Bharat Vasan is no longer the Chief Executive Officer at Pax Labs, the consumer tech company that makes cannabis vaporizers. A source familiar with the situation said that the board of directors made the decision to remove Vasan from the CEO role. His last day was Friday.
We’ve reached out to Vasan for comment. Pax is declining to elaborate on what drove its decision.
Certainly, it’s a surprising move, given that Vasan was appointed the CEO of Pax not so long ago — in February of 2018. Before that, he served as President and COO of August Home, which was acquired by Swedish lock maker Assa Abloy in 2017. Previous to that, Vasan was the cofounder of Basis, a fitness-based wearable company that was acquired by Intel in 2014 for $100 million.
Vasan also led the company in its most recent round this past April, in which it secured $420 million from Tiger Global Management, Tao Capital, and Prescott General Partners, among others. The post-money valuation for the company at the time was $1.7 billion.
Vasan is a veteran of consumer electronics, but Pax may be looking for a CEO that has more operational experience in cannabis.
After all, Pax is at an interesting intersection in its path, navigating an oft-changing regulatory landscape around cannabis. Moreover, the entire cannabis industry — and vaporizer industry — is under a microscope in the wake of hundreds of reports of vape-related lung illness. The CDC says that there have been 380 cases of lung illness reported across 36 states, with six deaths. Most patients reported a history of using e-cigarette products containing THC.
Pax is currently on the hunt for a new chief executive. In the meantime, its general counsel, Lisa Sergi, who joined the company at the end of July, will be its interim CEO and president.
Sergi had this to say in a prepared statement:
PAX is uniquely positioned as a leader in the burgeoning cannabis industry, with a talented team, an iconic brand, quality products and the balance sheet to achieve our ambitious goals and continued growth trajectory. I am extremely excited and honored to have been entrusted to lead this extraordinary company.