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Presto CEO Rajat Suri steps down

The founder of the restaurant automation company will move on to other endeavors while the board searches for his replacement.
Presto at Nasdaq
Suri, center, founded Presto in 2008 and grew it into a public company. / Photo courtesy of Presto

Rajat Suri, the founder and CEO of restaurant automation provider Presto, is leaving the company.

Presto said in a press release that Suri is leaving to “pursue other creative endeavors.” He’s also leaving the board, but will continue to serve as a strategic advisor.

He’ll be replaced on an interim basis by Krishna Gupta, Presto’s chairman and its first investor back in 2008.

Presto offers a number of tech products for restaurants, but its focus recently has been on AI voice bots for drive-thrus. Checkers and Rally’s and Del Taco use Presto’s drive-thru system.

Suri founded the company in 2008 after dropping out of MIT. Its first product was a rudimentary pay-at-the-table device. Presto went on to create more high-tech ordering and payment tablets as well as voice and camera systems for restaurants. 

In September, Presto went public through a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC), marking a big step for restaurant automation. But the transition to NASDAQ has not been a slam dunk for the company so far. Its stock is down nearly 8% this year, to about $2, and it has yet to turn a profit. Presto has said it expects to operate at a loss until 2024 as it works to expand its customer base.

Suri has remained firm in his belief that automation is the future of restaurants as labor costs rise.  

“Our customers believe that [automation] is happening now,” he said in September. “Investors may not know that. So I think the proof will be in the pudding over the next couple of months.”

In a statement Monday, Suri said, “I've had an absolute blast working with the fantastic Presto team on cutting-edge products the world has never seen before.

“We've built the best technology company in this industry, combining both innovation and scalability, and we continue to lead in our markets. Presto is in good hands with a world-class leadership team and dedicated Board members who will take the Company to the next level.”

Gupta, who is the founder and CEO of venture-capital firm Remus Capital, called Suri a “visionary.” 

Under his guidance, the Company has clearly established itself as a revolutionary technology leader in the hospitality industry,” the 35-year-old said in a statement. “The Board is grateful for his commitment to the Company and to improving the restaurant experience.”

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