Mark Dankberg Returns to Role as Viasat CEO
Mark Dankberg is returning to his role as Viasat CEO, about a year and a half after shifting to executive chairman. Dankberg, who co-founded the company in 1986, will resume the roles of chairman and CEO, and current President and CEO Rick Baldridge will become vice chairman, a newly created position. Viasat announced the changes on Wednesday.
Viasat said Baldridge will focus on closing the Inmarsat acquisition, and integrating the combined company. Baldridge will also continue to lead Viasat’s evaluations of strategic initiatives.
The operator said this change is the result of “internal organizational planning and evolution over the past two years designed to scale Viasat internal operational responsibilities.” Dankberg will be supported in overseeing Viasat’s day-to-day operations by Kevin Harkenrider, who was promoted to COO in 2021.
“Today’s moves allow us to optimize the contributions of Viasat’s foundational leaders in Mark and Rick, and reflect the company’s commitment to a thoroughly planned and executed integration with Inmarsat that will position us to achieve the financial and operational results enabled by the transaction,” commented Sean Pak, the lead independent director on Viasat’s board.
When the change was made in November 2020, Viasat said that Dankberg would transition to executive chairman, explaining this was the first step in the company’s succession plan and “formalized” the way Dankberg and Baldridge had been operating — with Dankberg focusing on strategic technology, business direction, and the regulatory environment, and Baldridge focusing on executive and operational leadership.
However, Dankberg continued to make public appearances typically associated with a CEO including speaking about the Inmarsat acquisition on investor calls and interviews, and appearing on panels at trade shows.
Dankberg addressed his role change in a January 2022 interview with Via Satellite:
“The change we made back in 2020 wasn’t because I was going to be less involved, but rather just more focused on assessing changes occurring in the space industry. … I spent a lot of time working with our team researching, analyzing, and modeling, to be sure we’re not missing anything,” Dankberg said. “Rick and I have always had a very close working relationship, and a very strong management team. We’re always going to be vigilant around new technologies and business models, but after a year or so of intense focus there I’m just back to allocating my time more like I did before.”