James Truchard, “Dr. T”, co-founder and CEO of National Instruments has announced his retirement effective January 1, 2017. This is no surprise. The company has transitioned from a small, hungry, engineering-driven company to a large corporation during the past 5–7 years. It appeared during NI Week 2015 that a transition was imminent. Also no surprise is his replacement, and the person I perceive as the architect of the new NI, Alex Davern, who has been COO/CFO.
Dr. Truchard will remain as Chairman of the Board. The Board of Directors plans to appoint Mr. Davern to the Board by the end of January 2017. This transition is being undertaken as part of the Board’s succession planning process.
“It has always been my goal for NI to be a company built to last,” said Truchard. “Over the last decade, in the face of a weak industrial economy I have focused my efforts on helping to ensure that we were making the long-term strategic investments necessary to set NI up for future growth. I believe these major platform investments, in key areas like PXI modular instrumentation, RF measurements, CompactRIO, and our entire software platform, will continue providing NI with disruptive platform capabilities needed to expand our long-term market opportunity. Given our significant progress, much of which was showcased at NIWeek earlier this month, I believe NI is well-positioned for the coming decade.”
Truchard continues, “It is the right time for me to retire as CEO. I have worked with Alex Davern for more than 20 years. He is an exceptional leader and business strategist, with a demonstrated track record of success. I have complete confidence in Alex and the rest of the senior leadership team at NI to continue delivering on our consistent track record of innovation, growth and profitability.”
“As a company built to last, Dr. Truchard has built an extremely capable senior leadership team over the years, and I am honored and excited to lead NI into its next phase of growth and profitability,” said Davern. “Our differentiated platform and ecosystem coupled with our strong business model, give us the opportunity to be the preeminent company in test, measurement and control.” Davern has served as Chief Operating Officer of NI since 2010, and Chief Financial Officer since 1997. Davern, and the rest of the senior management team, including Jeff Kodosky, co-founder, Fellow, and Board member of NI; Eric Starkloff, Executive VP of Global Sales and Marketing; Scott Rust, Senior VP of R&D; and Duncan Hudson, Chief Platform Officer, have over 100 years of experience at NI, working closely with Dr. Truchard.
“Countless entrepreneurs have great ideas and start companies, but very few have accomplished what Jim has – from moonlighting out of our garage and kitchen in 1976, to self-funding the business, to a successful IPO in 1995, to the $1B+ revenue company we are today with over 7,000 employees around the globe,” said Jeff Kodosky, NI co-founder, Fellow and Board member. “But more than just financial success for the company, what truly stands out is the impact that Jim and NI have had on engineering and science over these last four decades. The innovation he has enabled across so many industries inspires me to this day. I look forward to his ongoing contributions as Chairman.”
In light of Mr. Davern’s promotion, the company will start the process of considering candidates to serve as Chief Financial Officer and expects to complete the process by the end of 2016.
I had the pleasure of chatting with Dr. T a little every year at NI Week. He impressed me with his immense curiosity and humbleness. He’s a fantastic leader. I feel a sense of loss at the way NI used to be, but it is positioned to survive long term as an engineering leader. I missed this year’s NI Week. Judging from the announcements, the company’s direction and mine have diverged. But it is still a company to watch.
And all the best to Dr. T in his retirement.