December 14, 2020 – Executive search firm Hobbs & Towne has assisted in the placement of Vanderbilt University biochemistry department chair John D. York as chief science officer at Impossible Foods. CEO Andy Towne led the assignment along with partner Ryan Houder for the search firm.
Dr. York, whose first day at Impossible Foods will be Jan. 4, will serve on the senior leadership team and oversee research and development, and product innovation. He will report directly to CEO and founder Patrick O. Brown. Under Dr. York’s leadership, Impossible Foods will continue to build its food technology platform and expand basic research capabilities to accelerate next-generation products. “Throughout his career, John has contributed to discoveries in biochemistry thanks to his curiosity and risk tolerance,” said Dr. Brown, a Stanford University professor emeritus. “Just as important, he’s a proven and strong mentor and team leader. I’m confident that John will make an immediate, positive contribution and quickly become an inspiring role model within our expanding R&D team.”
Dr. York, a former investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, has led the biochemistry department at Vanderbilt University since 2012. His team paved the way for discoveries in protein structure and function, cell signaling and molecular genetics. Dr. York’s team helped discover how cells enhance signaling specificity through generation of diverse chemical messengers.
“The opportunity to use biochemistry to save the planet is a spectacular motivation,” Dr. York said. “That Impossible Foods is rooted in discovery science and engineering as a key innovation platform resonates with my core values and life-long pursuits in research. It’s an honor and privilege to be part of the team, and I look forward to the limitless future possibilities.”
Based in California’s Silicon Valley, Impossible Foods makes what it describes as delicious, nutritious meat and dairy products from plants — with a much smaller environmental footprint than meat from animals. The privately held food-tech start-up was founded in 2011. Investors include Mirae Asset Global Investments, Khosla Ventures, Bill Gates, Google Ventures, Horizons Ventures, UBS, Viking Global Investors, Temasek, Sailing Capital and Open Philanthropy Project.
Founded in 1997, Hobbs & Towne is an executive search and advisory services firm. Partnering with venture capital, private equity, and family office investors, as well as large, global companies, the firm has recruited across some of the most impactful technology categories, including but not limited to aerospace, agriculture, AI, bio and medical, data science, energy, food, IOT, mobility, robotics, and sustainability. Hobbs & Towne has performed over 2,500 executive searches over the last 20-plus years. The firm has offices in San Francisco, Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, and London.
Hobbs & Towne has completed searches for the specific roles of chairman, executive chairman, audit chair, CEO, COO, CFO, CTO, CSO, CCO, CMO, chief architect, chief engineer, general counsel and mandates at the EVP, SVP and VP level in technology, engineering, research and development, process development, software development, intellectual property, operations, manufacturing, supply chain, logistics, quality, human resources, finance, accounting, project finance, project development, asset management, development, business development, sales, customer success, marketing, product management, digital and regulatory.
Mr. Towne has been providing advisory and executive search services for over 25 years. He has personally completed over 500 executive searches, including over 150 of the firm’s 300-plus CEO searches. He has partnered with many of the premier investors around the world to build top-tier investment teams and leadership teams for transformative companies.
Mr. Houder is a member of Hobbs & Towne’s West Coast team, helping grow the firm’s presence within brands, food and agriculture technology, digital health, and industrial technology. Mr. Houder has completed board, C-level and VP-level searches. He has worked closely with the portfolio companies of venture capital and private equity firms such as Stray Dog Capital, Khosla Ventures, CAVU Ventures, 301 Inc., Oak Tree Capital, True North Venture Partners and Pegasus Capital.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media