An exodus at eggless mayonnaise maker Hampton Creek Inc. has left the company with only one board member: its chief executive.
A Bloomberg report said several board members recently gave up their seats after deep discord with Josh Tetrick, CEO of the San Francisco-based vegan food start-up. The company, meanwhile, described the changes as a way of maintaining its core mission, and said four of the former board members are taking on advisory roles.
Those four members — Khosla Ventures partner Samir Kaul, Bon Appetit Management Co. co-founder and CEO Fedele Bauccio, former U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Google DeepMind co-founder Mustafa Suleyman — resigned this month, the company said.
“We continue to fully support Hampton Creek and its CEO Josh in their exciting and important mission to change the food industry for the better of all people. We will advise Josh and the team on strategies across all areas of its business,” the four said in a statement released by the company.
They aren’t the only board members to have departed Hampton Creek. Bart Swanson, who represented Horizons Ventures, and Lynne Benioff, wife of the CEO of Salesforce.com Inc., left “some time ago,” but Horizons and Benioff “remain close to the company,” a Hampton Creek spokesman said.
Hampton Creek said it is reconstituting its board, which currently consists only of Tetrick and an open Khosla Ventures seat.
Since it was founded in 2011, Hampton Creek has raised more than $220 million, but its investor support began to decline after several controversies in the last year, the Bloomberg report said.
One such controversy involved allegations, first published by Bloomberg, that the company had hired consultants to buy back products from retailers’ shelves. The company said the policy was related to quality control, but others suspected that it was aimed at boosting sales figures. According to Hampton Creek, federal inquiries into the buybacks ended with no findings of wrongdoing, Bloomberg reported.
And last month, Target pulled Hampton Creek’s Just Mayo egg-free spread and a handful of its other products after saying it received unsubstantiated allegations of contamination and false labeling.