Seattle-based sustainable coffee maker Atomo says it is restructuring, just six months after raising $40 million in fresh funding.
In a statement provided to GeekWire, the 4-year-old company said it is going through a “strategic realignment and restructuring,” but the startup declined to say whether it laid off workers, or provide an updated headcount number.
However, current and former employees who spoke with GeekWire said the startup cut its workforce last week. Atomo employed 35 people in June and had grown to around 50 employees, according to LinkedIn.
In a statement attributed to co-founder and CEO Andy Kleitsch, Atomo said it “recently achieved a breakthrough that will help us reach a larger segment of consumers and more quickly advance accessibility to sustainable coffee offerings.”
“Our strategic realignment and restructuring will mean adding new staff with specialty skills that will enable us to more quickly scale our vision of providing sustainable coffee products to the masses,” Kleitsch said.
The company’s website currently lists four open positions.
Derek Lotz, a former human resources director at the company who left last month before the restructuring, told GeekWire that Atomo has “let go of a lot of really valuable employees.”
Atomo arrived on Seattle’s much-celebrated coffee scene in 2019 as a food-tech startup with a promise to reverse engineer the coffee bean. Its formula has involved removing the bean from the process of making coffee and substituting it with a molecular concoction derived from naturally sustainable, upcycled plant waste ingredients, including extracts of date seed, chicory root and grape skin.
The company’s goal is to mitigate the effects of climate change on coffee growing regions around the globe and provide a substitute for the environmentally destructive process of coffee farming. Atomo says its brews use 94% less water and 93% less carbon emissions than conventional coffee.
Kleitsch is a tech veteran who previously worked at Amazon and has led entrepreneur workshops at the University of Washington. He co-founded Atomo with Jarret Stopforth, a Ph.D. with extensive experience around food safety and quality at companies such as Chobani and Campbell Soup. Stopforth left Atomo last May and is now co-founder and COO at Dewey Beverage, makers of a canned cocktail.
Atomo officially launched the sale of its canned cold brew products online in June, following its most recent funding announcement.
The company operates two production facilities: a roastery building in Seattle just six blocks from the headquarters of Starbucks, and an ingredient processing facility in California that put the startup closer to farmers and their date pits in the Coachella Valley.
Atomo has raised $51.5 million to date. Its last round was led by S2G Ventures, AgFunder and Horizons Ventures.
The changes at the startup come as a number of companies across tech have made cuts amid a slowing economy. Amazon confirmed this month that it’s slashing 18,000 corporate and tech employees; Salesforce is cutting 10% of its workforce, impacting Seattle-based Tableau; Rad Power Bikes, Meta, OfferUp, Flyhomes, Redfin and others have also announced layoffs.
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