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Vicis CEO Dave Marver is departing the Seattle startup. (Vicis Photo)

Vicis CEO Dave Marver is stepping down, GeekWire has learned.

Marver co-founded the Seattle startup six years ago after Vicis spun out of the University of Washington. The company’s $950 high-tech football helmet, called the Zero 1, is built to mitigate the impacts believed to cause concussions and is worn by NFL and NCAA players across the nation.

Ralph Greene is taking over as Vicis CEO. (CCG Photo)

“It’s not uncommon for founder/CEOs to depart at this point,” Marver told GeekWire via email. “The board met recently and thought this was the right time to make a transition.”

Marver said he’s ready to take a break “after years of withering hard work.”

“I have felt such a profound obligation to VICIS’ employees and investors, and all of our customers, that I have worked too much … beyond what’s reasonable,” he said. “It’s time for a pause.”

Marver previously spent 14 years at Medtronic and four years at Seattle-based Cardiac Science Corporation before launching Vicis.

Vicis replaced Marver with Ralph Greene, who is serving as interim CEO, effective immediately. Marver recruited Greene to Vicis’ board in 2017.

Greene is currently CEO of Columbia Consulting Group, a sports and technology industry consulting firm. He previously spent 21 years at Nike, where he worked with high-profile athletes such as LeBron James and Tiger Woods and oversaw key business units across various sports.

“On behalf of the board of directors and everyone at Vicis, I want to thank Dave for his vision and leadership,” said Greene. “His many contributions to the company’s impressive list of accomplishments give us a strong foundation for growth. This is an exciting moment for Vicis. Building on the success of our ZERO1 and ZERO1 YOUTH helmets, we plan to accelerate our mission to elevate protection for even more athletes through continued innovations in football and expansion into additional sports.”

Seahawks wide receiver David Moore sports the Vicis Zero 1 helmet during a game last year. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Vicis has raised more than $85 million to date from investors that include current and former NFL players Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin, Alex Smith, Roger Staubach, and Jerry Rice.

The company’s $495 youth helmet ranked first in Virginia Tech’s inaugural youth football helmet safety ratings by a significant margin and was just named to Time Magazine’s 100 Best Inventions of 2019. Vicis also placed first again in the NFL’s recent helmet safety test.

More than three-quarters of all NFL teams now have a starter who wears a Vicis helmet. At the college level, 180 programs have deals with Vicis, up from 125 last year.

Participation in football has declined in recent years, and head injuries are a contributing factor. Nearly half of parents say they would sway their kids away from playing football due to concerns over concussions, according to a poll last year from NBC and The Wall Street Journal. The NFL and the NCAA teamed up this summer to make the sport of football safer.

Vicis is looking to create helmets for other sports, which could happen in the next year. It debuted a soft helmet for use during practices, 7-on-7, and flag football in July.

“Vicis has an amazing portfolio of technology, not just in football, but in other sports,” Marver said. “Some of the helmets that will launch in the next year or two are incredible. But the thing that makes Vicis truly special are its people. As long as that team stays together, especially the R&D group, they will do remarkable things. As Vicis’ No. 1 shareholder, I’m the company’s biggest fan.”

Another longtime Vicis executive, Tony Titus, left the company in June after nearly four years. Other Vicis co-founders include Per Reinhall, chair of the UW’s mechanical engineering department and Vicis’ CTO, and Samuel Browd, professor of neurological surgery at the UW and Vicis’ CMO. UW engineering professor Jonathan Posner is another co-founder; he left the company in 2015.

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