It’s the end of an era. After more than 20 years leading the company, both CEO Daniel Haver and CIO/President Mate Galic are out of their roles.
This a major shift for Native Instruments. Haver was co-founder of NI back in 1997; Mate Galic has had a major role in almost every significant NI product and has also been in leadership positions since shortly after he joined in 1999. And the two are moving to a “Supervisory Board” that was only just formed. So that means there’s a new team in charge, without question.
The new management are people well known at NI. Effective 1 October, Constantin Koehncke moves from Global Marketing Director and head of the Los Angeles office into the role of CEO. NI confirms he’s now in charge – this isn’t an interim role. Con is well known to any technology press as he’s at various times also been a press contact.
Robert Linke will take over as Chief Product Officer and President (CPO replacing CIO). Linke has been Director of Products for Instruments & Sound since 2015 – that’s “virtual instruments, effects, and sounds,” so essentially all producer-oriented products. Prior to that, he was Product Owner for all instruments and effects back to 2006.
Linke’s appointment as would seem to represent a return to NI’s core businesses around producers, and a strong voice for continuity.
In a statement, Native Instruments refers to “a time of strength” with “highly successful releases from NI’s KOMPLETE Instruments and Effects division, and a financial year on course to be the best in the company’s 24 year history.”
That should come as no surprise to anyone following the musical instruments business in 2020. Pandemic lockdowns in the first half of the year saw a surge in business, particularly for software, which can be purchased directly at home and isn’t constrained by this year’s manufacturing and shipping challenges. Of course, no one really knows exactly what the rest of 2020 will look like. (Well, not only for NI, I mean – for planet Earth.)
NI’s change in leadership comes at the end of an otherwise rough 12 months. Haver’s leadership faced allegations of being unresponsive to racism and racial diversity (published in Mixmag, among other places). Last year, Haver’s team oversaw deep cuts in the workforce, including 20% in a single day (and closer to 30% over the course of the year).
But the more significant sign here than either of those may be that following a significant 2017 investment, it’s been hard to get a handle on a new “platform” or services offering NI had promised. Even following last summer’s restructuring, NI again talked about “a connected and unified experience.” They continue to deliver product updates, but not anything as an onlooker that I would say fit that platform description. (Sounds.com and Native Access, for instance, still remain largely disconnected.)
So now, we’ll see what the direction is from the new team, and what other changes may follow. At the very least, the company is in the hands of two people with a background as a journalist and DJ (Koehncke) and producer and DJ (Linke).
Once they’re settled in, I hope we’ll get to talk to them and understand their vision for what’s next.
Here’s the official statement from the outgoing CEO and co-founder:
Daniel Haver, Co-Founder and CEO says: “Mate and I believe now is the right time to hand over the company to a new generation of leaders. Native Instruments today is in a very strong place and it’s on this foundation that Constantin and Robert will bring fresh energy, continuing to deliver exceptional products. Their many years of leadership in Marketing and Products and countless successful contributions made them the perfect choice to lead Native Instruments into the future.”
“It’s been a privilege for us to lead Native Instruments for over 20 years and we’re immensely proud of what we have achieved as a company, as well as personally. Native Instruments will always be home to Mate and I, and we’re excited to support Constantin and Robert in writing the next successful chapter.”