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Miyoko's at Expo West 2023
Miyoko's at Expo West 2023. Image credit: Elaine Watson

Exclusive: Miyoko’s interim president to step down, no replacement announced yet

June 16, 2023

Jon Blair is stepping down as interim president at plant-based dairy company Miyoko’s Creamery at the end of the month, AgFunder News (AFN) has learned. A replacement has not been announced.

Blair, who joined Miyoko’s as CFO in March 2022, was propelled into an acting CEO role last summer after the board voted to remove its founder Miyoko Schinner as CEO following disagreements over strategy.

Months of protracted negotiations regarding Schinner’s ongoing role in the company followed before talks broke down and the board issued a press release in February 16, 2023 revealing its “unanimous” decision to replace her and seek a CEO with “proven P&L experience who has scaled a larger business.” According to the release, executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles had been tasked with finding a “highly qualified, passionate, and mission-driven leader.”

The same day, the company filed a lawsuit accusing Schinner of “hatching a plot” to steal its intellectual property, prompting Schinner to respond with a countersuit alleging she was forced out of her own company after complaining to HR about male executives who “openly denigrated women.”

After three months of airing their dirty laundry in public through court filings, the parties withdrew their respective legal claims in mid-May and issued a joint statement wishing each other well.

‘Everyone that I have spoken with is completely surprised and was not expecting this’

According to one source who asked not to be named, Blair notified employees of his plans to leave Miyoko’s during a company-wide zoom call on Wednesday afternoon, telling staff that he wanted to spend more time with his family.

Two board members were also on the call, John Kenney (cofounder at investor Cult Capital) and Dan Gluck (managing partner at investor PowerPlant Partners), said the source: “Everyone that I have spoken with is completely surprised and was not expecting this… Jon was well liked, and seemed to be fair.”

Viable candidates for CEO were “not mentioned in the call announcing Jon’s departure,” added the source. “We’d heard that they were talking to someone at the beginning of the year but that the person they were pursuing declined after the February 16 announcement and the lawsuits that followed. Honestly, with all the accusations flying back and forth, who would want to walk into that?”

Representatives for Miyoko’s Creamery and individual board members have not responded to requests for comment and have not provided an update on the executive search process.

February layoffs

Asked about morale at Miyoko’s in light of the public spat between the board and the founder of the company, the source said: “It depends on who you talk to. There are many that are rallying around the brand itself.

“12 employees were terminated on February 1 as a result of economic conditions [including a] number of people that had been with Miyoko for a number of years, although positions at Miyoko’s Creamery are and have been available since that date.”

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