Out: Bai Brands founder Ben Weiss, who, after eight years, has left the drinks maker in unexplained circumstances.
Updated (22/6): Bai Brands has replaced CEO Ben Weiss with Lain Hancock, a ten-year veteran of its new owner Dr Pepper Snapple, in what appears to be a seize of power at the top. Click here to read the latest on this story.
Bai Brands has confirmed that CEO Ben Weiss has left the company, four months after Dr Pepper Snapple completed its acquisition of the antioxidant-infused beverage maker.
It remains unclear whether Weiss resigned or whether he was dismissed by the company’s new owners. Neither Dr Pepper Snapple nor Weiss himself have been drawn to comment on the development.
Weiss founded Bai Brands in 2009 and led the company through rapid growth. Dr Pepper Snapple initially acquired a minority stake in the drinks maker two years ago for $15 million, before agreeing to buy out the remaining stake last November for $1.7 billion.
At the start of the year, Weiss sounded optimistic for the year ahead, when it launched a US-wide advertising campaign with brand ambassador Justin Timberlake.
“Justin has been working closely with our team on several new projects and we are excited to see them all come to life in 2017,” Weiss said. “This is just the beginning.”
Talking about his departure, Weiss said: “This is the culmination of an amazing journey for me and my family. What we created at Bai made history. I could not be prouder of the Unbelievers I worked side-by-side with, growing Bai to be a disruptor and leader in the beverage industry. This extraordinary brand has been embraced by millions of consumers, and I am confident in its future.”
Weiss’ departure is reminiscent of the abrupt exit of Kevin Klock, the former CEO of fellow beverage manufacturer Talking Rain. The company behind Sparkling Ice drinks has since replaced him with chief finance officer Marcus Smith, and has still proffered no explanation for Klock’s surprise departure.
Analysis: has Dr Pepper Snapple changed its tune on CEO Weiss?
For eight years, Weiss was the driving force behind Bai Brands – the enigmatic founder who steered it from a functional drinks upstart in his New Jersey basement to a $1.7 billion company. In a glowing review on Bai Brands’ website, Weiss is described as “a true Bevolutionary… a beverage industry visionary who embodied the ‘Unbelieve’ spirit that now defines Bai”.
It’s hard to imagine Weiss leaving in ordinary circumstances. Has Dr Pepper Snapple changed its tune on Bai Brands’ CEO? Did Weiss bow out? Or did he resign, perhaps a response to Dr Pepper-imposed changes to his self-made beverage empire? It’s been almost six months since Kevin Klock left Talking Rain, and we still have few answers there, so the chance of discovering the circumstances around Weiss’ departure are incredibly slim.
Update: Dr Pepper Snapple replaces Weiss with Lain Hancock
In: Lain Hancock
Hancock had previously served as executive vice president, human resources for Dr Pepper Snapple. He will work with Ken Kurtz, Bai’s president of sales, to drive alignment and coordination between Bai and its new owner.
“Lain knows how to inspire and lead winning teams and develop and execute business plans guided by data and insight,” said Dr Pepper Snapple president and CEO Larry Young. “As part of our executive leadership team for the past four years, he understands how to best bring Dr Pepper Snapple’s full capabilities and resources to support Bai’s sales, marketing and brand building efforts.
“Ben created one of the beverage industry’s most disruptive innovations in recent years. The team at Bai is well positioned to drive growth for the brand well into the future. We appreciate all that he has done to build an amazing brand and a phenomenal team, and we wish him well.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019