Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Remember Just Mayo? They Rebranded to Just and Raised Another $200 Million

Mr. Tetrick is one tech bro I would not trust with anything.
And what's with all the rebranding going on? Snapchat becomes Snap, WeWork is now We and Google became Goo Alphabet.

From PitchBook:

Just Inc. raising $200M amid controversial past
Plant-based food maker Just Inc. is raising $200 million in growth funding, according to Bloomberg. CLSA, the international affiliate of Beijing-based Citic Securities, is reportedly participating in the round, as Just Inc. is said to be gauging preliminary interest from Chinese investors.

The news of the fundraise comes despite a history colored by a string of scandals, and it marks Just Inc.'s first raise since 2017, when it was said to be targeting a $150 million Series D. The San Francisco-based company, then known as Hampton Creek, reportedly struggled to raise the funds two years ago, following months of food safety concerns and an alleged buyback scheme.

The US Food and Drug Administration issued a formal warning in August 2015 demanding Hampton Creek alter its labels over inaccurate health and nutrition claims. This letter came after numerous anonymous employees accused the company of ignoring the science around its products, misrepresenting the scientific research it cited, retroactively changing employee agreements and even that CEO Josh Tetrick's dog was used to test products for shelf life, per Business Insider. In a blog post, Tetrick denied deliberately changing worker contracts or exaggerating research findings, and said his dog wasn't allowed in the facility. The FDA complaint was resolved in December 2015, when the company agreed to make changes to labeling while keeping the "Just Mayo" branding intact.

More controversial was a product buyback scheme reportedly concocted in 2014. Hampton Creek allegedly paid workers to visit grocery stores, buy the company's products in bulk and generate awareness by asking store management about the brand. The efforts would reportedly lead to artificially higher sales numbers and ultimately better chances for securing venture funding. According to a 2016 Bloomberg investigation, Tetrick said the buyback plan did exist, but for the purpose of quality control—not to inflate sales figures. Bloomberg reporters argued the company emails and employee accounts of the matter contradicted these claims, but with the joint Justice Department and SEC investigation reportedly closed, the matter remains inconclusive.

Hampton Creek appears to have ultimately raised its sought-after Series D, reaching a valuation of $1.25 billion in 2017. The company rebranded as "Just Inc." in June of that year, presumably in an attempt to distance itself from its checkered past....MORE
Hampton Creek, Attempting the 2 1/2 Twisting Reverse Uber, Sticks the Faceplant Landing! Entire Board Leaves, CEO Remains!
And the Valley is going crazy!
But seriously, we would have expected nothing less. What a performance! 

Target Corp. Cuts Ties With Hampton Creek: Just Say No to Just Mayo
Hampton Creek (Just Mayo) Reports an Attempted Employee Coup
"Mayo-scandal firm Hampton Creek from San Francisco going whole hog for Frankenmeat: report"
Just Mayo Guy, Hampton Creek's Josh Tetrick, Pivots to Industrial Scale Ingredient Supply Biz
Hampton Creek: Remember All Our Vegetarian Talk? Never Mind 

Can Planet Earth Feed 10 Billion People?"
We might have to go lower down on the protein chain though.
I hear crickets are yummy but haven't yet verified this claim..
May 8, 2017
Bro Culture Apparently Works Best With An Unending Supply of Other People's Money: Hampton Creek Edition
“Leveraging our Hampton Creek Instagram channel through condiment launches for our Just Mayo and Just Dressings allows us to showcase our condiments in a playful, creative way and allows us to connect with different consumer demographics across the country. We also leverage Hampton Creek fan reposts and user-generated content...."
That is Hampton Creek's brand marketing director quoted in Progressive Grocer.
As the man said when told his Chinese takeaway was cultural appropriation:
When you talk like that you are self-identifying as an idiot.

Last Wednesday the Financial Times' David Keohane pointed us to a Hampton Creek article that reminded me of nothing so much as Christopher Isherwood's sad stories of the he-whores and she-whores who overstayed the great Weimar Berlin party of the 1920's.

All I could think of was "Dude, the rave's over, go home"....
Hampton Creek CEO Fires Top Execs After Fundraising Struggle