Upside Foods, Peet’s Coffee, Amyris, Eko Health, PhenomeX and BioMed Realty.

E’ville Biz: Upside Foods Scrutinized, JDE Peet’s Criticized For Russia Business; Amyris Files for Bankruptcy; Eko Health Signs Lease; PhenomeX Acquired

3 mins read

Our latest digest of Emeryville-centric business news includes stories about Upside Foods, Peet’s Coffee, Amyris, Eko Health, PhenomeX and the Emery Yards Project.

Lab-grown meat startup Upside Foods, who debuted their “EPIC” product facility in the city two years ago, seems to be under growing scrutiny by the media. Both Wired and the Washington Post have recently published stories pointing out possibly misleading capabilities of their technology. The huge bioreactors that can be seen from the ground floor windows of the facility are apparently mostly for show according to one report and employees have jokingly referred to the company as “the next Theranos.” Upside’s CEO & Founder Uma Valeti recently did an interview with TechCrunch to address the company’s challenges with scaling production of their growingly popular products.

The parent company of Emeryville-headquartered Peet’s Coffee is being criticized for maintaining business in Russia amid the country’s invasion and ongoing offensive in Ukraine. Under pressure, several large American and European companies have curtailed or completely ceased operations in Russia while JDE Peet’s has not. The Berkeley-founded coffee roaster was acquired by Germany-based JAB Holding in 2012 and are now headquartered in Amsterdam. JDE Peet’s currently sells their coffee brand “Jacobs” in Russia but have plans to rebrand in for Russian market.

Also, Once high-flying Biotech company Amyris recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and also recently announced they were cutting 62 jobs.

In good news, medical device firm Eko Health has signed a lease at the “Tanium” building on Powell Street. Emeryville’s office vacancy rate according to a June Colliers report was a staggering 26.5%.

PhenomeX (formerly known as “Berkeley Lights”) has been acquired by Massachusetts based Life Sciences company Bruker Corporation.

In addition, a recent SF Business Times piece details the financial benfit of the BioMed Realty “Emery Yards” project including $650 million worth of building permit applications.

Amyris files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

Biotech firm Amyris Inc (AMRS.O) on Wednesday said it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in a U.S. court and is planning to sell its consumer brands to improve the company’s liquidity position.

Amyris said it has secured a $190 million financing commitment to support day-to-day operations, adding that its entities outside the U.S. are not included in the bankruptcy proceedings.


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Insiders Reveal Major Problems at Lab-Grown-Meat Startup Upside Foods

On July 1, five diners sat down at the counter of the Michelin-starred Bar Crenn in San Francisco for an unusual meal. They had won a competition to become the first customers in the US to eat cultivated meat—real animal cells grown in bioreactors instead of a living animal. For a nominal price of $1, they tucked into two pieces of a cultivated chicken fillet made by the California startup Upside Foods, one of only two companies cleared to sell cultivated meat in the US. “I thought it was delicious,” says Oscar Merino, one of the diners. “The taste and the texture was incredible.”


Bay Area life sciences boom prompted unprecedented surge of activity in Emeryville, data finds

By Sarah Klearman

Developer interest in the East Bay city of Emeryville surged amid the last two years’ worth of boom times for the Bay Area’s biotech sector, new data shows.

Emeryville received building permit applications for $381 million worth of new development in fiscal year 2022-23, according to a city report released Tuesday, up from $271 million in fiscal year 2021-22. Both figures represent a significant spike in activity for Emeryville, which reported receiving an average of $142 million worth of applications between 2000 and 2023.

Read More on SF Business Times (subject to paywall)

JDE Peet’s CEO gives three reasons why it hasn’t ceased operations in the country

By Bruce Gil

The parent company of Peet’s Coffee is taking steps to keep operations going in Russia.

In a candid interview with The Wall Street Journal JDE Peet’s CEO Fabien Simon told the newspaper that the company is renaming its major brand in the country, as well as restructuring its supply chain in order to keep doing business in Russia.


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Eko Health

East Bay office tower lands lease with cutting-edge stethoscope maker

By George Avalos

A maker of cutting-edge stethoscopes has leased a big chunk of space in an East Bay office tower, offering some signs of hope in a dreary landscape for the Bay Area office market.

Eko Health, which makes digital stethoscopes, leased office space at 2100 Powell Street in Emeryville, according to JLL, a commercial real estate firm that arranged the rental agreement.

Read More on East Bay Times

PhenomeX stock rallies by 137% after buyout offer from Bruker

By Steve Gelsi

PhenomeX Inc. CELL, +0.05% stock has more than doubled on Thursday after Bruker Corp. BRKR, -1.51% said it would acquire the Emeryville, Calif.-based, cell biology company for $1 a share in a deal that values the company at $108 million. PhenomeX stock was up by 54 cents to just under 95 cents a share in recent trades. The deal comes after PhenomeX was formed early this year via the combination of Berkeley Lights and IsoPlexis. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter. Bruker Corp. stock was down by 2.8% in recent trades.


9/22 Correction: We have edited the blurb about Peet’s to clarify that it is the parent company of Peet’s and not the Peet’s brand that is selling products in Russia.

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Rob Arias

is a third generation Californian and East Bay native who lived in Emeryville from 2003 to 2021. Rob founded The E'ville Eye in 2011 after being robbed at gunpoint and lamenting the lack of local news coverage. Rob's "day job" is as a creative professional.

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