Tom Livne and Israeli captioning and transcription solutions company Verbit have been in the headlines in the past few days, since Livne, one of Verbit’s three founders and its CEO until recently, announced his intention of stepping down from his post.
In an exclusive interview with "Globes", his first since announcing that he would leave, Livne said the decision was his own. "I explained to the company’s board that stepping down from the CEO position was part of natural evolution," he said, "My relations with the Verbit board are excellent. I am chairperson of the board, and we all work together." He said that he intended to find a replacement as CEO by the end of this year.
Within twenty-four hours, the reaction began to come. First of all, Verbit issued a press release on the appointment of Yair Amsterdam as its new CEO. Amsterdam had been CTO at Verbit since 2022. The press release also stated that Livne would become chairperson of the board of directors, but, contrary to what he had said, that he would have no executive role. Livne is now described on Verbit's website as "founder and chairman emeritus".
The board’s decision on the hasty appointment, which contrasts with the long process that Livne talked about, illustrates the gap between his narrative and the company’s actions.
In his interview with "Globes", Livne said that Verbit was and remained a strong company. "We have $100 million cash and another $50 million in credit lines, we have funding proposals from private equity funds, and we have a growing legal transcription arm," he said, adding that he would remain as "the spiritual father" of the company, and that the new CEO would be working for him. He explained that besides his work at Verbit, his timetable was full. "I invest in companies, I’m the chairperson of companies, and I engage in philanthropy," he said.
It seems that the feeling at the company is quite different. Sources there said, "He’s a good entrepreneur, and that can’t be taken away form him, but it’s a pity he got confused." They explained Verbit’s announcement by the fact that "after the things he said, it was clear that he could not stay at the company." In relation to some of his statements in the interview, the sources said, "It’s not clear how someone could talk like that, and in wartime, when people out there are fighting for their lives."
Further evidence that the board’s decision was a hasty response to Livne’s conduct is the fact that the announcement of the appointment of the new CEO was released even before the company’s employees had been informed, according to sources at the company.
In an email message to Verbit’s employees that Livne sent last week, he wrote, "As a very substantial shareholder, this is not the end of the road for me at Verbit. Even if a worthy candidate is found to replace me as CEO of the company, I shall remain involved as its chairperson." According to sources close to the company, however, Livne is not its main shareholder, although "he may have been so when it started out."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on February 7, 2024.
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