Caffeinated water brand Avitae has laid off its entire staff and is in the process of liquidating its remaining inventory, according to former employees.
Brian Pitzer, who founded Avitae in 2009, was ousted as CEO in September by the company’s board of directors, the employees say. Multiple calls to Pitzer have not been returned.
The majority of the company’s employees were laid off on November 1.
The shutdown follows a year in which the company had announced a succession of sales victories, including a national distribution deal with Office Depot, retail authorizations in Safeway’s eastern division, Wegmans, and Gelson’s, as well as a major sponsorship agreement with the Arena Football League in which that sport’s championship game was called the Avitae ArenaBowl.
But conversations with the former employees revealed that the board had begun to question the company’s sales and distribution numbers prior to Pitzer’s removal. Following Pitzer’s departure, the board hired turnaround consultant Robert Amodie to extract as much of the $4.2 million that investors – including several on the board – had invested in the company. While the product is still listed for sale on OfficeDepot.com and Amazon.com, sources said that the company’s remaining inventory is being liquidated through a distributor client in Mexico.
A number of former employees have filed or are in the process of filing lawsuits against Avitae for back pay and expenses, according to one source.
Calls to Mr. Amodie were not returned.