In a blog post, founder Rob Rhinehart - the largest shareholder - said he would be moving into the role of executive chairman, and handing over the reins as CEO to someone “with more management and industry experience.”
Crowley, who joined Soylent as president in May 2017 following a stint as chief strategy officer at functional beverage brand KeVita, has “already had an untold positive impact improving our distribution, marketing, supply chain, product, and organization,” said Rhinehart.
“Along the way I have seen my role as CEO evolve, especially enjoying the process of delegating my responsibilities to more skilled and experienced scientists, managers, and executives. These specialists are clearly better at their roles than I would be..."
In a corresponding post, Crowley said that Soylent is now “one of the fastest-growing brands on Amazon, as well as #1 in the meal replacement category.”
A small trial with 7-Eleven over the summer “blew away our expectations,” added Crowley, who has held senior roles at KeVita, VEEV Spirits, Pabst Brewing Company, Mars, ConAgra and Anheuser-Busch. “Now we are expanding with 7-Eleven and other retailers in markets around the country.”
Soylent products are now in 500+ stores in California and Texas, including 7-Eleven, Thom's Market, H.E.B., and multiple Chevron, Shell and Mobil c-stores.
Cacao, coffiest, vanilla, chai...
Soylent - which is looking to expand the audience for its ‘nutritionally complete’ beverages – recently closed a $50m Series B financing round led by GV (formerly Google Ventures), bringing its total funding to $74.5m.
Despite a challenging few months in 2016/17 dogged by recalls, a public spat with a supplier and a setback in Canada, Soylent - which initially conducted most of its business via its own website - has performed well on Amazon and built a loyal and highly engaged online community of fans, which helps to explain why it has attracted so much interest from investors.
That said, the success of the brand - which was launched in 2013 - has both intrigued and baffled trend-watchers, given that its sterile packaging and utilitarian ‘food as fuel’ approach appears to fly in the face of the culinary trend towards ‘minimally processed,’ colorful, flavorful whole foods that are inherently nutritious rather than fortified with nutrients.
However, there has been growing interest in more portable nutrition and drinkable meals and snacks, and Soylent has recently expanded its portfolio to provide fans with more flavor options.
“Our vision is big but simple: we want to change the way the world looks at food. How? By leveraging science and technology to provide complete, convenient, and sustainable nutrition to the world…”
Bryan Crowley, CEO, Soylent
Soylent is not about replacing 'food' 24:7, 365 days a year
So who are the heaviest users of Soylent – a brand some more uncharitable observers have described as “only slightly more appealing than an IV bag” - and how are they using it?
The biggest misconception about Soylent is that it is being used to replace every meal, 365 days a year, said Crowley.
In reality, he said, while you could eat Soylent exclusively (it has been formulated as a ‘nutritionally complete’ food), most customers don’t, and are instead using it when they are busy, or traveling.
“People always ask me if we’re trying to eliminate traditional food. The answer is no - we love food. It is connected to the fabric of what defines cultures and makes us human beings.
"What we do want to replace is all those times you need food as fuel, and you either skip a meal or make an unhealthy, unsustainable or expensive choice throughout your busy week. We call these ‘food voids’ and we’re on a mission to make them obsolete with a healthier, more sustainable choice…”
More to follow...