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Since June, Zume Pizza, a SoftBank-backed startup valued above $1 billion, has lost several high-ranking executives, Business Insider has learned.
The startup was developing a robotic arm to make pizza more efficiently when it took on $375 million in funding from SoftBank’s private equity fund in November 2018. The round valued Zume higher than the most popular pizza chains in the United States combined.
According to people familiar with the matter, Zume executive Kartik Ramachandran, who served as interim CFO and in other high-level roles, was terminated in June.
Kira Druyan, the General Counsel, departed in October, as did Susan Alban, the VP of Talent.
The company touted its food trucks and food packaging products, but made no mention of its robotic pizza machines in response to a Business Insider inquiry.
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Zume, the Silicon Valley startup developing pizza-cooking robots, has seen a raft of high-level departures and growing internal doubts about the company’s shifting direction, Business Insider has learned. The turmoil comes as the company, valued at more than $1 billion, is reportedly in talks with SoftBank for another mega-funding round.

Kira Druyan, Zume’s company’s general counsel, and Susan Alban, the executive in charge of human resources and recruiting, both left last month, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Those exits followed the departure in June of Kartik Ramachandran, a high-level executive who held various roles at Zume, including interim CFO and President of Zume Source. Ramachandran was terminated after repeatedly butting heads with management and employees across the organization, multiple sources told Business Insider.

Meanwhile, the futuristic robo-pizza making machines that Zume touted when it came on the scene a few years ago appear to no longer be a priority.

The company also makes compostable packaging that Pizza Hut uses, and also has a fleet of food trucks dubbed “mobile kitchens” that it says it says include “intelligent software” and connected appliances.

Several people close to the company told Business Insider that Zume was spending money aggressively on hiring and was meandering between various projects and strategies, even as progress on its ambitious robotics technology appears to be stalled.

Zume’s business model seemed to fluctuate according various executives’ whims, often changing week-to-week or even day-to-day, sources said.

Asked about the status and advances in the development of the company’s robotic pizza makers, a Zume spokesperson said in a statement that the company’s mission is to “engineer a …read more

Source:: Business Insider

      

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Zume, the robotic pizza maker that SoftBank valued at $1 billion, has lost several top execs and appears to have moved away from robots, even as it seeks new money

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