Stratasys suddenly announced the departure of CEO David Reis and the appointment of a new CEO.
At the time of the merger, it seemed a bit strange to have the CEO of the acquired company leading the new merged entity, but over time it’s become quite apparent the transaction was a kind of reverse merger. Nevertheless, since 2012, Reis has been at the helm of the world’s largest 3D printing company.
This week Reis apparently retired from the CEO position as of June 30, but remaining on the board of directors.
Meanwhile, Stratasys has appointed Ilan Levin, another board member, as the new CEO. Levin has been with Objet / Stratasys for over fifteen years.
Of the change, Reis said:
It has been a privilege to lead Stratasys and its very talented team during a truly transformative period for our company and industry. The time has come to transition leadership, and I am extremely pleased to have a highly-capable successor who has extensive knowledge of all aspects of Stratasys, including our technologies, markets and strategic roadmap. Ilan is an additive manufacturing pioneer, and has been a key figure in our industry for many years. I am confident in his ability to conduct a seamless transition and lead our company into the future.
But when times are tough at companies, you often see changes at the top. In fact, Stratasys’ most notable rival, 3D Systems, did just that last fall when they abruptly detached from their long-time CEO.
In that case, the departing CEO “stepped down” and was immediately replaced by a temporary leader, who again was replaced when a permanent CEO was identified.
But this change is perhaps a bit different. Reis is said to be “retiring” from the role. However, he is only age 55, if reports are correct. That’s a bit young for a retirement, I think. However, remember Reis’ words: “The time has come to transition leadership”. I think that’s exactly what Stratasys is doing here.
While they company is not in as dire straights as some other 3D print operations, things are not yet optimal and perhaps the company felt a changeup is required, if only to provide investors some optimism. This effect certainly worked at 3D Systems, where the mere presence of a new CEO caused their stock price to rise, even when the new guy hadn’t yet done anything!
There is also the matter of the ill-fated MakerBot acquisition, where it eventually turned out that Stratasys had drastically overpaid for the desktop 3D printer manufacturer. A mistake, to be sure in retrospect, but one made during the height of the frenzy over personal 3D printing in 2013.
I don’t believe that’s the cause of this change, as it was known long ago. No, I think the world picture of industrial 3D printing is becoming a bit different, with new players such as HP, Carbon and others entering the market, with a continuous flow of new and unique processes, any of which could severely disrupt existing 3D print businesses.
It may be Stratasys wants to engage new leadership that can handle the coming threats and opportunities.
In such moves there is often more to the story than is made public, and it’s likely we will never know the facts of the case.
However, the new CEO, Levin, is a board member, like Reis. Essentially, they’ve simply swapped a board member with the CEO, in both directions. They’re not saying so, but it may be possible that the new CEO appointment is temporary while they find a new player.