If you're familiar with a company called Hampton Creek, it's likely because of its "Just Mayo" product. It's essentially vegan mayonnaise, with pea protein in place of eggs, though 37-year-old CEO Josh Tetrick hates the connotations of the word "vegan," and industry rivals don't think it technically qualifies as mayonnaise without eggs. If Tetrick has his way, Hampton Creek will expand far beyond mayo, however. He sees Hampton Creek as more of a tech company than a food company—it's been embraced by some of Silicon Valley's biggest venture capitalists—with the idea being to thoroughly explore the science of the plant world to come up with alternatives to animal products in all kinds of food, per a profile by Bianca Bosker in the Atlantic. For example, an egg substitute line called Just Scramble is in the works, as is a longer-range plan for lab-grown meat.
On a larger scale, Tetrick also plans to begin licensing ingredients and methods to food manufacturers through a company arm called Just OS. "While a chicken egg will never change, our idea is that we can have a product where we push updates into the system, just like Apple updates its iOS operating system," he explains. But when? One problem is that early "glowing press" has been replaced by more critical coverage questioning the company's ability to pull it all off, particularly this Business Insider piece. Critics, including ex-employees, say Tetrick is more showman than businessman, more focused on creating splashy presentations to woo investors than in making tangible progress. Click for the full story, in which Tetrick says his personal mission is to end the suffering of animals in the industrial food system, a message that doesn't always thrill investors. (Read more Longform stories.)