From How Hampton Creek Sold Silicon Valley on a Fake Mayo Miracle by Olivia Zaleski, Peter Waldman and Ellen Huet :
“First, she thanked the unit, which became known inside Hampton Creek as the special projects group, for their “hard work in Whole Foods.” Then she tried to inspire them. “We are winning because of you,” she wrote. “We are reinventing the food system because of you. We are changing the world because of you.”
“This is mainstream,” she continued. To ensure “huge sales out of the gate” and “put an end to Hellmann’s factory-farmed egg mayo,” Love gave the Creeker elite five days to purchase “at least” 12 jars of Just Mayo at Safeway stores assigned to them. Use the self-checkout lane or multiple cashiers to avoid suspicion, she instructed. And don’t wear Hampton Creek gear—“This is an undercover project.” There was no pretense of quality monitoring. Subsequent assignments were for 20 jars per store.
Creekers did buybacks throughout 2014 and into 2015, according to five of them. They hit Costco, Kroger, Target, and Walmart stores, in addition to Safeway and Whole Foods, former employees say.
Another West Coast Creeker says Tetrick was like a religious pastor who inspired his charges—many of them women under 35 like her—with his vision of fixing a corrupt corporate food system. “He was such a dude—really raw, such a presence, entirely authentic,” she says. He made this Creeker feel like she could make a difference in the world. “I honestly felt blessed to have met him,” she says.
Her first buyback assignment was in April 2014. That year she hit multiple Safeways, purchasing more than 500 jars of Just Mayo in all. Quality control never came up, she says. She donated the jars to hospitals, passed them out to friends, and finally started leaving boxes on the street. Now she suspects she was helping commit fraud, and it gnaws at her.
“Why was I willing to work so hard for so little money?” she asks. “Why did I do things that made me really uncomfortable, that I knew weren’t right? I’m really struggling with those questions.”
If it sounds too good to be true…you know the drill. Read the rest here: