Alex Garden and Julia Collins, co-founders of Zume, as pictured in PMQ's June-July 2017 issue.

Pizza Robot Startup Zume to Lay Off 80% of Its Staff

The layoffs follow a mass exodus of Zume executives and an infusion of $375 million from investor Softbank in 2018.

Zume, the Silicon Valley pizza delivery startup featured as PMQ’s cover story in June/July 2017, will lay off up to 400 employees—or 80% of its staff—to save money, according to a report from Business Insider.

Zume, hyped for its pizza-making robots and delivery vehicles outfitted with pizza ovens, attracted $375 million in venture-capital funds from Softbank in late 2018. Softbank valued Zume at about $2.25 billion at that time. Another round of $375 million was expected from Softbank at a later date.

Zume, cofounded by Julia Collins and Alex Garden, is currently valued at about $1 billion.

The layoffs follow a mass exodus of Zume executives, including the original president, its CMO, general counsel and vice president of talent.

Zume started out as Zume Pizza, a technology-first company that used a partially automated assembly line to make its pizzas. The company also developed an algorithm that tracks customer preferences and suggests what kind of pizzas to make on any given day. The pies are par-baked in the Zume kitchen, then transferred to delivery trucks, where they’re placed in computer-operated electric ovens for the finishing bake on the way to the customer’s doorstep.

Zume also developed a fully compostable pizza box, with ridges that elevate the pie from the bottom of the box and grooves that guide excess liquid, oil and grease into a central recess.

In 2017, Collins told PMQ that she and partner Garden had no interest in franchising. “Franchising is a fantastic way to fuel growth, but we are so well-capitalized that it’s not something we have to worry about.