Daan Kersten is now the former CEO of Additive Industries.
Additive Industries is one of the leading metal 3D printer producers, located in Eindhoven, and now marketing their powerful products worldwide. Their innovative multi-stage metal 3D printing system’s design was among the first to recognize the total lifecycle required to complete metal 3D prints, and placed them in a successful position to grow substantially, which they did.
Kersten was one of the original founders of Additive Industries and led the organization through its initial stages of establishment and growth. Today the company operates around the globe, with several offices in Asia, North America and Europe.
Kersten said in his farewell LinkedIn post on 1 July:
“Today was the last day of my adventure called Additive Industries. Catching the first wave in the summer of 2012, I was fortunate to spend 8 years paddling, learning, falling and standing up, feeling the speed picking up … What an amazing ride it was. A HUGE THANK YOU to my co-founder Jonas Wintermans, my fellow Board members Mark Vaes and Ilko Bosman, my global management team, all team members in USA, Singapore, UK and Eindhoven, customers, suppliers, development partners and my family. Now it is time to take a break, look back at this ride and relax.”
We all knew Kersten was departing, as it was announced as part of an investment deal with Additive Industries that took place a few weeks ago. Evidently the investor not only poured in new money to help the company grow and raise its market value, but also purchased Kersten’s shares of the company.
The reason for Kersten’s departure was not specifically announced.
Additive Industries Leadership
Changes in top leadership are always of critical importance to a company as a change in direction can significantly impact the fate of the organization, for good or bad. Thus it might be worth some words to speculate on what might be happening here.
In my experience in the corporate and startup worlds, there are stages that a company passes through as it grows. While the founders of a company might be highly skilled at getting things initially organized, they might not have the skills to optimize and grow the company. No one is skilled in everything, after all.
Thus many successful startups see a sequence of differently-skilled CEOs come and go as the company evolves into different stages of its lifecycle. Smart boards of directors will carefully choose a new CEO that fits the needs of the company for its current state.
In the past I’ve seen several occasions where technically-oriented founders step aside to allow a more business-focused individual take on the CEO role, for example. In another case I saw the CEO step aside to allow a more experienced CEO enter to prepare the company for an IPO (initial public share offering). It’s actually rare for the initial founder to keep running the company forever, so changes do happen from time to time, and that seems to be the case at Additive Industries.
It may be that Additive Industries has been placed in an incredibly good position for significant future growth by Kersten’s leadership, particularly with the most recent investments. But perhaps their Board feels someone with different skills, specifically for that type of expansion, might be more suitable at this moment in the company’s trajectory.
Kersten Checks Out
On the other hand, there may be another reason for the change. Kersten says “it is time to take a break, look back at this ride and relax”, and it could be as simple as that.
Readers may not realize that when a company is founded and grows, the founders (who are almost always the initial shareholders) can be share-rich but cash-poor. Shares in privately held companies cannot easily be sold as you might see done on public stock exchanges. That’s the purpose of a stock exchange: to connect buyers and sellers. Those connections are not available to private share sellers.
The only time privately held shares can reasonably be sold is when a private investor expresses interest, and those events are rare. However, that’s exactly what happened here: the investor was able to acquire Kersten’s shares in the same transaction.
It’s not often someone gets the chance to say “Check Please!” in life, but that’s precisely the opportunity Kersten had, and he took it.
Daan is one of the good guys in 3D printing, and I personally would like to thank him for being so kind to us at Fabbaloo over the years and congratulate him and Additive Industries on the tremendous success they’ve had thus far.