Bailey Fisher Executive Search is pleased to have assisted GeoSpock with the search for a CEO, resulting in the appointment of Richard Baker.
Founder, Dr Steve Marsh, who has led the company from inception and built a world-class computer science team, will transition to the role of Chief Technology Officer (CTO). Steve will remain on the Board and will continue to lead research, development, and engineering and will provide strategic guidance for the company.
Richard brings extensive blue chip and start-up experience combined with proven leadership having held commercial senior executive and board roles in telecoms, technology, media, and financial services companies. Most recently, Richard was the co-founder and CEO of Cleartrade Exchange (CLTX), a fintech commodity futures exchange headquartered in Singapore, that was sold to the European Energy Exchange, part of Deutsche Börse Group, in 2016.
Steve Churchhouse, Chairman of GeoSpock said “Bailey Fisher supported our recent search for a new CEO for GeoSpock, a Cambridge start-up offering real-time extreme scale database and analytics solutions. We were seeking a commercially focused CEO with eBusiness track record to complement the skills of our tech founder. Bailey Fisher conducted a highly professional search, surfacing excellent candidates in a sellers’ market. Throughout the process I felt very well supported personally by Paul Bailey and I’m confident that we have hired one of the best candidates available.”
“We are delighted to welcome Richard to the company. We are confident that his leadership style and commercial experience will be invaluable assets to GeoSpock. Richard brings an interesting mix of strategic thinking, practical hands-on management experience and a firm handle on what is needed to scale commercial growth, driving adoption of GeoSpock technologies. I am very grateful to Steve for all he has done to lead GeoSpock, and equally pleased that Steve will be remaining on the Board as CTO.”
Steve Marsh, CTO commented: “It is a pleasure to welcome Richard to GeoSpock. I am looking forward to working closely with him and am excited about the next phase of the GeoSpock journey, as we strive to create a fun and intellectually engaging environment and attract the best talent to help the company grow. Our executive team now has the right blend of commercial, strategic, and technical leadership to reach its ambitions. This is an amazing time for the company.”
Richard Baker, CEO said: “I am incredibly impressed with what Dr Marsh has achieved to date and I am looking forward to working with Steve and his team to take the GeoSpock analytics technology to customers around the world. We live in a very dynamic and hyper-connected world. The data-driven economy is shaping many aspects of our daily lives from location-aware mobile advertising and interactive media services, through to hyper-connected Smart Cities. The ability to make real-time, action-orientated, insightful decisions in this new world will be the critical differentiator for many companies in the future. GeoSpock is at the heart of this exciting market transformation.”
Following nine years of successful Women 4 Technology events in Cambridge and London, Bailey Fisher Executive Search is delighted to announce the launch of Women 4 Technology Manchester, in partnership with Mills & Reeve. The event is supported by Cambridge Wireless, Deloitte and Eagle Labs.
The topic is Looking for funding? and the guest speakers are: Nicola Broughton, Investment Director at Mercia Technologies; Jenny Tooth OBE, CEO of the UK Business Angels Association; and Ann Fisher, Founder of Women 4 Technology and Co-founder of Bailey Fisher Executive Search.
Nicola Broughton is Investment Director at Mercia Technologies, leading a team of university specialists covering Mercia’s 19 partnerships. The team are actively sourcing new university spinouts across all of Mercia’s sectors at the early stage, as well as being responsible for managing a portfolio of spin-out companies. Nicola has a wealth of experience in both life sciences and university commercialisation, having founded her own IP commercialisation company working as a transfer and licensing advisor to many universities across the UK. She also spent 10 years as a commercial director for a University of Leeds spin-out. Nicola holds a PhD in Biochemistry from the Imperial Cancer Research Fund and King’s College London. She also holds an MBA from the University of Northumbria at Newcastle, a BA in Biochemistry from the University of Oxford, and a Diploma in Law from the National Association of Paralegals.
Jenny Tooth OBE is CEO of the UKBAA, the trade body for angel and early stage investing, representing over 15,000 investors around the UK. Jenny has over 20 years’ experience of facilitating SMEs access to investment, in the UK and internationally. She ran her own consultancy on access to finance for SMEs, including spending nine years based in Brussels, working closely with the EC. In 2009, Jenny co-founded Angel Capital Group which incorporates London Business Angels, one of the most established and active angel networks in the UK. Jenny is an angel investor and in her role at UKBAA she focuses on building the angel community around the UK, connecting investors to good deal flow and assisting entrepreneurs to attract investors. Jenny sits on the steering group for emerging technologies and innovations for Innovate UK and the advisory board for the London Co-Investment Fund. Jenny is an experienced speaker on angel investing and entrepreneurship both in the UK and internationally. She has an MSc in Economics from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Jenny was awarded an OBE in 2015 for services to small businesses.
