Velodyne, a leading manufacturer of lidar laser sensors, announced that CEO Anand Gopalan would resign. The news comes as the sensor company has been entangled in a bitter war between founder David Hall and the company’s board of directors.
Gopalan, who previously served as Velodyne’s chief technology officer before taking over from Hall in January 2020, will resign as both CEO and board member as of July 30, the company said.
But instead of naming a replacement company, Velodyne sets up a so-called The CEO’s office, which consists of several members of the company’s management team, including Chief Operating Officer Jim Barnhart, Chief Financial Officer Drew Hamer, Chief Human Resources Officer Kathy McBeath, and Commercial Director Sinclair Vass. However, the transition may be temporary, as the government will also retain the lead search company to find a replacement for Gopalan.
In recent months, Velodyne has been a company at war with itself. In April, the government collapsed Hall as Chairman of the Board and his wife Marta Thoma Hall as Director of Marketing, citing the inappropriate behavior of the couple. Marta Hall is still a member of Velodyne’s board, while David Hall resigned on March 2.
Next month David Hall demanded his resignation of two board members appointed by the company’s SPAC, whom he blames on Velodyne’s “poor financial performance”. He accused the government of financial misconduct, including paying Gopalan compensation “despite the company knowing the company would lose its 2020 projections”. And he claimed that he and his wife were ousted from their position because of “frivolous demands.”
Hall has long been respected in the world of autonomous vehicle technology as a pioneer in the use of laser sensors so that AV devices can “see” the world around them. Lidar, which means “detecting light and measuring distance,” uses thousands of laser beams to detect objects and measure distance. A conical or cylindrical sensor placed on the roof of the vehicle has become synonymous with self-driving cars.
In June 2020, Velodyne entered into an agreement with Special Industrial Procurement Company (SPAC) Graf Industrial Corp. with a market capitalization of $ 1.8 billion. It was part of a wave of companies in the transport engineering sector that decided to become public through SPAC and thus avoid the controls followed by a much more traditional IPO.
But Velodyne argues that its financial outlook remains “unchanged” despite Gopalan’s resignation. The company, which estimates revenue for 2021 to be $ 77-94 million, will report its second-quarter results on Aug. 5.