One of the more controversial startups of this decade, Juul, the e-cigarette company, sparked national outrage, congressional investigations, and criticism by the Food and Drug Administration, leading to total product bans in some countries.
Juul's rise was fast, thanks in part to its marketing strategy. Advertisements on social media — depicting young adults in flashy, bright-colored ads promoting e-cigarette flavors like cucumber and mango — are what some critics attribute to the epidemic of teenage nicotine use. A year after Juul's launch, sales rose 700%, selling over 1 million products.
But in September, Juul's CEO stepped down under increasing scrutiny over vaping's effect on lung health, despite the company touting its product as the safer alternative to cigarettes. The company also recently halted advertising in the US and its lobbying efforts in Washington. Its valuation fell from $38 billion earlier this year.