SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Solazyme (NASDAQ:SZYM) announced that it is focusing the Company exclusively on food, nutrition and specialty ingredients, harnessing the power of its transformational algae innovation platform. The evolution leverages over a decade of R&D and product development on an innovative suite of algae-based food, nutrition and specialty ingredients, as well as extensive investment in building manufacturing facilities, obtaining regulatory approvals, and commercializing initial products. With these foundational elements in place, the Company is positioned to create value and impact in the rapidly growing plant-based food, nutrition and specialty ingredients sectors. Solazyme will be renamed “TerraVia™” to reflect the refined focus and journey to improve the lives of people and the planet.
“By unlocking the power of algae, the mother of all plants and earth’s original superfood, we are bringing much-needed innovation in food and nutrition,” said Jonathan Wolfson, the Company’s co-founder and CEO. “Our new generation of breakthrough ingredients and foods delivers on nutrition, flavor and texture all with an unparalleled sustainability profile, and these products are already beginning to penetrate a market that is demanding healthier alternatives. Over more than 13 years we have invested in developing a unique understanding and expertise around algae. Today the pieces are in place for the Company to fulfill its mission and create substantial value for customers and shareholders.”
TerraVia’s proven portfolio of ingredients and products include:
- Specialty Food Ingredients, including the AlgaVia® Whole Algae ingredients (lipid rich powder and protein) and AlgaWise™ Algae Oils (cooking and high stability oils). Each of these products has obtained key regulatory clearances and have been incorporated into products by established food companies such as Hormel and Utz, as well as by leading edge, plant-based food companies such as Enjoy Life, So Delicious, Soylent and Follow Your Heart during the past six to nine months.
- Consumer Food Products, where the Company will leverage its unique ingredients to incubate select consumer brands, including Thrive® Culinary Algae Oil.
- Animal Nutrition Ingredients, a new area for the Company, where initial products and partnerships will be announced soon.
- Specialty Personal Care Ingredients, including AlgaPur Oils, which are marketed and sold alongside food ingredients and where the Company has major customers including Unilever.
“There are opportunities for our algae-based ingredients across every aisle of the grocery store, driven by consumer demand for clean labels and an increasing focus on plant-based foods with great taste,” said Mark Brooks, SVP and General Manager of Food Ingredients at Solazyme. “We are enhancing a new generation of foods that deliver better flavor and nutrition, including healthier fats and enhanced protein, fiber and micronutrients. In addition to products incorporating our ingredients on store shelves today, we are currently in active development projects with major CPG companies for new products such as salad dressings and gluten-free bakery products that are healthier and offer the taste and texture that consumers demand.”
Prior to joining Solazyme, Brooks was the Global Business Director of Truvia®, where he led the business to over $100 million in global retail sales.
The Company has entered into a definitive purchase agreement for a strategic financing round of approximately $28 million in newly issued, no-coupon convertible preferred shares with a conversion price of $2.00 per common share, which represents an approximately 25% premium over the 15-day trading average of Solazyme’s common stock. The investment was funded by an outstanding and accomplished group of leading investors and entrepreneurs in food, nutrition and innovation. The investor group includes:
- Glenhill Capital (active consumer investor including seed investor in Boulder Brands)
- VMG Partners (premier consumer private equity fund: KIND, Pretzel Crisp, Pirate’s Booty, Natural Balance)
- PowerPlant Ventures (founders of Zico Coconut Water and the Veggie Grill)
- Charles Chang, founder and former CEO of Vega (Lyra Growth Partners)
- ARTIS Ventures (investors in food and technology, including Juicero, ChefsFeed and Modern Meadow)
- Simon Equities (investors in food and consumer products, including Plum Organic, Method, Shinola)
- Jack Davis (retired CEO of Ventura Foods, the largest maker of vegetable oil-based products in the U.S.)
- Keith Belling (founder and former CEO of Popchips)
“I was fortunate to be at the forefront of the amazing growth in the coconut category,” said Zico Founder, Mark Rampolla, “and I am excited to have the chance to be a part of the next generation in food and nutrition that TerraVia and its suite of algae ingredients represents.”
MANAGEMENT AND BOARD APPOINTMENTS
Co-founder and longtime CEO, Jonathan S. Wolfson has notified the Board of Directors that as part of this transition he will shift his focus from daily operations to strategy and special projects including those with a consumer focus. At his request, a search for a new CEO will begin immediately. Mr. Wolfson has been appointed Chairman of the Board and will remain as CEO while the search is underway. He will assume the full-time role of Executive Chairman effective upon the placement of the new CEO. Jerry Fiddler will remain on the board and has assumed the role of lead independent director.
Mr. Wolfson said, “We have worked hard for more than a decade building a transformational algae-based food and specialty ingredients platform. Over the last six months, the key elements that we have been working on have fallen into place, ranging from regulatory clearances and manufacturing capability to validation of our key ingredients in cutting-edge consumer brands. As we focus the Company on food, nutrition and specialty ingredients, it is an ideal time to bring in a leader who has the industry experience and skills to enable TerraVia to deliver on a truly transformational opportunity. I am excited to be continuing on in a full-time capacity as Executive Chairman once the new CEO is in place.
