In what has become a common theme in the Canadian hardware space this year, yet another founder has swapped their CEO position for a new role within the company they began. First Bubl, then Nymi, and now InteraXon, as Ariel Garten has been replaced as company CEO by Derek Luke.
Luke, formerly InteraXon’s COO, sent a newsletter out to his LinkedIn contacts today stating that “this will be my first CES as Chief Executive Officer at Interaxon.” A quick check of Luke’s LinkedIn confirms the switch.
The announcement was certainly news to BetaKit. As recently as October of this year, we noted Garten as CEO of InteraXon during her appearance on BNN’s The Disruptors (BetaKit is a production partner on the show). At the time, co-host Amber Kanwar questioned whether the company’s Muse headband could become more than a novelty, but InteraXon has achieved some major milestones, securing partnerships with Best Buy and achieving $3.5 million in sales in its first few months on the market. Garten also stated on the show that the average active Muse user uses the device 5.8 times per week.
According to Garten’s LinkedIn, the founder took on a Board Chairman role in November of this year. InteraXon’s website notes that she is now the company’s Chief Evangelist Officer.
BetaKit has reached out to both Garten and Luke for comment on the changing roles, and what it means for InteraXon’s future.
Update (3:30pm 12/21/15): Garten has gotten back to BetaKit, letting us know that she’s pregnant (congrats!). Stay tuned for additional information from Garten on her role with InteraXon.
Update (3:52pm 12/21/15): New InteraXon CEO Derek Luke has gotten back to us with the below statement, which seems to indicate that Garten will not return as CEO post-pregnancy. We’re following up now for clarification.
“Thank you for reaching out. When I joined Interaxon as COO in December 2013 I had no expectations of becoming CEO. However, Ariel was clear that when the “time was right” she would step down from being CEO.
“I remember asking about what that meant. For her it was having a successor that not only shared her product vision but embraced her views on company culture, values and mindfulness practices. Ariel knew she needed someone with my experience but did not just want a traditional “corporate mindset” leading Interaxon. She also casually added that she wanted to start a family at some point.
“Ariel is now nearly five months pregnant and endorsed me assuming the CEO position. I have learned a lot from Ariel over the last two years and I graduated as her apprentice.
“Our culture is both unique and high performing. Ariel and I have worked closely to built something very special together in terms of product and company culture. We have developed both strong trust and friendship. We will continue our partnership with me as CEO and Ariel evangelizing Muse in addition to her role as Chair of the Board. I was very humbled when Ariel and the Board asked me to step up to the position of CEO.”