Startup Juicero Cuts 25% of Its StaffBy
Company criticized for performance of high-priced juicer
CEO tells employees that cheaper device is in the works
Juicero Inc., the startup behind the $399 internet-connected juice machine, said it’s cutting 25 percent of its staff.
The job reductions, which are primarily in sales and marketing, are being made as Juicero is trying to lower the price of its machine and juice packs. The company’s product came under scrutiny in April, when Bloomberg revealed the packs could be squeezed by hand, yielding almost the same amount of juice in a shorter period of time than with the machine. Chief Executive Officer Jeff Dunn addressed the revelations in a letter Friday to employees announcing the cuts and thanked them for remaining focused despite the negative press cycle.
Juicero declined to comment. The company didn’t say how many people it employs. The staff reductions were reported earlier by Fortune.
“We’re still some time away from introducing substantially lower pricing and unveiling a national distribution strategy to achieve the scale we’re aiming for,” Dunn said in the letter. Juicero’s machine costs $399 and the company’s juice packs cost $5 to $7.
As part of the change in strategy, Doug Evans, Juicero’s founder and former CEO, will no longer be involved in the daily operations of the San Francisco-based company, but will keep a board seat, Dunn said.
Evans, 50, is credited with pitching Juicero’s investors on a high-powered machine that could turn chunks of fruits and vegetables into juice, said two of Juicero’s shareholders. In 2014, he raised about $120 million in venture funding for the concept from Alphabet Inc.’s GV, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and others.
But after the product’s introduction last year, two of Juicero’s investors told Bloomberg they were surprised to find that the packs could be hand-squeezed and didn’t require the high-priced hardware. The investors, who asked not to be identified because they signed nondisclosure agreements, said they invested after viewing a three-dimensional-printed rendering of the product and didn’t see a working prototype.
Juicero said after the story in April that it would offer all customers a refund. Dunn wrote in the letter this week that less than 5 percent of owners returned their machines.