Aldebaran Robotics has just announced that its founder and CEO Bruno Maisonnier is stepping down. We had heard rumors of leadership changes several weeks ago but now the Paris-based company has officially confirmed that SoftBank, which had acquired a majority stake in Aldebaran, will purchase all of the shares held by Maisonnier and appoint a new CEO.
We’re gathering more information about this development, and how it might impact the future of Aldebaran and its robots, Nao, Romeo, and Pepper, which SoftBank plans to start selling this year.
In the meantime, these are the highlights from the announcement:
- Aldebaran says that “upon Bruno Maisonnier’s request,” SoftBank Group will purchase all of the shares Maisonnier still holds, increasing its ownership of Aldebaran to 95 percent.
- Maisonnier will be appointed special advisor to Masayoshi Son and SoftBank Robotics, effective March 4, 2015.
- Maisonnier will resign from his position as CEO immediately prior to becoming special advisor to SoftBank Group.
- SoftBank has appointed Fumihide Tomizawa as the new CEO. He’s been the president of SoftBank Robotics since its establishment in August 2014. Tomizawa began his career at Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation in 1997 before joining SoftBank in 2000. He held various sales planning and business development positions before leading SoftBank Mobile’s robotics project (now SoftBank Robotics) in 2011.
More from the release:
Bruno Maisonnier says “After the successful release of Pepper, our main common project, I sold my shares in order for Aldebaran to become a new entity which will go much farther with SoftBank, and for me to step back from operations and gain perspective: fundamental things happened in the world, political, human, and technological ones, that need to be analyzed deeply and integrated into the founding bricks of the future robotics area. I need time to think, I have books to write, and people to meet around the world.”
Fumihide Tomizawa will be appointed the new CEO of Aldebaran effective March 4, 2015. He says, “We wish to thank Bruno Maisonnier for the immeasurable contributions he has made to the company since he founded it in 2005. With him, Aldebaran and SoftBank jointly announced ‘Pepper’, the world’s first personal robot that reads emotions, in June 2014. Guided by the SoftBank Group’s corporate philosophy, ‘Information Revolution — Happiness for everyone,’ we will strengthen collaboration with SoftBank Robotics and further drive Aldebaran’s growth globally.”
Erico Guizzo is the Director of Digital Innovation at IEEE Spectrum, and cofounder of the IEEE Robots Guide, an award-winning interactive site about robotics. He oversees the operation, integration, and new feature development for all digital properties and platforms, including the Spectrum website, newsletters, CMS, editorial workflow systems, and analytics and AI tools. An IEEE Member, he is an electrical engineer by training and has a master’s degree in science writing from MIT.