Last month, a report surfaced that the nation’s largest vaping company, Juul Labs, suffered its worst year ever, with a $480 million net loss, dropping 40 percent in value and 2,200 job losses.
Now a group of Juul employees have penned an internal missive, detailing the company’s complicated and frustrating learning curve.
Written in November and released to the public last week, the “A Work in Progress” document shows that growing pains have started showing and executives are still struggling to figure out how to get ahead.
Employees were recently inundated with an email that blamed the recent struggles on the company’s sluggish pace of transition.
“The progress at Juul has been too slow,” the company wrote in the November message. “Our tone management efforts have not addressed the changing expectations of our employees, and our team engagement and understanding have not increased to an acceptable level of confidence.”
Among the more troubling revelations in the document are the employees’ unhappiness with the chain of command and the fact that many managers are leaving.
“Morale is at an all-time low due to the fierce competition within the management team and the executive level for titles and position,” the employees said. “There are long-time company leaders that are struggling to maintain a leadership role while the company is growing and changing. As a result, a new generation of managers is filling positions often with junior executives.”
Juul has come under fire for making its products more readily available to minors, even as it faces criminal investigations and has been subpoenaed by the U.S. government.
In November, the FDA halted sales of a new line of e-cig flavors Juul had recently introduced, and in January, the U.S. Justice Department subpoenaed documents from the company.
The company has also been facing lawsuits alleging that its electronic cigarettes make teenagers want to use nicotine — a charge that company CEO Kevin Burns has denied.
Despite the recent turn of events, Juul’s venture capitalist has indicated that the company will endure. “Today’s headlines do not reflect what is happening inside this company,” Brett Wilson, founder of Forty Seven Ventures, told The New York Times in November. “I think we are still a very early stage.”