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Vegan food start-up Hampton Creek – best known for its Just Mayo – has allegedly warded off an attempted coup.
Staff at the billion dollar Silicon Valley company were made aware of the situation when bosses wrote to them earlier this week.
They were informed that Chief Technology Officer Jim Flatt, Vice President of Research and Development Lee Chae and Vice President of Business Development Sofia Elizondo had been cast out of the company following an internal investigation.
An official company statement said: “This morning, our Co-founder and CEO Josh Tetrick, shared the sad news with our team that three senior managers have been terminated for attempting to change our company’s corporate governance, which in the process, would have stripped our employees of the autonomy to direct our long-term mission.
“Following leads from concerned employees, our executive team launched a thorough forensics investigation led by two prominent information security and IT firms.
“Agents uncovered evidence of the senior managers’ intentions and their plans never materialized. The firms’ investigation is ongoing based on additional information being collected. I’m proud of our team for building this company and defending its mission.”
According to founder Tetrick, his former colleagues wanted more control put into the hands of investors, giving them more influence in how the company would be run.
He was concern this could lead to pressure in certain situations, for example when it came to launches products that may not fit the business’ ethos or in a potential buyout situation. He claims a number of staff approached him to express concern over the behavior of these ex-employers.
It is not the first time the company has faced controversy: in 2014 giant conglomerate Unilever, which owns Hellman’s Mayonnaise, unsuccessfully tried to sue Hampton Creek for false advertising, claiming Just Mayo isn’t mayonnaise because it doesn’t contain eggs.
Tetrick has remained resolute in the face of the alleged coup. His statement says: “Over the past few years, our talented team has worked hard every day to improve our food system.
“We’ve persevered because we’ve focused on what matters – doing our jobs well. In the months ahead, we’re launching groundbreaking products, bringing on new manufacturing partners, and significantly expanding our distribution. But recently, we discovered another unsuccessful attempt to derail our mission.
“The problems of our food system are too urgent to be distracted. We’re going to stay focused on doing good work.”