Zume, the SoftBank-backed robotic pizza startup, just lost a third of its executive team amid company-wide layoffs

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  • Zume, the SoftBank-backed robotic pizza startup valued at $1 billion, lost a third of its executive team on Wednesday. The startup also announced on Wednesday company-wide layoffs that affected 360 employees across three offices.
  • The company now finds itself without a chief business officer, a chief financial officer, a chief technology officer, and a chief revenue officer as it pursues new business strategies in 2020.
  • The departures are the most recent in a string of high-profile executive departures that have rocked Zume since June, including general counsel, former chief financial officers, and head of HR, among others.
  • Sources have told Business Insider that some executives struggled to get along with Alex Garden, cofounder and CEO of Zume. Those that disagreed with Garden tended to have only a limited tenure at the company, sources said.
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Zume, the SoftBank-backed robotic pizza startup valued at $1 billion, just lost a third of its executive team hours after announcing that 360 of its employees were being terminated, Business Insider has learned. 

Amid a broader strategy shift away from its famous pizza-making robots towards compostable packaging, Zume now finds itself without a chief business officer, a chief financial officer, a chief technology officer, and a chief revenue officer. According to its website, that leaves CEO and cofounder Alex Garden, Chief People Officer Mike McMahon, Executive Vice President of Packaging Annette Groenink, and managing director of India Vaibhav Goel to run the company, which was reportedly pursuing funding tied to a $4 billion valuation.

It is not clear which executives were terminated as part of the restructuring and which chose to leave voluntarily. No replacements have been announced as of Wednesday.

“Today’s announcement included a wide reduction in staff including our executive team,” a Zume spokeswoman told Business Insider.

R.P. Eddy joined Zume as the chief business officer in June 2018, according to his LinkedIn profile. Eddy was a long-time government employee, which icluded stints in the Clinton administration and at the United Nations. 

Meredith Whitney took over as chief financial officer for ousted Zume executive Kartik Ramachandran in April. Whitney was widely seen as an unusual choice to run the financial portion of the business, multiple sources told Business Insider, given she had not previously held an executive position at a public or private company. However, Whitney’s background was a good fit for Garden, who sources said had a penchant of hiring under-qualified executives who held high-profile positions or worked for well-known companies. Whitney, for instance, is widely known as one of the financial analysts who predicted the mortgage lending crisis in 2008.

Chris Satchell had previously run operations at Nike and Comcast and held the chief technology officer position at Zume since April 2018. Satchell was not present in any office when layoffs were announced on Wednesday, even though his engineering division was one of the hardest hit, multiple sources told Business Insider. A Zume spokeswoman confirmed that Satchell was not on-site to announce the changes to affected employees.

Adrian Agostini only joined Zume in May as chief revenue officer and will be departing in “early 2020.” An exact departure date is not known. Agostini was previously head of revenue at Uber, Amazon, and Oracle.

The departures are the most recent in a string of high-profile executive departures that have rocked Zume since June, including general counsel, former chief financial officers, and head of HR, among others. Sources have told Business Insider that some executives struggled to get along with Alex Garden, cofounder and CEO of Zume. Those that disagreed with Garden tended to have only a limited tenure at the company, sources said.

Do you work at Zume or another SoftBank-backed startup and want to share your story? Contact this reporter via encrypted messaging app Signal at +1 (331) 625-2555 using a nonwork phone, email at [email protected], or Twitter DM at @megan_hernbroth.

SEE ALSO: SoftBank-backed robotic pizza startup Zume plans to lay off up to 400 employees and won’t renew its Seattle lease amid widespread restructuring to stop burning cash

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