Former BlackBerry CEO Heins Named Chairman of Startup Powermat
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Former BlackBerry CEO Heins Named Chairman of Startup Powermat

By Serena Saitto  Nov 18, 2014 1:55 AM ET

Thorsten Heins, former chief executive officer of BlackBerry Ltd. (BBRY), is taking the reins of Powermat Technologies Ltd. from founder Ran Poliakine after a board dispute over the leadership of the wireless startup.

Heins was named CEO and chairman of Powermat, the New York-based company said in a statement today. Poliakine will become vice chairman.

“My role is about growing it to scale and making it a global leading technology company,” Heins, who was BlackBerry CEO from January 2012 to late 2013, said in an interview yesterday as he was finalizing the contract. “Ran will continue to be an evangelist for the wireless recharging market.”

Poliakine, who founded Powermat in 2007, said he is “extremely excited that Heins is joining.”

The move is part of a succession plan that Poliakine agreed on with the board at a Feb. 4 meeting, he said. Poliakine volunteered to step down under pressure from investors including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) and hedge fund Hudson Clean Energy Partners, according to interviews with four board members. The investors wanted a new CEO who can take on more operating responsibilities, the board members said.

Powermat’s technology is used by customers including General Motors Co. (GM), which has rolled out Powermat-enabled vehicles. Starbucks Corp. (SBUX) is also installing the technology so consumers will be able to recharge wirelessly in 200 coffee shops in the San Francisco Bay area. DuPont is also working to embed Powermat’s solution in its Corian surfaces “because it has the most powerful network effect,” said David Walter, head of DuPont’s global business development.

The new CEO’s mission will be to continue striking partnerships with consumer companies, airports and others for Powermat’s technology and to make it as pervasive as Wi-Fi. He will also have to find ways to make money off the data that the company is collecting about users, Poliakine said.

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