Breaking: Tony Norman has Resigned as President and CEO of IFI

FUN was forwarded this email from a credible source and upon follow up was confirmed and was provided permission to post:

From: Tony Norman
Date: Wed, Nov 23, 2022 at 1:49 PM

I want to provide an update to everyone. As you may have seen online, there are rumors and allegations surrounding my character, and the perceived impacts it may have had on the culture here at IFI. As an engineer, entrepreneur, son, and father, I am so sorry if any of my actions were hurtful. So out of respect to all employees here, I have made the decision to resign my position as President and CEO of Innovation First International.

Immediately, the company will begin a search for a new CEO which should be completed by the end of the year. Please know the search will focus on identifying a respected and talented STEM leader who will continue to guide the team through the company’s growth. Specifically, this executive will have a proven record of managing change, especially in the areas of corporate culture and effective governance. The future CEO will also continue our commitment to create and produce excellent products and services for our customers.

Other ongoing changes in the executive team is the search for a new CFO. We currently have several talented recruits, and a choice will be made by the end of the year.

While change can be difficult for some, I am hopeful these changes will bring optimism, excitement, and pride for the work ahead. The continued success of the company will directly be attributable to all of you who have dedicated your career and your personal passion to the mission.

Regards,
Tony Norman

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Good first step. But this doesn’t mean the problems are solved.

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I am totally skeptical, if not a bit worried, that IFI leadership believe they could fill both a CEO and CFO position before the end of the year (5ish weeks minus holidays) especially if they intend to look outside the organization to bring in real culture change.

The external executive search firms that are usually engaged in these processes can often take 6-12 months to find the right fit. I would have expected an interim leader to have been named in the meantime.

Good luck, I guess!

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Will be interesting to see if Tony intends to keep his ownership stake.

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Does he still own the majority of the company?

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It is a great first step. The new CEO will figure out what they want to do and how to implement it.

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This is a good first step, but it is by no means over.

As Chuck Glick put it in his letter,

Tony Norman is still 50% owner of IFI.

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This is good. But it’s not good enough. Tony needs to sell his majority stake in IFI, and until that happens, this is not over.

As a private company, IFI’s majority stakeholder still gets to have final say on all of the decisions. Tony stepping down as CEO might as well be a symbolic move as long as he still owns the majority of the company.

Don’t let this PR-first move placate you. We won’t be happy until IFI is cleansed of Tony’s influence.

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If rumors are true, the intention is to take IFI public. Tony is still positioned to make a mint regardless of what position he has with the company.

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Yeah, but if he makes mint in a way that removes his ownership stake in the company then the company is free to actually move past him.

It’s not about Mr. Norman’s money. It’s about his position of power/influence over this community.

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Selling his 51% will take some time. Face it, it’s a speciality robotics company / rack manufacturer. You just don’t throw it up on EBay and let it ride.

This is is a beginning step. They have a timeline to get a new CEO in by the end of the year (40 days away). This is a win, this could have gone a number of ways that won’t make anyone happy.

(And the vex forum is still down, so that ends the “we took it down to hide” part of this)

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This is the first I’ve heard of that rumour. It’s very possible that they’re looking into an IPO, but I really don’t see that going through right now. An IPO only works if people want to buy ownership shares in the company. Would you want to buy ownership shares in a company with all these allegations swirling around it?

If Tony does reduce his ownership share, it would probably be by selling part or all of it to other private individuals.

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Yeah that’s true. I just wanted to give some perspective. A huge win for sure, but we’re not done here.

This is another big part - the problem was also with executives at the company beyond the CEO. I’m glad they’re going in the right direction, but they’ll have to earn their trust back.

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Emphasis mine. This implies the CFO search is already underway and they have candidates / are interviewing. They intend to fill the CFO role before the year is up. I don’t think this is saying a new CEO will be selected in 4 weeks.

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Not sure if the CFO search is related to the recent movement against IFI’s practices. I found a name for CFO, Warren Weeks, but nothing else. Not even a linkedin page. Not sure if they even had a CFO in recent times or when their previous CFO left.

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Money IS control. Money IS influence.

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A 51% stake in IFI is not the same as an index fund investment worth the same amount.

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not sure anyone is arguing that, but that’s what an IPO would do. It would turn his 51% into cash. a LOT if it.

Yes, and I think a lot of people think that a Tony Norman with some more cash is a preferable state of affairs to a Tony Norman who owns IFI.

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