Armughan Ahmad will be stepping in as CEO of Appen Limited no later than Jan. 30, the company announced this week.
An Australian-based data company that creates or enhances data for machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), Appen’s leadership switch up comes on the heels of a challenging financial year for the company.
“The board and I are excited to work with Armughan as we continue to grow our focus on large-scale tech, enterprise customers and accelerating our products and services in the dynamic and fast-paced AI market,” said Richard Freudenstein, Appen board chair, in a press release.
According to Appen officials, outgoing CEO and managing director, Mark Brayan, will stay on until Feb. 28 to assist with the transition. Serving as CEO for seven years, Brayan expanded Appen’s revenue from $60 million in 2015 to $440 million in 2021, according to Freudenstein.
“I want to acknowledge Mark’s leadership of the company over that time. In particular, his commitment to the company during the Covid period was immense,” Freudenstein said in a press release. “Mark has built a strong executive team, and we’re grateful for everything the team and the company has achieved under his leadership.”
While Appen saw explosive growth from the mid-2010s to the 2020s, the past year saw a similarly dramatic decline. According to Business News Australia, shares that once traded for upwards of $40 in 2020 dipped to $2.38 last month, a decline spurred in part by reduced spending from big clients like Google, Boeing, Adobe, Bloomberg, and Salesforce.
Likewise, a potential buyout by Canadian company Talus at $9.50 per share stalled due to ambiguity in the market. That ambiguity and slowed spending is in part the result of new Apple restrictions on third-party data harvesting from browsers and apps, Business News Australia reports.
Looking forward, the company’s goal is to double fiscal-year 2021’s revenue of $447 million by fiscal-year 2026. Ahmad aims to achieve those goals by leveraging experience gained through a career at in product, sales, and services at Dell Technologies, Hewlett Packard, and most recently KPMG.
“Armughan is an outstanding candidate and is ideally suited to be the next CEO of Appen,” Freudenstein said in a press release. “He is one of the technology industry’s most successful and respected executives having worked in both technology product companies in Dell Technologies, Hewlett Packard and also in the services industry transformation at KPMG.”