Wi-LAN chief executive Skippen to retire

Wi-LAN president and CEO Jim Skippen plans to retire, the Ottawa-based company announced late Monday.

The patent-licensing firm said a special committee of its board will begin the search for Mr. Skippen’s successor immediately, and he will work closely with the board on an “orderly leadership transition over the next year.”

Mr. Skippen, who joined Wi-LAN (TSX:WIN)(NASDAQ:WILN) nine years ago, will remain in both positions until his replacement is named. He has agreed to remain on the board once his retirement takes effect.

WiLAN chair Paul McCarten credited Mr. Skippen for saving the company.

“There was a serious question before Jim joined as to whether WiLAN could continue as a viable going concern since WiLAN had almost no cash, no permanent employees and no ongoing revenues or backlog,” Mr. McCarten said in a statement. “Today it has a much higher share price and market capitalization, a significant intellectual property portfolio, a strong balance sheet and significant backlog.”

Mr. Skippen called it a “privilege” to run the company and was quick to spread credit for its success.

“We have built an employee and leadership team that is second to none. This team is fully capable of continuing our growth and building on our past successes,” Mr. Skippen said in a statement. “I have made the decision to retire at this time because after almost a decade with WiLAN and as I get older, I would like to spend more time with my family and to focus on completing some other projects I have put off for a long time.”

Under Mr. Skippen’s leadership, WiLAN’s cash position has increased from $1 million to $140 million. In that time, the company has signed licence agreements worth more than $850 million and increased its market capitalization from less than $30 million to more than $330 million.

During his tenure, WiLAN’s patent portfolio has jumped from less than 10 to more than 10,000, its dividend was introduced and raised six times and the staff has grown from just him to 66.