iRobot chairman and co-founder Greiner resigns

Helen Greiner's step-down at the maker of robotic floor cleaners and military combat robots, which follows that of fellow co-founder Rodney Brooks, is unexpected and unexplained.

Candace Lombardi
In a software-driven world, it's easy to forget about the nuts and bolts. Whether it's cars, robots, personal gadgetry or industrial machines, Candace Lombardi examines the moving parts that keep our world rotating. A journalist who divides her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, Lombardi has written about technology for the sites of The New York Times, CNET, USA Today, MSN, ZDNet, Silicon.com, and GameSpot. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not a current employee of CNET.
Candace Lombardi
2 min read

iRobot co-founder Helen Greiner has resigned from her position as chairman of iRobot, effective October 24, the company announced Wednesday evening.

iRobot co-founder Helen Greiner iRobot

Chief Executive Colin Angle, also a co-founder, was voted unanimously by iRobot's board to take Greiner's place. Angle will also remain the company's CEO, according to a company statement.

iRobot was not immediately available for comment.

The company is now down two major company leaders. Greiner's sudden departure closely follows a September announcement that iRobot co-founder and famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology roboticist Rodney Brooks was leaving his position as iRobot's chief technology officer.

Brooks is working at another robotics company, Heartland Robotics. iRobot said in September that it would not begin looking for Brooks' replacement until early 2009.

Like Brooks, Greiner plans to remain on iRobot's board and stay involved as a member of the robotics community.

"I am excited about where the robot industry is going and how I can help shape the future through individual endeavors, work with the Robotics Technology Consortium, Massachusetts Robotics Cluster, and the various boards on which I serve," Greiner said in a statement, which, like the company statement gave no explanation for her resignation.

"Since co-founding iRobot in 1990, Helen has been an integral part of the company and played a large role in our success. We are fortunate that she will maintain a position on our board of directors as she continues to drive the robot industry forward," Angle said.

While both Greiner and iRobot have said the decision was mutual, some are speculating as to the reason behind her step-down.

Greiner speaks after being named a 2008 Women of Vision Award winner.
(Credit: The Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology)

"Greiner didn't go into detail about why she's stepping down as chairman, and it's hard not to speculate that it was at least partially involuntary--but at the same time, it's easy to imagine that she has simply had enough of the grind and has decided to move on," said Robert Buderi in an article on Xconomy, the only news outlet Greiner appears to have spoken to directly since the announcement.

Perhaps a speech Greiner gave when she was honored in June by the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology as its 2008 Women of Vision Award Winner for Innovation (see video on right) is an indication of her next challenge.