Calyxt CEO Federico Tripodi leaves abruptly

  • Push-out Score suggests push-out forces
  • After about two years in the position
  • Thanks and good wishes for Tripodi
  • Yves Ribeill taking over in the interim

(exechange) — Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, and New York, August 22, 2018 — Federico Tripodi, chief executive of Calyxt, leaves. It is an abrupt change. As announced by Calyxt, Inc. in a news release on Wednesday, August 22, 2018, Federico A. Tripodi leaves his post as Chief Executive Officer at the food- and agriculture-focused company after about two years in the role, effective immediately.

No company wants a CEO to flame out in the first years.

Among the 3,000 largest publicly held companies incorporated in the U.S. based on market capitalization, the average tenure of the CEOs who departed over the past 12 months was 9.3 years, according to data compiled by exechange. Only 21 percent of the CEOs who departed over the past 12 months left the position within three years.

Tripodi’s duties will be taken over in the interim by Yves Ribeill, a former Chief Executive Officer of Scynexis, Inc., as Interim Chief Executive Officer.

Already a director

Ribeill is already a director of Calyxt. Often a board member is a last resort, someone who is turned to in desperation when a company cannot find suitable candidates. On the other hand, directors-turned-executives represent a blend of outsider and insider.

They don’t have the constraints of a pure insider when it comes to leading painful changes or making unpopular decisions, and they have more company knowledge than a pure outsider.

Having been a director, Ribeill understands the expectations and dynamics of the board and has knowledge of Calyxt’s organization, risk-management practices and strategy.

“To pursue other opportunities”

Tripodi’s sudden departure from the CEO post is explained as follows. Calyxt said: “Dr. Ribeill replaces Federico Tripodi, who is leaving the Company to pursue other opportunities.”

The phrase “to pursue other opportunities” opens the door to speculation.

Precise information about Tripodi’s future plans was not immediately available.

Alarm signal

Generally speaking, it is often an alarm signal for stockholders when a CEO leaves the post abruptly and without a reasonable explanation.

Share price decline

The change follows a decline in the share price of Calyxt, Inc. since October 2017.

Chaired by André Choulika

Calyxt, Inc. is chaired by André Choulika.

André Choulika, Ph.D., has served as Chairman of the Company’s Board of Directors since August 2010.

In the position of CEO since 2016

Federico A. Tripodi has been the Chief Executive Officer of Calyxt, Inc. since May 23, 2016.

He holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Washington University’s Olin Business School, as well as an agronomic engineering degree from Buenos Aires University, and has gathered extensive experience in agricultural R&D and product development during his nearly two-decade career in the agriculture biotechnology and seeds industry.

Prior to joining Calyxt, Tripodi worked as General Manager for Monsanto Company’s Sugarcane Division in Brazil for nearly three years.

He held other roles for Monsanto in Saint Louis, Missouri, spanning Corporate Strategy (2011-2013), Omega-3 Program Lead (2009-2011), Oilseeds Global Quality Management Lead (2008-2009) and multiple other roles that involved managing multidisciplinary research teams in the technology organization between 2001 and 2008.

During his tenure at Monsanto, Tripodi led or participated with early discovery and late commercialization phase product launches across the Americas, which included biotech consumer traits (improved composition soybean oils) and farmer traits (high yield, drought tolerance, insect protection and herbicide tolerance).

Tripodi started his career in Argentina in 1998 in field research of biotechnology traits and chemistry formulations until he moved to Saint Louis in 2001.

Tripodi also has experience as a director of a startup and served on the board of directors for a not-for profit.

At the time of Tripodi’s appointment as Chief Executive Officer at Calyxt, André Choulika, then Chairman of Calyxt’s Board of Directors, Chairman and CEO of Cellectis SA sole shareholder of Calyxt, had said: “Federico has nearly two decades of experience in agricultural R&D, and his extensive professional background in this space makes him a perfect fit for Calyxt. His successful track record in developing and bringing products to market – coupled with his broad experience in managing relationships with customers, partners, suppliers and academics – adds another valuable layer to our senior management team. We are thrilled to have Mr. Tripodi lead us in our next level of growth and expansion.”

At the time of his appointment as Chief Executive Officer at Calyxt, Tripodi had said: “Gene editing holds the promise to go well beyond revolutionizing the Ag. biotech space by bringing consumer- and health-focused innovation to food crops in a way that was simply not previously possible. Calyxt’s TALEN® gene-editing technology has emerged as a powerful tool in the crop development space and presents significant potential to improve the quality of our food while also meeting the challenges that are related to sustainable growth and climate change. Joining the team will enable me to lead an innovative organization that will contribute to close the gap currently exiting between Ag. biotech and consumer food innovation while building on the philosophy that has allowed Calyxt to become one of the most innovative and dynamic companies in the agricultural biotech industry to date.”

At the time of Tripodi’s appointment as Chief Executive Officer at Calyxt, Dan Voytas, then Chief Science Officer of Calyxt, had said: “Federico’s executive leadership experience, success in agricultural innovation and commercialization as well as deep industry knowledge make him the right choice to lead Calyxt in achieving our goals for 2016 and beyond. We pride ourselves on bringing a talented leader on board.”

Unplanned

As a general rule, when a top leader announces to step down with no permanent successor in place, it’s a sign that the change was unexpected and too early.

Push-out Score suggests push-out forces

It is not completely certain what forces eventually triggered Federico Tripodi’s sudden move.

The Push-out Score™ determined by exechange suggests that push-out forces may have contributed to the change.

Read the full story in the exechange report 35.2018 ($).