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Image credits: Zomato & Gunjan Patidar

New year, new people moves: Zomato, Sweetgreen executives out, AppHarvest taps CEA vet for COO

January 6, 2023

Another new year, another round of high-profile people moves in agrifoodtech.

To keep everyone up to speed on the latest people moves in the world of food and ag, AFN publishes a monthly column of the industry’s biggest people moves. To kick off 2023, agribusiness expert Shane Thomas joins Soiltech Wireless, another Zomato executive calls it quits and AppHarvest gets a new COO.

Are you in a new role or company? Know someone who has left? Drop me a line to share the details: [email protected].

Upstream Ag Insights founder joins Soiltech Wireless board

Shane Thomas is a well known and highly respected agribusiness expert who’s also the vp of strategy at AgVend. He also authors the Upstream Ag Insights newsletter.

Ehsan Soltan, CEO and chairman of the board at crop monitoring startup Soiltech Wireless, called Thomas “one of the most innovative minds in agriculture today” in a statement.

“I’m excited to support a company like Soiltech Wireless that is collaborating across the industry with technology that can enable sustainable, in-season agronomic decision making all the way to storage management and tracking,” Thomas told AFN in an email. “The AgTech space is exciting and I am looking forward to seeing what SoilTech Wireless accomplishes in the future.”

Sweetgreen’s Chris Carr to leave COO post “for personal reasons.”

Chris Carr joined Sweetgreen during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic — a tumultuous time for restaurants, to say the least.

“He led the simplification of our operations and laid the foundation for scale as we enter our next phase of growth,” Sweetgreen co-founder and CEO Jonathan Neman said of Carr in a statement.

Carr will stay on in “an advisory capacity” until March 17. Effective January 1, 2023, Stephanie Traut, SVP of Operations, will oversee Operations.

Another Zomato co-founder calls it quits

Gunjan Patidar, co-founder and COO, is the fourth co-founder to leave food delivery company Zomato. His leaving follows exits by co-founder Mohit Gupta last year and two other senior executives last month, according to TechCrunch.

Zomato is one of India’s biggest food delivery services. However, the sector as a whole has struggled in recent months thanks to the state of the global economy. For its part, Zomato, which went public in 2021, has seen its shares fall 57% over the last year.

No reason was given for Patidar’s exit.

AppHarvest appoints CEA vet as its new COO

In its latest executive shuffle, controlled environment agriculture (CEA) company AppHarvest has appointed Tony Martin as chief operating officer.

Martin already sits on the AppHarvest board and will remain there in addition to his new role. He spent more than a decade at Windset Farms, which has more than 800 acres of high-tech greenhouse space across North America.

His appointment comes at the same time as a $127 million sale-leaseback deal for one of AppHarvest’s facilities. The company said at the end of last year that it was running out of money.

Founder and CEO Jonathan Webb said in a statement that Martin’s CEA background and “track record for optimizing the efficiency of core operations and consistently achieving revenue growth” would help AppHarvest “accelerate” its “path to profitability.”

Grabango nabs retail tech expert for chief marketing officer

Ken Fenyo joins the company after two and a half years at Coresight Research, where he focused on retail tech insights.

Grabango provides large supermarkets with cashierless checkout technology similar to the kind Amazon made famous its Go stores.

Fenyo’s background is equally a mix of this food retail and technology. His resume includes time as an executive at mega-chain Kroger as well as being CEO of digital coupon startup You Technology.

He’s also apparently a huge believer in cashierless checkout. ““Checkout-free is the future of retail, and it’s clear that Grabango is the only player in the market right now with the technology and expertise to make it an everyday reality,” he told Progressive Grocer.


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