Atara CEO Isaac Ciechanover leaves

  • Push-out Score determined
  • After about six and a half years in the position
  • Praise and thanks for Ciechanover
  • Search for a successor
  • Ciechanover said 68 words

(exechange) — South San Francisco, California, January 3, 2019 — Isaac Ciechanover, chief executive of Atara, leaves. As announced by Atara Biotherapeutics Inc. in a news release and in a regulatory filing published on Thursday, January 3, 2019, Isaac E. Ciechanover leaves his post as Chief Executive Officer at the immunotherapy company after about six and a half years in the role.

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 8.9 years, according to data compiled by exechange.

Ciechanover will remain in his role as President and CEO until the earlier of the appointment of his successor or June 30, 2019.

Atara will undertake a search for a successor.

No reason given

In the announcement, Atara did not explicitly explain the reason for Isaac Ciechanover’s move, leaving room for speculation.

Precise information regarding Isaac Ciechanover’s future plans was not immediately available.

“Step down”

Atara said: “Isaac Ciechanover, M.D., plans to step down as the Company’s President and Chief Executive Officer.”

Atara further said: “On January 2, 2019, Isaac Ciechanover notified the Board of Directors … of Atara Biotherapeutics, Inc. … of his decision to step down as the Company’s President and Chief Executive Officer, effective as of the earlier of (i) June 30, 2019, or (ii) the date of his successor’s appointment (the “Separation Date”). During the period prior to the Separation Date, Dr. Ciechanover will remain as President and Chief Executive Officer and a member of the Board.”

Share price decline

The change follows a decline in Atara Biotherapeutics, Inc.’s share price of 31 percent since May 2018.

In the position of CEO since 2012

Isaac E. Ciechanover has served as the Company’s President and Chief Executive Officer and a member of the Board since the Company’s founding in August 2012.

From April 2010 to November 2012, Ciechanover was a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, a venture capital firm, where he primarily focused on life sciences investing.

From 2004 to March 2010, he served in various capacities at Celgene Corporation, a biopharmaceutical company, most recently as Executive Director for Business Development.

Ciechanover has also held business development and venture capital roles at pharmaceutical companies Amylin Pharmaceuticals and Pfizer and venture capital firm Pequot Ventures.

Ciechanover received a B.A. from Stanford University, an M.Phil. in Epidemiology from Cambridge University, an M.D. from Weill Cornell Medical College and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.


Generally speaking, when a top manager announces to step down with no successor in place, it is a signal that the move was unplanned and too early.

Push-out Score determined

The Push-out Score™ determined by exechange gauges the likelihood that a manager was pushed out or felt pressure to leave the position.

exechange reached out to Atara and offered the company the opportunity to comment on the score.

Read the full story in the exechange report 1.2019 ($).