Francis deSouza has resigned from his position as CEO and director of Illumina, following a proxy fight and the handling of the $7.1 billion Grail acquisition.
Charles Dadswell, Senior Vice President and General Counsel has been named interim CEO while the Board of Directors conducts a search for a new CEO. deSouza, who joined Illumina in 2013, will stay on in an advisory capacity until July 31, 2023.
deSouza had held the CEO position since 2016 but recently came under fire because the San Diego, CA-based company acquired Grail despite intense regulatory scrutiny from FTC and the European Commission.
In March, Carl Ichan, an activist investor had been pushing to get more board seats and seek the removal of deSouza. Ichan pointed sharply criticized the move to acquire Grail before regulatory agencies gave approval to the deal.
Most recently, shareholders gave the boot to John Thompson, the company’s chair. However, Ichan failed for two other nominees to take board positions.
“After 10 life-changing years, I have decided that it’s time for me to hand over the reins,” deSouza posted on his LinkedIn page. “Leaving you will be a loss, deeply felt. That said, I leave with a sense of fulfillment and pride at where, together, we have taken the company.”
During his tenure, the company lowered the price of the genome from $5,000 to about $200.
In his LinkedIn post, deSouza wrote, “In 2013 Illumina was at a pivotal moment. We were the leader in research genomics, and we knew our future growth would come from the emerging clinical markets. Many people told us it was impossible for a research company to also serve clinical markets. Over the last decade, we embarked on a transformation effort and worked tirelessly to make everything we do clinical-grade - how we design, build, market, sell, and support our products. Today, we are the world’s leading clinical genomics company, with about half our revenues coming from clinical markets like non-invasive prenatal testing, cancer therapy selection, and genetic disease testing. I’m so proud of what the team has accomplished.”
Now questions remain about what will happen to Grail. Last week, MD+DI reported Illumina would appeal a ruling from FTC to divest the early cancer detection company.