Melinta Therapeutics CEO Dan Wechsler leaves abruptly

  • Push-out Score suggests push-out forces
  • After less than one year in the position
  • Thanks and good wishes for Wechsler
  • John Johnson taking over in the interim

(exechange) — New Haven, Connecticut, October 22, 2018 — Dan Wechsler, chief executive of Melinta Therapeutics, leaves. It is an abrupt change. As announced by Melinta Therapeutics, Inc. in a news release on Monday, October 22, 2018, Daniel Mark (Dan) Wechsler leaves his post as Chief Executive Officer at the biopharmaceutical firm after less than one year in the role, effective immediately.

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

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 9.1 years, according to data compiled by exechange. Only 5 percent of the CEOs who departed over the past 12 months left the position within their first year. Around 11 percent left the position within two years, and 20 percent left the position within three years.

Dan Wechsler’s duties will be taken over in the interim by John H. Johnson, a former chief executive officer of Dendreon Corporation, as interim chief executive officer.

Already a director

Johnson is already a director of Melinta Therapeutics. 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, Johnson understands the expectations and dynamics of the board and has knowledge of Melinta Therapeutics’s organization, risk-management practices and strategy.

“To pursue other opportunities”

Dan Wechsler’s sudden departure from the CEO post is explained as follows. Melinta Therapeutics said: “Mr. Johnson, a director of Melinta, succeeds Dan Wechsler, who is stepping down from his role as president, CEO and director to pursue other opportunities. The Board and Mr. Wechsler mutually agreed that now is the right time to transition leadership of the Company.”

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

Precise information about Dan Wechsler’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 an understandable explanation.

Share price decline

The change follows a decline in the share price of Melinta Therapeutics, Inc. since January 2018.

Chaired by Kevin Ferro

Melinta Therapeutics, Inc. is chaired by Kevin Ferro.

Ferro has served as a member of Melinta’s board of directors since November 2012. He has served as the chief executive officer, chief investment officer and managing member of Vatera Holdings LLC, the manager of Vatera Healthcare Partners LLC, since April 2007.

In the position of CEO since 2017

Daniel Mark Wechsler has been the Chief Executive Officer, President and Director of Melinta Therapeutics, Inc. since November 6, 2017.

Wechsler has served as President and CEO of Melinta since November 2017 and on the Company’s board of directors since that time.

He was an operating partner of Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe from October 2016 until November 2017.

Prior to that, Wechsler served as president and CEO of Smile Brands, Inc. from March 2014 until the company’s sale in 2016, and as executive vice president and global president of pharmaceuticals at Bausch + Lomb Incorporated from 2011 to 2013.

Wechsler started his career at The Upjohn Company and thereafter worked at Pharmacia Corporation, where he helped launch Zyvox, until the company’s acquisition by Pfizer, Inc. in 2003.

Wechsler served as vice president of sales specialty at Pfizer, Inc. from 2003 to 2005, SVP of global operations at Schering-Plough Corporation from 2005 to 2009 and SVP of strategy and commercial model excellence at Merck & Co. from 2009 to 2011.

Wechsler holds a master’s degree from the University of Rochester and a bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York at Brockport.

At the time of Dan Wechsler’s appointment as Chief Executive Officer at Melinta Therapeutics, Thomas Koestler, then chairman of the board of directors of Melinta, had said: “We are delighted to welcome Dan Wechsler as CEO of the combined company. Dan’s deep antibiotics knowledge and extensive commercial and operational experience will be invaluable to the successful launch of Baxdela and the continued progression the company’s market-leading anti-infective pipeline of assets.”

At the time of his appointment as Chief Executive Officer at Melinta Therapeutics, Wechsler had said: “I am thrilled to join Melinta at this exciting time in its transformation into a commercial-stage organization. The combined company will have an exceptional platform of innovative assets, including commercial, clinical and preclinical stage anti-infective programs geared to meet major unmet medical needs in the treatment of serious infections. I look forward to working with the members of the board, the management team, and all of the employees of the company to serve patients, create shareholder value and contribute to the future success of Melinta.”


Generally speaking, when a top manager announces to step aside with no permanent successor available, it’s a signal that the change was unplanned and too early.

Push-out Score suggests push-out forces

It is not completely certain what forces eventually triggered Dan Wechsler’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 44.2018 ($).