Ann Fisher co-founded Bailey Fisher Executive Search in 1998, a boutique search firm with offices in Cambridge and London, operating globally to identify impactful talent across technology, life sciences, digital health and private markets. Bailey Fisher thrives in one of the most exciting technology clusters outside Silicon Valley, and has contributed to the success of some of the most impressive companies to have emerged from the UK market in recent years. Bailey Fisher is always conscious of the impact that the management team has on the future growth of their clients’ businesses. Ann is also the founder of Women 4 Technology, a business forum for 1,200 international female entrepreneurs, CEOs, CXOs, Chair/NEDs and investors. The events have featured in WIRED Magazine’s roundup of top technology events, Huffington Post and the Guardian. Ann is passionate about enabling the next generation of entrepreneurs, having founded her first business aged 27, which she built to a successful exit within 5 years. The acquiring company is continuously featured in The Sunday Times Top 100 companies. Ann supports Girl Talk, a University of Cambridge platform providing career events for female students and hosts events through Bailey Fisher for first time CEOs and identifying the next generation of talent.
Attendance at this event is for women and men in commercial leadership roles within technology, digital health and life sciences.
Employee share schemes can be an excellent way for start-ups and SMEs to attract, incentivise and gain the loyalty of key employees. At Bailey Fisher’s latest CEO Dinner, discussion focused on how this kind of incentive can align your goals with that of the essential members of your team.
The guest speakers were serial technology entrepreneur and adviser Richard Baker; and Neil Pearson, Partner at Mills & Reeve, specialising in advising on all forms of employee incentives. The dinner was hosted in partnership with Mills & Reeve and Grant Thornton.
Key points emerging from discussion:
1. Options are worth doing. They do work to incentivise employees. But only if the option plan is well thought through.
2. It’s never too early to get the stock options policy in place. Starting to use options sooner rather than later will embed them into the culture of your
business (and maximise tax efficiency).
3. When introducing options, it is key to understand the motivation behind granting them, which might be any one or more of the following:
- Encouraging loyalty
- Driving towards exit
- Creating a sense of ownership and responsibility amongst the workforce (the “John Lewis model”)
4. It is also key, even at an early stage, to think about how the options would play out on exit, and what that exit might look like. This triggered lively
discussion as to:
- Whether vesting arrangements should be introduced and if so, over what period should this be – industry practice seems to have moved from 3 years to 4 years vesting.
- When to allow options to vest on a takeover or IPO and, if so, what proportion of options should be vested.
- Whether to “roll over” options into the buyer, on an exit, to encourage the option holders to stay in the business post-acquisition.
- How best to apply performance conditions in the context of an exit.
- How to treat option holders who leave before an exit.
- When and how option holders might be offered any form of liquidity in the option shares – if option holders felt they could never realise their option shares for cash, the options may cease to incentivise employees.
5. Many founders who attract angel investment tend to suffer too much dilution by the time they hit a significant Series A round. It is important to optimise
runway and try and avoid significant dilution. Most VCs would like to see a founder still owning 30-40% of the business by the time they hit Series A.
6. Growth shares are becoming more popular and can be used to bridge the gap between the dilutive effect of options and the need to keep managers incentivised. The estimate was that as much as 50% of new raises are including growth shares. Growth shares were defined as simply the grant of ordinary shares to founders, priced slightly “out of” a current round price that are linked to growth performance of the company. Investors are more willing to incentivise the founding team with growth shares rather that enlarging the stock options policy. Stock Option Policies seemed to have a natural ceiling at 15-20% of share capital.
7. Founders shouldn’t feel that stock options pricing needs to follow share price through investment round stages. An EIS approved stock options policy should try to retain nominal share price of £0.01p until the point of break-even and early profits. The UK HMRC will approve the majority of options policies
through to this point in time. This retains real upside value for founders and employees.
8. Innovation in private capital markets with the arrival of secondary market exchanges such as AssetMatch generates interesting opportunities for private limited companies to sell small percentages via these platforms. Joining such liquidity venues requires changes to the Company’s Articles of Association and will most likely need shareholder board approval but generating liquidity events for private companies has a number of benefits for founder and early seed investors. Shares can change hands, it establishes an enterprise value or market value for the company earlier in the development cycle than just waiting for the next investment round or indeed the trade sales. Additionally, it generates liquidity events for the stock options plan.
9. For some businesses, particularly quoted companies, using options to incentivise Non-Executive Directors was regarded as inappropriate. NEDs are intended to act as an independent “watchdog” and this independence may be compromised by the share incentives.
It was encouraging to hear that talent in Cambridge is being attracted by realistic salaries and attractive options but also continues to be attracted by the opportunity to work with great people and on engaging projects.
CEOs attending commented on the “specific actionable insight” gained from the discussion, with the CEO of a VC backed company saying “A very important point for me was how to set the option price. Previously, ‘last investment round price’ has been pushed upon me but that isn’t necessarily the way to go. This will be very useful for me when discussing these matters with our Remuneration Committee.”