To say that 3D Systems has had a rough couple of years would be a huge understatement. As the company watched their stock prices reach shocking lows, and stay there, customers virtually ignored their line of consumer desktop 3D printers, causing them to abandon the market entirely. A facility closure last year left many of the company’s best products with their development teams gutted, and the high profile exit of former CEO Avi Reichental resulted in a company that has seemingly been adrift aimlessly since. Even a small bump in stock prices was short lived, and the eventual hiring of new CEO Vyomesh Joshi took six months and left stock holders with little confidence that the company could turn things around.
The executive board of 3D Systems has always been considered top heavy, with leadership positions being filled by holdovers from past acquisitions, many of whom had extraneous jobs that often came into conflict with other departments. Many insiders blamed the dysfunctional corporate culture as the primary reason that 3D Systems was never able to recover from their stock woes, and without a doubt it needed to be the first thing that Joshi addressed when he took over. Publicly, Joshi mapped out his plan for the struggling company by focusing more on expanding their existing customer base and selling them a greater range of products rather than focusing on technology innovation.
However, a few weeks ago a source within 3D Systems told me that Joshi was more interested in fixing the internal conflicts of the management teams and defining clearer roles for them. At the time it was just idle gossip that really didn’t seem to indicate that there would be any internal shakeups, but now I’m not so sure. This week 3D Systems notified the SEC that two of its top executive team members will be leaving the company within the next two weeks. COO Mark Wright is expected to resign on June 17, while CMO Cathy Lewis will be resigning at the end of this week on June 10. Whether they were asked to leave, or this was just coincidental timing I’m not certain, however it is odd that the company chose to file the SEC paperwork before releasing a press release about the departures.
Wright came from Lenovo back in 2014 where he was the senior VP of business development and operations, and previous to that position he had worked for EMC Corporation for 18 years. Wright was specifically brought in to help grow the business which at the time had just started to see its stock prices sharply decline. Lewis was the former CEO of Desktop Factory, a small UK-based 3D printer manufacturer that was acquired by 3D Systems back in 2009. She was a holdover from that acquisition and was given a leadership position at 3D Systems as part of the deal. As of press time 3D Systems has still made no formal announcements of these executive departures. There is also no indication of who, or in fact if anyone, will be replacing Wright and Lewis, or if their duties will be transferred to other members of the executive staff.
Despite the company’s continued losses and seeming inability to recover, Wright and Lewis are the first senior executives since Reichental tended his resignation in October 2015 to leave the company, despite significant facility closures, personnel cutbacks and layoffs. However, it is possible that these departures had been planned since those cutbacks were announced back in October, as rumors at the time suggested higher level 3D Systems management was being offered bonuses to stay with the company until their Andover facility closure was complete. Discuss over in the 3D Systems Resignations forum over at 3DPB.com.
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