- Coca-Cola has continued to dabble in the startup space to improve strategic areas ranging from logistics to marketing via a Tel Aviv-based program called The Bridge, according to a report in TechCrunch. Coke shuttered its Founder's Program startup accelerator at the beginning of the year.
- Coke is differentiating The Bridge from startup accelerators and incubators by having the project's goal be making and saving money for the company, Gaby Czertok, The Bridge program's general manager, told TechCrunch in an interview, where she noted that The Bridge is a "commercialization program."
- The Bridge has seen some success in that regard: Snapchat parent company Snap Inc. acquired one of its startups, Cimagine, late last year, and another program participant, Bringg, raised $10 million in an investment round that included The Coca-Cola Co. Several other companies have also signed onto The Bridge's partner program, including Coke's Atlanta neighbor Turner Broadcasting, with plans to add Mercedes-Benz, per TechCrunch. Despite the differences in the three companies' business, Czertok told TechCrunch there's about a 70% overlap in their startup interest areas.
Coke has been undergoing significant changes to its corporate structure as it adjusts to becoming a more digitally-focused brand. The soft drink giant lost a number of top marketing executives over the past several months, most notably Global CMO Marcos de Quinto, who announced his retirement in March with no replacement.
Even as it attempts to readjust marketing strategy, Coke is clearly seeing some success in new, innovative areas via The Bridge, which might come as a surprise given its shuttering of the similar Founder's Program. Coke dropped the latter after deciding to focus on marketing innovation resources around projects within its beverage portfolio rather than startups.
The Bridge program indicates Coke still has a corporate interest in startups, but it might be more in the sense that it can groom them and be invested in their success as they grow rather than build technology directly applicable to its core soda business.