My colleague Peter Smith reported earlier today that CEO Luke McKeever is out at OB10/Tungsten. I’ve known Luke since just after he started at OB10, inheriting at that point an unprofitable second-fiddle (based on global market share) supplier network and e-invoicing provider. In my view, Luke did an exceptional job in righting the OB10 ship and steaming ahead with continued revenue growth with their older business line.
At the same time, Luke also introduced a new business strategy of his design (including managing a complex board structure) and then joined forces with Tungsten in an IPO and combination that many people thought was crazy before the listing was oversubscribed. It was a juggling act like no other – and I don’t say this lightly – with so many moving parts as to make a person dizzy.
Some might look at Luke’s departure with trepidation for OB10/Tungsten, but I personally see it as (hopefully) giving an executive who quietly pulled off an exceptional series of activities (without thumping his chest about it) some much deserved time off. Moreover, from an OB10/Tungsten standpoint, it is quite clear that a new banking orientation and perspective is ruling the day, and I suspect we’ll see Luke resurface in likely a related but different market and do the exact same thing again (as he had done before, mind you).
Where does this leave OB10/Tungsten?
Here’s what Peter has to say about the topic:
The announcement suggests there is no direct replacement but it looks like OB10 is now part of the overall group structure, with Ed Truell as MD. And Lincoln Jopp has been appointed Group Chief Operating Officer. He’s a 20-year, decorated career soldier (googling him throws up some interesting and scary stories), who left the Army after rising to Lt Colonel level. That’s an interesting step, from the front line to the Board of a not insignificant company in a totally non-military market. We look forward to meeting him. The other announcement from the firm today is that they have discounted their first invoice – so progress is being made on that front.
I personally believe OB10/Tungsten is well positioned for a variety of reasons and will do just fine, but their biggest threat in the invoice discounting space could be lurking just a few miles away in London (not in Waldorf or San Francisco). This quiet, rival vendor is also focused on the UK market for trade financing. But more important for today, we wish Luke and the rest of the OB10/Tungsten team all the best in the transition. Luke’s work should be applauded on many levels.