Sensor maker Velodyne removes founder from chairman post following investigation

Sensor maker Velodyne Lidar Inc. said on Monday it had removed founder David Hall as chairman and his wife Marta Thoma Hall as marketing chief following an investigation into their dealings with the board and company practices.

“The investigation concluded that Mr. Hall and Ms. Hall each behaved inappropriately with regard to board and company processes, and failed to operate with respect, honesty, integrity, and candor in their dealings with company officers and directors,” the company said in a statement.

A Velodyne spokesperson declined to provide further details, while Reuters could not immediately reach the Halls for comment.

The company said it had directed both of them to receive appropriate remedial training, while they continue to be on the board. Velodyne’s shares fell 7.3% to $19.58 in midday trading in New York.

The company named Joseph Culkin, who has been a board member since 2016, as chairman, effective immediately, while communications head Sally Frykman took over as chief marketing officer.

David Hall is the company’s largest shareholder with a 35.43% stake as of Feb. 12, according to Refinitiv IBES data, while Thoma Hall owns a 3.74% stake.

Earlier this month, Ford Motor Co. dissolved its 7.6% stake in the company, which went public in September following a merger with a special purpose acquisition company.

Velodyne is one of several companies vying to supply automakers with lidar, a sensor that generates a three-dimensional map of the road ahead.

Velodyne said on Monday it had also received a notice from David and Marta Thoma Hall of their intent as stockholders to nominate one candidate for a seat on the board.

The Halls plan to compensate their proposed director nominee, Eric Singer, in cash, according to the company. Velodyne said it has concerns regarding the compensation arrangement.

Last week, James Graf, the CEO of Graf Industrial Corp., the SPAC that took Velodyne public, stepped down from Velodyne’s board. Graf’s decision to resign was not due to any disagreement with the company, Velodyne had said in a filing.

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