New Interim Chief Executive Officer at Bang Maker

DiDonato replaces founder Owoc in role at Vital Pharmaceuticals
Two cans of Bang Energy Drink, a high caffeine workout type energy beverage from VPX Sports.
Photograph: Shutterstock

There is a new interim CEO at Vital Pharmaceuticals Inc. (VPX), the maker of Bang energy drinks, has named an interim CEO, as founder and CEO John Owoc is out. Chief Transformation Officer John DiDonato is now in the role, effective immediately, the company said.

DiDonato, who will remain chief transformation officer, is the national practice leader and managing director at Huron Consulting Co., Chicago.

John Owoc, VPX founder, CEO, chief science officer and chairman, will no longer serve in his role as CEO and chief science officer nor as a member of the board of directors, said the Weston, Florida-based company, which does business at VPX Sports.

DiDonato brings more than 35 years of experience leading companies through complex financial and operational transformations, VPX said.

“On behalf of the board of directors, we acknowledge Jack’s vision in founding this leading brand and creating a world-class product in the energy drink category,” said Steve Panagos, board chairman. “As the company continues to pursue value maximization, we are grateful to Mr. DiDonato and the executive leadership team for their stewardship and to the talented and hard-working members of the Bang Energy team for their unyielding commitment to the brand.”

Gene Bukovi has been promoted to chief operating officer, the company said. Food and beverage industry veteran Kathy Cole, who was named COO at Bang Energy in October, left the company in December, according to LinkedIn.

Cole’s appointment came after VPX filed for protection in October 2022 under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code in the Southern District of Florida. The bankruptcy protection was announced after a California jury ruled Sept. 29 that Bang must pay Monster Energy $293 million in damages for falsely advertising the “super creatine” ingredient of Bang Energy. The case, which lasted a month, revolved around claims of false advertising and trade secrets against the company and Owoc.

The nine-person jury found that “Bang Energy and its CEO Jack Owoc acted willfully and deliberately in violating the federal Lanham Act by falsely advertising the health benefits of Bang. That decision puts both Bang and Owoc on the hook for possible enhanced damages, which could triple the award,” the USA Herald reported.

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