“I also want to thank Jerry for his 13 years of tireless service and fantastic vision as Chairman,” Wolfson concluded.
Jerry Fiddler noted, “Jonathan leads with creativity, passion, drive and skill. I’m proud of what he has accomplished, and happy that he is reaffirming his commitment to the Company as Executive Chairman once the new CEO is in place. I am very optimistic about the future of TerraVia -- the products are wonderful, they’re in production now, and they’re market-ready in a strong and receptive industry. I look forward to continuing to serve as lead independent director going forward.”
The Company also announced the strengthening of foods expertise on its Board of Directors with the addition of seasoned food industry executive, Irene Chang Britt. Britt is a past President of Pepperidge Farm; SVP, Chief Strategy Officer, Campbell’s Soup Company; General Manager, Kraft Foods and VP at Nabisco.
“Companies across the food industry are increasingly focused on delivering truly innovative products that transform the nutrition profile of the foods we all love without sacrificing their great taste,” said Britt. “TerraVia’s ingredients platform is well-positioned to help the food industry get there today, and I look forward to adding my expertise and voice to the board.”
Over its history Solazyme has invested in, and developed products, technology and market opportunities in industrial markets including fuels, industrial oils, and the oilfield/Encapso™ business. Moving forward, these initiatives will be grouped together as “Solazyme Industrials” and will not be part of TerraVia’s refined focus. Solazyme believes these businesses have tremendous opportunity to develop into large and profitable entities, while improving the lives of people and the planet. The Company will be pursuing strategic alternatives over the next 12-18 months to unlock the value created. Solazyme’s objective is to identify partners who have the operational capabilities needed to realize the potential of those businesses.
MOVING FORWARD AS TerraVia
“We are moving forward with a strong business foundation and clear vision,” said Tyler Painter, Chief Financial and Operating Officer. “We have invested significant time and capital in the development of our innovation platform and large-scale manufacturing capability. We enjoy long-standing commitments from partners, led by Bunge and Unilever, who have helped bring our vision to life. Importantly, we have also learned significant lessons in scale-up and commercialization, helping to de-risk the inherent challenges in bringing disruptive products to market. These strengths combined with our refined focus, a proven suite of products and the expanded market knowledge we gain with our new investors and board member, position us well to execute on our opportunities in food, nutrition and specialty ingredients.”
Solazyme (to be renamed TerraVia™), is a next generation food, nutrition and specialty ingredients company that harnesses the power of algae, the mother of all plants and earth’s original superfood. With a portfolio of breakthrough ingredients and manufacturing, the Company is well positioned to help meet the growing need of consumer packaged goods and established and emerging food manufacturers to improve the nutritional profile of foods without sacrificing taste, and to develop select consumer brands. The Company also manufacturers a range of specialty personal care ingredients for key strategic partners. Headquartered in South San Francisco, the Company’s mission is to create products that are truly better for people and better for the planet. For additional information, please visit TerraVia’s website at www.terravia.com.
Forward Looking Statements
This press release contains certain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 about Solazyme, including statements that involve risks and uncertainties concerning: the ability of algae-based foods to transform the food system; the attributes of algae-based foods, including as to economic and environmental sustainability; the future employment status of Jonathan Wolfson with Solazyme; its ability to find strategic alternatives for its industrials business and the timing and value of those alternatives; the ability of its business to bring value to customers and shareholders; the attributes of Solazyme’s next CEO; its ability to close its strategic financing; its commercialization and production plans; the ramping up of facilities; meeting commercialization and technology targets; successful product trials and market acceptance and adoption of its products; and Solazyme's ability to maintain its relationships with its partners. When used in this press release, the words "will", "expects", "intends" and other similar expressions and any other statements that are not historical facts are intended to identify those assertions as forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Any such statement may be influenced by a variety of factors, many of which are beyond the control of Solazyme, that could cause actual outcomes and results to be materially different from those projected, described, expressed or implied in this press release due to a number of risks and uncertainties. Potential risks and uncertainties include, among others: Solazyme's limited operating history; its limited history in commercializing products; implementation risk in deploying new technologies; its limited experience in constructing, ramping up and operating commercial manufacturing facilities; its ability to successfully develop and commercialize products; its ability to sell its products at a profit; delays related to construction, start-up and ramp-up of production facilities; its ability to manage costs; its ability to enter into and maintain strategic collaborations; successful product trials by its customers and market acceptance and adoption of its products by end-users; its ability to obtain requisite regulatory approvals; and its access, on favorable terms, to any required financing. Accordingly, no assurances can be given that any of the events anticipated by the forward-looking statements will transpire or occur, or if any of them do so, what impact they will have on the results of operations or financial condition of Solazyme.
In addition, please refer to the documents that Solazyme, Inc. files with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including its Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and Annual Report on Form 10-K, as updated from time to time, for a discussion of these and other risks. You are cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date of this press release. Solazyme is not under any duty to update any of the information in this press release.