Hampton Creek Foods Inc. Chief Executive Officer Josh Tetrick Interview
Josh Tetrick, CEO of Hampton Creek. Bloomberg -- Bloomberg via Getty Images

Hampton Creek’s Expiration Date Gets Closer As Board Quits En Masse

Jul 17, 2017

Josh Tetrick, the co-founder and CEO of controversial food startup Hampton Creek, is now the sole member of its board.

At least four directors have left the board in June over apparent "deep discord" with Tetrick, Bloomberg reported.

The publication noted "at least five directors" have left; however, a Hampton Creek spokesperson said that the fifth and additional sixth director—one from Horizons Venture and Marc Benioff—had both left about a year ago.

Tetrick now sits alone on the board, according to the report. Hampton Creek board members who recently left included a number of high-profile food and tech executives such as Google DeepMind co-founder Mustafa Suleyman and Khosla Ventures partner Samir Kaul as well as former U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Tetrick put a rosier tint on the departures, describing the move as a strategy to give staff more power, in an emailed statement to Bloomberg. The departed board members have transitioned to an advisory role, according to a spokesman.

Hampton Creek has had a volatile ride since launching in 2011. The company and its eggless mayo attracted interest and investments from Silicon Valley that helped push its valuation to unicorn status of $1.1 billion.

It's also been embroiled in numerous legal battles with regulators, food companies, and trade associations over health claims of its products. And its image took another hit after Bloomberg BusinessWeek published a detailed article in September that showed company employees bought back large quantities of Hampton Creek products at retail outlets, which in turn inflated sales numbers.

The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice closed inquiries into this incident in March.

Controversies surrounding the company have continued to pop up. The latest was just last month when Target said it was voluntarily removing all Hampton Creek products from store shelves, including its popular eggless mayonnaise Just Mayo brand, after allegations of food safety issues. Hampton Creek denied the claims, telling Fortune at the time, "The allegations that our products are mislabeled and unsafe are false."

Updated 5 p.m. July 19: The number and timing of the board departures has been updated.

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