A small group of people stand near the entrance to Running Tide at the Marine Trade Center in Portland on Friday. The company, which pioneered ocean carbon removal technology, closed and laid off more than 30 workers Friday morning. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

A Portland-based startup that pioneered ocean carbon-removal technology, and sold credits to offset the emissions of major clients such as Microsoft, shut down and laid off its last employees on Friday because it could no longer sell enough carbon credits to survive, its CEO said.

Running Tide, which had more than 120 workers at its peak, laid off its remaining 32 U.S. employees on Friday, most of whom were based in Portland, CEO Marty Odlin said. Fifteen workers in Iceland, near one of the company’s carbon sequestration sites, also lost their jobs.

Friday’s layoffs, which culminated with a final morning staff meeting at the company’s buoy engineering facility on the Portland Fish Pier, followed several rounds of layoffs that started in November, Odlin said.

“It’s a sad day,” he said in a phone interview. “We built incredible technologies, but the voluntary carbon market just got a lot smaller in the last nine months. We were building this for a growing market and all of a sudden it was shrinking. There isn’t enough demand right now.”

Founded in 2017, after Odlin sold his family’s groundfishing fleet, Atlantic Trawlers, Running Tide had raised more than $50 million in private investment as a trailblazer in the battle against climate change.

It developed technology to deploy pucks of limestone-coated wood waste and balls of kelp in the ocean, where they would capture carbon and sink to the seabed or be eaten by marine animals. It also built and deployed 546 sensors off the Maine coast to monitor environmental impacts in the ocean and operated an oyster hatchery in Harpswell for nearly four years.


Having removed the equivalent of 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide and delivered 21,000 credits since its founding, Running Tide had become the largest company in the world to trap carbon without taking it directly from the air or point of emission. It had 30 academic and commercial partners, 25 enterprise customers, including Microsoft and the e-commerce platform Shopify, and 12,000 total purchasers, according to its website.

Odlin said the collapse of the carbon market became obvious last September. By January, carbon offset prices had tumbled more than 80% over the previous 20 months and the market was suffering from declining confidence and weakening demand, according to CarbonCredits.com.

“This price decline reflects the broader challenges facing the voluntary carbon market, including questions about the actual environmental impact of the credits and the integrity of projects claiming to offset emissions​​,” the industry analyst reported.

Odlin said a lack of support and investment from the U.S. government kept Running Tide from growing beyond a research-sized enterprise into the massive program needed to offset carbon emissions and claw back climate change.

“We’ve really been let down by our government,” Odlin said. “We did our jobs. We fulfilled our contracts. We brought a lot of money into the Maine economy. But this was still at research scale. This needs to be a thousand times larger at industrial scale and it’s going to take a ton of government leadership to get us there.”

Running Tide employees declined to speak with the Press Herald as they left Friday’s final meeting. However, a human resources email provided by one employee showed that Friday was the final payday and they would not be getting severance.


Running Tide, which had offices in the Marine Trade Center on Portland’s waterfront as well as on Danforth Street, has shut down and laid off all of its staff. CEO Marty Odlin said the carbon-capture company struggled amid a collapse in voluntary carbon market prices. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Odlin declined to discuss the company’s exit package but said he reported the layoffs to the Maine Department of Labor, which confirmed it will be helping the workers with job searches and retraining.

Odlin said he’s confident that his employees “will land on their feet” and find new jobs quickly, possibly in the same or a related field.

The company will vacate its leased facilities in Portland, he said, including the buoy engineering shop at the Marine Trade Center on the Portland Fish Pier, now-empty offices at 30 Danforth St. and laboratory space on outer Congress Street.


“Losing Running Tide in the Marine Trade Center is disappointing,” said Bill Needelman, waterfront coordinator for the city of Portland. “We wish the best to their employees. They should reach out to us if they need anything.”

The engineering space in the trade center is next door to the Portland Harbor Master’s offices.


“They brought a lot of vitality to the pier in the last two years,” said Maya Howard, assistant harbor master. “They had a lot of young people working with them, conducting experiments, monitoring tanks, collecting data.”

Running Tide had inked a new agreement with Microsoft in March 2023 to remove the equivalent of 12,000 tons of carbon dioxide over the next two years.

Shopify purchased credits from Running Tide as part of a $5 million annual effort to support entrepreneurs working to reverse climate change.

Odlin notified both companies that Running Tide is shutting down, he said. A spokesperson for Microsoft declined to answer questions about the company’s closure. Shopify could not be reached for comment.

Odlin said he’s proud of Running Tide’s accomplishments and he believes the technologies it developed will contribute to continuing efforts to control carbon emissions.

“It’s incredible that this started here in Maine, ” he said. “This work is going to continue. I have a lot of hope.”

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