VELO3D announced the addition of three new board members ahead of its highly anticipated public listing on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the new ticker symbol “VLD.” The leading metal 3D printing manufacturer decided to temporarily expand the number of seats on its board of directors by appointing former GE Vice President Michael Idelchik, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of consulting firm Keystone Strategy Gabrielle Toledano, and Senior Managing Director at FTI Consulting Ellen Smith. Collectively, they represent nearly a century of public and private company leadership experience across aviation, energy, engineering, manufacturing, and operations.
Founded in 2015, the Silicon Valley startup VELO3D operated in stealth mode for the first four years, developing what would become its Flow pre-print software, Sapphire hardware, Assure Quality Assurance and Control System, and patented SupportFree 3D printing solution. During its first year of commercialization, in 2019, VELO3D generated nearly $30 million in sales and gained seven new customers. Since then, it raised more than $150 million in funding before announcing plans to go public through a merger with blank check company Jaws Spitfire Acquisition Corporation (NYSE: SPFR).
The merger deal with the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) will lead to a $1.6 billion valuation and turn VELO3D into the sixth 3D printing company in 2021 to announce the highly anticipated move to the stock market, after Markforged, Rocket Lab, and Rokit Healthcare, as well as Massivit3D and MeaTech. This follows on Desktop Metal’s 2020 SPAC IPO, as well.
With the addition of the new board members ahead of the anticipated public listing, VELO3D has expanded its board to ten directors. However, within just six months after the closing of the SPAC merger deal, the size of the board will decrease to nine individuals. For now, we know that Idelchik, Toledano, and Smith will join seven other board members, including Ofer Shochet, the CEO and Founder of AM nanotechnology Israeli company Copprint; Jory Bell, who is already a board member of other companies like Relativity Space and the General Partner at early-stage investment firm Playground Global, and Stefan Krause, an entrepreneur with extensive blue-chip company experience and previously Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for BMW.
As for the incoming board members, they represent what VELO3D has described as the “voice of the customer.” In fact, company founder and CEO Benny Buller explained that one of the firm’s “guiding principles” is to stay “laser-focused” on solving customer problems and helping customers be successful. He also describes personally asking Idelchik, Toledano, and Smith to join the board because he wanted “the voice of our customers to drive our decision-making process/strategic direction.”
Buller, who was recently a panelist at the virtual SmarTech – Stifel AM Investment Strategies 2021 summit on September 9, 2021, has been outspoken about the importance of speeding up the adoption of 3D printing technologies and for his company in particular to serve the manufacturing needs of industrial low-volume, higher-value customers. Buller stated that the new members will be “major assets to Velo3D as we become a public company and accelerate through our next phase of growth.”
With this in mind, the new board members’ experience, talent, and leadership fit perfectly with Buller’s vision for the company, especially since they all have extensive experience in some of the most renowned firms worldwide, and thereby extensive knowledge about customer-centric strategies that incorporate consumer needs. For example, both Idelchik and Smith worked at GE, one of the most customer-centric companies on the planet.
Idelchik started out at GE in 1978 while doing his master’s degree in mechanical and electrical engineering at MIT. He went on to become Vice President (VP) of advanced technology at GE Global Research, where he led a team of 1,200 scientists, engineers, and technicians from virtually every major scientific and engineering discipline.
During his time at GE Healthcare and GE Lighting, Idelchik built a track record of aligning engineering, manufacturing, and technology to reflect market trends. In 2002 he founded and built the China Engineering, Sourcing, Manufacturing, and Research Technical Center in Shanghai. Currently based in New York, Idelchik holds 18 patents across aviation, healthcare, oil and gas, and power and currently serves as a strategic and technology consultant for various startups, guiding them through product maturity, scale-up, and supply chain development.
Once the VP of Services Sales at GE Energy, Smith joins VELO3D from FTI Consulting, where she served as senior managing director of the Energy, Power, and Products practice. The new board member brings in over 30 years of experience in companies like aerospace manufacturer Pratt & Whitney. Smith also previously served as the chief operating officer at natural gas and electricity firm National Grid U.S. and as vice president of refinery optimization at energy firm Hess.
The third addition to VELO3D’s board is Toledano, who also boasts nearly 30 years of extensive leadership experience in human resources and operations at both enterprise and consumer companies. Toledano says she has a deep passion for developing people and building a strong culture of diversity and inclusion. Already on the board of directors for innovative brands like audio developer Bose, German electric vertical take-off airplane manufacturer Lilium, and video game company Glu Mobile, Toledano also had roles as Executive in Residence for Comcast Ventures and Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) at Tesla, Electronic Arts, and former tech goliath Siebel Systems.
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