Waitr controversy continues: Founder out as CEO

LAFAYETTE — Chris Meaux will no longer serve as CEO of the popular restaurant-delivery company he founded in 2013.

Waitr’s chief operations officer, Adam Price, has been promoted to CEO.

The changes, which are effective immediately, were announced as part of the company’s second-quarter earnings report. Meaux will remain with Waitr as chairman of the board.

“It’s been a privilege and honor to lead this business since its founding over five years ago and I am very proud of the incredible growth we have achieved over that time,” Meaux said in a statement. “Over the past few months Adam has demonstrated that he has the experience, vision and leadership skills to successfully lead Waitr into its next phase of growth. I look forward to being involved as chairman, focusing on the long-term strategy of the business.”

Waitr also hinted Thursday that the publicly-traded company, based in Lafayette, could become private once again through a sale or merger.

“After consideration of recent interest expressed in the company as a result of its dominant position in core small to medium sized markets, along with a consolidating landscape in the industry as recently announced transactions from other companies in the restaurant delivery space would indicate, Waitr recently commenced a review to explore and evaluate potential strategic alternatives to enhance shareholder value,” the company said in its report. “These alternatives could include, among others, continuing to execute the company’s business plan, including an increased focus on certain standalone strategic initiatives, the disposition of certain assets, a strategic business combination, a transaction that results in private ownership or a sale of the company, or some combination of these.”

Waitr has been in the spotlight this summer after laying off an undisclosed number of employees and rolling out a new “performance-based rate structure” that could mean slimmer profit margins for restaurants. That sparked many restaurants, including more than three dozen in the Houma-Thibodaux area, to boycott the service last month, with a few saying they would leave it altogether after their contracts expire.

The recent changes have come as a shock to south Louisiana, where many people still see Waitr as a small tech company known for helping local restaurants instead of as the publicly-traded company that sold for $308 million last year.

Waitr stock hovered around $12 per share in November when it was first listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange. Waitr stock was trading at about $3 per share Thursday afternoon.

The company’s new CEO announced on Thursday lowered financial expectations through the end of the year.

“Given delays in the roll-out of our planned revenue initiatives, the additional time needed to integrate the Bite Squad merger, as well as current competitive dynamics, we are lowering our full year 2019 revenue guidance to a range of $210 to $220 million,” Price said in a statement.

Earlier this year, Waitr developed a Path to Profitability initiative that will continue into 2020 with the “expectation of improved annual operating cash flows in excess of $10 million,” according to the company’s second-quarter earnings report.

Waitr saw a 218% increase in revenue year-over-year. That’s a revenue of $51.3 million for the quarter that ended June 30 compared to revenue of $16.2 million in the second quarter of 2018.

Price joined Waitr in February as chief logistics officer and was later named the company’s chief operations officer. Before joining Waitr, he spent over five years as CEO of Homer Logistics, a provider of local delivery fulfillment solutions for businesses using logistics technology.

“I am very appreciative of the support that Chris and the Board of Directors have provided to me and excited to lead this exceptional business,” Price said in a statement. “I look forward to working closely with the entire team and executing on our vision to be the most convenient way to discover, order and serve great food in local communities.”


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