Ryan Petersen, chief executive officer of Flexport, participates in a panel discussion during the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., on Wednesday, May 4, 2022.
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Two days after returning to run Flexport, founder Ryan Petersen said Friday that his logistics company will rescind 55 offer letters and look to lease out office space across the U.S. as it tries to get its “house in order.”
In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, Petersen wrote that the company “can’t just give out cash.” In reclaiming the top position at Flexport, Petersen is displacing his handpicked successor, former Amazon executive Dave Clark, a little more than a year into his tenure.
Petersen offered a harsh assessment of Clark’s growth strategy, questioning why the company had “over 200 open roles” on its website, and noting that all those have been canceled other than “a handful of roles” tied to what Petersen called the most important projects.
“I am deeply sorry to those people who were expecting to join our company and won’t be able to at this time. It’s messed up,” Petersen wrote. “But no way around it, we have had a hiring freeze for months I have no ideas why more than 75 people were signed to join.”
Flexport’s hiring page still listed more than 100 open roles as of Friday morning.
Clark’s sudden departure marked a surprising turn for a company that’s been viewed for several years as one of the hottest startups in the Bay Area. Flexport ranked 10th in CNBC’s latest Disruptor 50 list and has been valued at $8 billion by prominent venture firms, including Andreessen Horowitz and Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund.
A spokesperson for the company acknowledged Friday that a number of executives were “no longer with Flexport” but declined to provide further detail on the nature of Clark’s departure, Petersen’s comments on social media, or the company’s path to profitability.
The former head of Amazon’s giant worldwide consumer business, Clark was expected to travel to Seattle for a meeting with clients to launch an unspecified “fuelled solution” for small and medium-size businesses. The event’s launch page had featured Clark’s name as recently as Wednesday, the day his departure was announced, according to archived versions of the page.
Petersen said in his posts that the company remained fiscally sound, with more than $1 billion in net cash, but said it remained “far from profitable.” The company would also move to lease out unoccupied office space across the country, in Dallas, San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York, Petersen said.
Petersen pushed back against criticism that the board had been asleep at the wheel.
“We were on it,” Petersen wrote in response to a post. “Just trusting in the growth plan which hasn’t come through. It’s all good I know how to grow this business. But gotta get costs in line first.”
Teresa Carlson, a key hire of Clark’s who served as Flexport’s president and chief commercial officer, announced she was no longer with the company in a LinkedIn post on Thursday. Carlson was a vice president at Amazon’s cloud-computing unit and held high-level posts at Microsoft and Splunk.
Petersen founded Flexport in 2013, aiming to reinvent how companies monitor and control all stages of the supply chain through real-time tracking of inventory across air, land and sea.