I’ve been chairman of Solazyme for 13 years. I first met founders Jonathan Wolfson and Harrison Dillon in 2002, when Solazyme was a really big idea, with no lab, no employees and no outside funding. Since that time the company has grown into a world leader, creating products never before possible. We were the first to turn carbohydrate into oil, a world-changing technology. We were the first to transform algae successfully, the first to make tailored oils, powdered fats, encapsulated oils, alguronic acid – the list goes on, and on. We’ve helped the navy and major truck fleets to move towards their sustainability goals. We’re helping Unilever to make better, more earth-friendly products with our sustainable replacement for palm oil. And, we’re helping to provide wonderful food to people.
The science and technology that we have developed allows us to make almost any kind of oil found in nature – in petroleum, in plants, or in animals. That’s an amazing achievement. But, it has also created real business challenges for us. I’ve come to realize that, although we really can make all of these products, building the enterprise that can market and sell all of them is not the best path forward. If we try to do everything, to succeed in all markets, we will not succeed to my satisfaction in any of them. These are wonderful products and technologies that we’ve created, and they deserve to be marketed and supported more effectively and aggressively than we would be able to if we continue to work with all of them.
Now, it’s time for the company to bring all of our focus to bear on a single challenge, to help improve the way people eat, by creating abundant, sustainable, healthy and delicious foods, in ways that it’s never been done before. The timing couldn’t be better. There’s a hunger (pun intended) in the market for new solutions, for new plant-based options. New companies are being created, to great fanfare, to address this market need. TerraVia, as we will be named going forward, has assets and capabilities that none of them, indeed nobody else, has. We have real products – oils, protein powders, high-lipid flours – that are literally unique. We have the manufacturing capacity and the know-how to produce them at scale. We have spent years doing the testing and regulatory work to ready them for market. We have the team, the IP, and the science, to develop them further. We have real customers using our ingredients in the market today, and we have strong results from early market tests of our Thrive® branded oil. In short, both consumers and manufacturers love these products. And, I love that they’re some of the healthiest and most sustainable food products available.
As chairman of the board, shareholder value must be, and always has been, foremost in my mind. I’m convinced that TerraVia is our best path forward to increase value. The products are strong, and they’re market-ready in a receptive market. Of course, we are also thinking hard about the other unique technology and products that we’ve developed. There is real value there, and we will work to maximize that value, with various strategies and partners, without distracting from the focus of TerraVia. That will provide additional assets to drive TerraVia forward, and additional value to shareholders.
In the thirteen years that I’ve been chairman of Solazyme, I’ve also had the pleasure to work with Jonathan Wolfson as he has grown into a world-class CEO and leader. I congratulate him on his transition into the executive chairman role. He’s ready for it, and I’m confident that he’ll do a wonderful job. It also gives the company the opportunity to bring in new talent, leadership, and energy, to add to an already strong management team. For Jonathan and the company, it’s a win-win. As for me, I will give up the chairman title, but will remain on the board, and will assume the role of lead independent director.
This is one of those beautiful moments when the best thing for everybody aligns. TerraVia is a great growth vehicle for the company and the shareholders, and it will provide products the world needs and wants. I’m excited about our future.