Theodore Tewksbury to take over as Velodyne CEO

Velodyne Lidar is welcoming a new CEO. The sensor company said that Theodore Tewksbury would take over the role starting November 10, the most recent in a string of changes to Velodyne’s C-suite since the beginning of this year.

“I was attracted to Velodyne for a very simple reason which is, as you all know, the company is the undisputed lidar technology pioneer and market leader,” Tewksbury said during the company’s third-quarter earnings call. “I have a proven track record of building and scaling innovative technology businesses, and driving revenue growth, profitability and shareholder value, which in my view is exactly what Velodyne needs today.”

Most recently, Tewksbury was the CEO of Eta Compute, a company that develops edge vision sensors. He’s also served on the board of Jariet Technologies and MaxLinear, in addition to acting as chief executive at Energy Focus, Entropic Communications and IDT.

The company has been without a CEO for several months, after Velodyne announced the departure of Anand Gopalan in July, after around a year and a half on the job. Instead of immediately finding a replacement or appointing an interim CEO, Velodyne set up an “Office of the Chief Executive,” which consisted of a handful of C-suite executives, alongside an executive search committee.

Prior to Gopalan’s tenure, Velodyne had been caught in the throes of internal chaos, with the company’s founder, David Hall, pitted against the company’s board of directors. Things took a turn for the worse around the time that Velodyne completed its $1.8 billion SPAC merger with Graf Industrial Corp. last summer. Hall stepped down and his wife, Marta Thoma Hall, who was acting as chief marketing officer, was removed after an internal investigation concluded that they “each behaved inappropriately with regard to Board and Company processes, and failed to operate with respect, honesty, integrity, and candor in their dealings with Company officers and directors.”

Since that time, Hall has not gone quietly: he issued a letter to shareholders last month outlining problems with the company and stating his intent to nominate two new board members.

“I will not allow Velodyne Lidar to continue to stagnate under current leadership,” Hall wrote, adding “I intend to nominate two highly-qualified director candidates.”

Turning to the company’s financial results, Velodyne altered its full-year revenue guidance to between $60 million and $63 million, down from between $77 million and $94 million at the end of the previous quarter this year. The decrease is due to moving into mass commercialization, and customers expecting “consistency of performance,” CFO Drew Hamer said on an investor call Thursday. “This is a natural evolution from the R&D purchases our customers had done with us historically, where test samples were acceptable.”

He added that the company is finding nonrecurring engineering fees difficult to forecast, so these potential contracts were subtracted from the guidance “unless we have a signed agreement in hand.”

The company’s operating expenses are also significantly down compared to the previous quarter, mostly due to marketing and sales expenses shrunk down to $6.5 million, compared to a whopping $47 million in the second quarter.