Nanomix loses high-profile CEO

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Jan. 21, 2003 — Nanomix Inc. has parted ways with its president and chief executive, Charles Janac.

Alex Wong, a partner at Apax Partners Inc. and a Nanomix board member, declined to say why Janac had left, but confirmed that he left after a board meeting on Jan. 10.

The move seems surprising, given that Janac had successfully refocused Nanomix’s strategy and closed a $9 million round of funding in Sept. 2002. “He’s an A player” in nanotechnology, said Bo Varga, president of NanoSIG, a nanotechnology networking organization based in Moffett Field, Calif.

But Wong was matter-of-fact about the departure. “Startups move at a fast pace, and lots of things happen. I don’t think it’s that big a change.” Wong said that Nanomix would continue to pursue both its short-term focus on sensors and its long-term strategy of becoming a nanotechnology platform for energy and electronics. Wong also said that Nanomix was on track to deliver prototype sensors for a pilot later this quarter.

Janac did not return phone calls to his home. Janac joined Nanomix in October 2001, when it was known as Covalent Materials Inc. Janac shifted the company’s focus from nanomaterials to nanoelectronics and energy storage, and changed its name last April. Janac was also a finalist for business leader of the year in Small Times magazine’s 2002 Best of Small Tech Awards.

Stan Williams, director of quantum computing at Hewlett-Packard Co.’s research lab and a noted figure in nanotech, said he thought Janac’s departure would not disrupt Nanomix. “It’s the culture of these little companies — the CEO is interchangeable. It’s the chief technology officer that holds the whole thing together. That’s George Gruner, and he’s staying.”

Gruner, listed as chief scientist on the company’s Web site, currently is the top-ranking official at the firm.

Wong would not say whether Janac would be replaced directly, but did say that a new management team was in place at Nanomix, and an announcement would be forthcoming.

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