Lightspeed founder Dax Dasilva returns as interim CEO, replacing JP Chauvet

Lightspeed Commerce founder and CEO Dax Dasilva
Lightspeed Commerce founder and CEO Dax Dasilva.
Despite recently beating its fiscal Q3 targets, Lightspeed’s shares have still fallen.

Two years after stepping down, Lightspeed Commerce founder Dax Dasilva is now back at the firm’s helm as interim CEO after investors expressed disappointment with the company’s latest earnings.

Effective immediately, Lightspeed’s board has appointed Dasilva to replace his former successor and longtime Lightspeed executive, Jean Paul (JP) Chauvet, who has stepped down, according to the commerce technology company. “I thank [Chauvet] for his contributions, service, and leadership at Lightspeed over the past 11 years,” Dasilva, who most recently served as executive chair, said in a statement.

“I thank [Chauvet] for his contributions, service, and leadership at Lightspeed over the past 11 years.”

Dax Dasilva, Lightspeed

“This was a mutual decision that was made between the board, [Chauvet], and myself recognizing that we are now in a new phase for the company where we are prioritizing long-term profitable growth and requires different leadership,” Dasilva told BetaKit.

In addition to this CEO swap, Lightspeed made some other changes to its management and board leadership.

Lightspeed senior vice president of retail technology John Shapiro has been promoted to the role of chief product and technology officer, replacing Ryan Tabone, who is departing in April for personal reasons. Additionally, Patrick Pichette, currently Lightspeed’s lead independent director, is becoming interim chair of the company’s board, replacing Dasilva.

This leadership shakeup comes a week after Lightspeed posted its fiscal third-quarter 2024 financial results, which despite surpassing the firm’s prior revenue and loss-cutting forecasts, failed to impress investors as the company’s stock has lost as much as 30 percent of its value since then.

But investors have responded positively to Dasilva’s return and these other changes: Lightspeed’s shares closed the day up more than seven percent on the Toronto and New York Stock Exchanges since both markets opened this morning.

RELATED: Lightspeed exceeds fiscal Q3 revenue, profitability targets but company’s shares still slide

“[Dasilva’s] exceptional track record as the founder of this company speaks volumes about his visionary leadership and dedication to success over the years,” Pichette said in a statement. “Under his guidance, we have witnessed remarkable growth and innovation, propelling Lightspeed to the category leader it is today. I am confident that he will continue to steer Lightspeed towards new heights of success.”

Founded in 2005, Lightspeed provides commerce and point-of-sale software to restaurants, retailers, and hospitality providers. The firm’s stock has fallen more than 85 percent from its COVID-19 pandemic high in September 2021 amid the broader tech downturn, a drop fuelled at least in part by a short-seller report critical of some of Lightspeed’s metrics.

Dasilva previously served as Lightspeed’s CEO from the company’s inception until early 2022, when Chauvet, the firm’s president and Dasilva’s longtime second-in-command, took over.

Since Chauvet became CEO, the company has overhauled its C-suite, converting its slew of acquisitions into new flagship products, shed 10 percent of its workforce, and set its sights on profitability and nabbing bigger customers as it looks to win back investors and some of its lost stock value. Dasilva has pursued other interests in the meantime, including supporting conservation efforts and diversity initiatives, while remaining connected with Lightspeed.

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“As founder, I have so much love and passion for Lightspeed, and for the past two years have still been very involved in the company as executive chair of the board,” said Dasilva.

With $240 million USD in total revenue (27 percent year-over-year growth) and its second consecutive quarter of positive earnings before income, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA), Lightspeed recently beat its own estimates for fiscal Q3. But investors were less than enthused by Lightspeed’s latest guidance and disciplined approach to growth.

This year, Lightspeed has vowed to focus on growing top-line revenue without sacrificing the progress it has made in becoming EBITDA positive, as the company aims to strike the right balance between revenue growth and profitability to woo investors.

Between growth and profitability, Chauvet said during the company’s earnings call last week that “the scale will tip towards growth” and teased that more mergers and acquisitions (M&A) may be in the cards for Lightspeed. Chauvet indicated that growth would be Lightspeed’s “top priority” in 2024, as the company looks to find the right balance between growth and profitability to satisfy investors.

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Dasilva indicated that “profitable growth” remains the goal. But with him back at the helm, M&A is “not a priority” for Lightspeed going forward, and the company may cut more costs in the near term as it considers “different opportunities for unlocking operational efficiencies.”

“My vision is to cultivate a business model that not only fosters growth but also prioritizes profitability and unlocks operational efficiencies to deliver ongoing value to our shareholders,” said Dasilva. “For Lightspeed to be a long-term profitable company, I will prioritize identifying cost-savings opportunities and driving these new efficiencies.”

M&A is “not a priority” going forward, and Lightspeed may cut more costs in the near term.

“The achievements of our last quarter serve as a testament to our potential, and we must continue to build upon this momentum,” argued Dasilva. “My vision is clear: cultivate a business model that fosters growth, prioritizes profitability and unlocks operational efficiencies to deliver ongoing value to our shareholders.”

Lightspeed’s shakeup marks just the latest in a wave of Canadian tech companies to make leadership changes at the top since the beginning of this year. This group includes firms like Alida, MindBridge, Top Hat, Unbounce, and Untether AI, among others.

The length of this interim period is undefined, and Dasilva could eventually become Lightspeed’s permanent CEO once more. For his part, Dasilva indicated that he intends to stick around as CEO for as long as he is needed.

Feature image courtesy Lightspeed Commerce.

Josh Scott

Josh Scott

Josh Scott is a BetaKit reporter focused on telling in-depth Canadian tech stories and breaking news. His coverage is more complete than his moustache. He was also the winner of SABEW Canada’s 2023 Jeff Sanford Best Young Journalist award.

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