The CEO of Maryland’s Technology Development Corporation has resigned, the latest in a series of departures from the investment agency that has struggled since a damning legislative audit report was released about its performance earlier this year.
TEDCO board members were notified of the departure of George Davis this week. The board is expected to begin meeting about a transition plan on Thursday.
Davis’ tentative last day with TEDCO will be July 31, according to a news release. He is leaving “to pursue a new opportunity,” the agency said.
“George Davis has provided stellar leadership and vision to TEDCO, and we are grateful for his service,” Francis Smyth, chair of TEDCO’s Board of Directors, said in a written statement, which also explained that Davis’ contract had expired, and that Davis had chosen not to opt for renewal. “Our Board originally charged George with building on TEDCO’s solid foundation to make TEDCO the central hub for tech entrepreneurs and start-ups in Maryland. By any measure, George and his team achieved that goal and more. We are sorry to see him go and wish him well in his next endeavor.”
Last month, TEDCO announced that Andy Jones, chief investment officer at the agency and the managing director of the affiliated Maryland Venture Fund, and Parag Sheth, director and chief marketing officer of the Maryland Venture Fund, would be leaving on June 7.
Davis has worked as TEDCO’s CEO since June 2017.
A fiscal compliance audit released in February reviewed corporation activities between January 2015 and April 2018, concluding that that there were significant problems with the Maryland Venture Fund, the largest of more than a dozen programs operated by TEDCO.
Among the issues cited were reliance by the TEDCO board on advice from an ad hoc three-member investment advisory committee not established in state law or regulation. Two of the three members were associated with venture firms that had previously received $21 million in commitments through the fund.
The audit also found that TEDCO investments were made to companies not based in the state of Maryland at the time of the investment or following the investment, and that investments in third-party venture firms weren’t being passed on to Maryland start-up or tech companies. A new state law to guide future financing practices and bring more openness to the agency’s operations took effect June 1.
The measure was passed unanimously by lawmakers and signed into law by Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R).
Montgomery County Sen. Cheryl C. Kagan (D), who sponsored the reform legislation, said Wednesday morning that it was unfortunate that TEDCO’s top leaders “didn’t want to stick around to improve the agency” and instead chose to leave as the new law was taking effect.
Regarding Davis’ departure, Kagan said she had confidence in TEDCO’s board and staff to lead the agency in finding a new leader.
“I think it’s good news for the agency to have an opportunity for a fresh start. I think it’s bad news for the customers, the tech companies who need startup money, who are now going to face unexpected delays due to the need to identify and recruit new leadership for this important agency,” Kagan said.
Maryland Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz, a member of the agency’s board of directors, agreed that Davis’ departure represents a new starting point for TEDCO. Schulz praised Davis’ performance as CEO and said she’s thankful he agreed to stay on until the end of July and has offered to stay on as a consultant after that.
“Just because there are going to be personnel changes at TEDCO, that does not mean that the state of Maryland isn’t moving forward with a heavy emphasis on these tech industries. We want to make sure that everyone knows that Maryland is available to contribute to the success of those entrepreneurs,” Schulz said.
The board is meeting Thursday at the TEDCO offices in Columbia, but those sessions aren’t open to the public. In an email viewed by Maryland Matters, Smyth said he didn’t expect a quorum at the meeting, so the board would be unable to pass the agency’s 2020 budget, a new procurement policy or a nominating committee. Those are expected to be voted on in July.
On Thursday, board members will begin planning for a general transition plan and continue discussion about a study examining TEDCO’s workplace culture.
Davis also released a statement about his departure.
“I could not be more proud of what the TEDCO team has accomplished in helping entrepreneurs and start-ups access industry-leading investment services, training and capital, in addition to protecting and growing Maryland investments,” he said. “I’m especially proud that TEDCO has begun to make unprecedented strides in helping Maryland’s women and minority entrepreneur communities.”