Business Startups

Memo From Zume CEO Says No More Pizza, Just Packaging

This afternoon, Crunchbase News obtained a letter Zume CEO Alex Garden sent to his staff, explaining that Zume Pizza has effectively shuttered, as it doubles down on “compostable molded-fiber packaging.” The company said that only 53 percent of its workforce was laid off, as opposed to earlier reports of 80 percent. It also claims there will be 100 job openings in the future.

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An excerpt of the letter’s content is as follows:

“Dear Zume Team Members,

Since Zume was founded nearly five years ago, we have been blessed with an opportunity to invent brave and innovative solutions intended to improve our global food system. Ours is a broad agenda including new methods to produce food, deliver it, and package it in increasingly sustainable ways. Today our mission is the same, and requires the same bold thinking, but with increased focus.”

Garden then mentioned that the 2020 strategic plan would “strongly support” Zume’s packaging business. In June, Crunchbase News wrote a story about Zume’s acquisition of Camarillo-based Pivot Packaging. In the story, Garden explained that Pivot provides a “flurry of tech” and machinery that helped Zume create its plastic-replacement boxes, and will help Zume cater to more markets. Zume also acquired Pivot’s 10-person staff, Garden told me back in June.

“We take the sugar cane and turn it into something wonderfully compostable,” Garden said in a June interview. “Essentially as we scale more, it helps save the world.”

In regards to the resulting layoffs, Garden wrote the following in the memo to staff.

These decisions were incredibly difficult, as we could not have reached our current success without the talents of these same people. We have done everything we reasonably can as a company to offer exit packages that will ease the transition of our impacted employees to the next phase in their careers.

Garden, in the letter, explains that the company will “expand facilities and manufacturing capabilities in the USA, India and other global markets.”

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

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