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Digimarc’s longtime CEO, Bruce Davis, retires abruptly

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Digimarc CEO Bruce Davis, who has led the Beaverton technology company since 2001, suddenly retired Monday.

Board member Riley McCormack, whose investment firm bought $53.5 million in Digimarc stock last fall, will step in to run the company. His Florida-based firm, TCM|Strategic Partners, owns 22.2% of Digimarc’s shares.

Another board member, Alicia Syrett, will succeed Davis as Digimarc’s chairwoman. She is CEO of another investment firm, Pantegrion Capital.

Digimarc did not explain Davis’ sudden exit but said his retirement “is unrelated to the company’s financial reporting and business performance, nor was his decision to leave due to any disagreement with the Company’s operations, policies or practices.”

In a statement Monday, Davis said “It’s time for a change” and said he had been working with McCormack since his firm made its investment in Digimarc in September. Davis was 68 at the time of Digimarc’s last report to shareholders in March.

Digimarc’s stock closed down 51 cents Monday at $28.93 and moved little in after-hours trading following the announcement of Davis’ retirement. The stock has traded between $11.77 and $58.74 in the past year; Digimarc has a market value of $488 million.

Founded in 1995, Digimarc is one of just two publicly traded technology companies still based in Oregon (Lattice Semiconductor is the other.) The company, which went public in 1999, has experimented with a number of technologies to protect images online or to digitally identify images on packaging.

Digimarc currently markets an invisible barcode that computers can read in a retail checkout line but that people cannot see.

Digimarc has had limited success popularizing its products, though, or establishing a profitable business.

The company reported $24.0 million in revenue last year, $1 million more than in 2019. It reported a $44 million loss in 2020, compared to a $33 million loss the prior year.

Digimarc valued Davis’ compensation at $3.7 million last year, most of it in stock awards. It will pay McCormack, the new CEO, a $1 annual salary and $250,000 in company stock.

In a presentation to investors, McCormack, 45, indicated he believes he will be CEO for a short time and said Digimarc represents a promising investment.

“I believe strongly the company has both the human and the technological capital in place to deliver on the massive opportunities ahead of it,” McCormack said in a statement Monday.

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