Waldman quits Mellanox: I don't want to be number two

Eyal Waldman  / Photo: Jonathan Bloom , Globes
Eyal Waldman / Photo: Jonathan Bloom , Globes

Eyal Waldman, the cofounder, CEO and dominant figure at the Israeli big data connectivity company, is stepping down six months after its acquisition by Nvidia.

Mellanox Technologies Ltd. cofounder and CEO Eyal Waldman is leaving the company six months after Nvidia completed its acquisition. He has told employees that he will be leaving at the end of next week. Waldman has been the dominant figure at the company, which he has built over the past 20 years, and led to its $6.9 billion acquisition by Nvidia.

Waldman told "Globes" "When we closed the deal, I already knew that I was leaving. You build a company over 21 years and make all the decisions and you don't want to be number two."

He added, "I don't think it's a matter of ego. The difference between CEO and deputy CEO is further than people think. It's also not an easy change to suddenly be part of such a large company. After many years of very intensive and pressured work, the time has come to do other things."

Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang had expressed his hope in the past that Waldman would continue to lead Mellanox.

Mellanox, which was founded in 1999 by Waldman and several partners, develops big data connectivity chips for end-to-end high speed networking. Nvidia announced that it was buying Mellanox in March 2019 but the deal took 12 months to complete because of delayed approval by the Chinesae regulator. Waldman personally earned $240 million from the deal and his salary cost over the past decade has been an estimated $40 million. Between May and July, the first quarter in which Nvidia owned Mellanox, the company had revenue of $540 million.

In April, even though Waldman admitted that had the company remained independent, its value would have risen, he insisted that selling Mellanox was the right move.

Mellanox began trading on Nasdaq in 2007, when it had a market cap of $510 million. At the end of 2017, Mellanox found itself in a tussle with activist investor the Starboard fund, which demanded changes on the board of directors, and failed. Shortly afterwards, Mellanox received an acquisition offer, followed by a bidding war with seven suitors involved including Intel, Microsoft, and the eventual winner Nvidia.

Waldman is outspoken on political matters. He was critical of the proposed annexation of parts of the West Bank and has led efforts to find employment for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza in Israeli high-tech companies including Mellanox. He has also called for a government that is not tainted by corruption.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on November 4, 2020

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2020

Eyal Waldman  / Photo: Jonathan Bloom , Globes
Eyal Waldman / Photo: Jonathan Bloom , Globes
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