Jonathan Bush steps down as athenahealth CEO: 4 things to know

Athenahealth co-founder Jonathan Bush has resigned as president, CEO and member of the company's board, effective immediately.

"I believe that working for something larger than yourself is the greatest thing a human can do," Mr. Bush said in a June 6 company statement announcing his departure. "Athenahealth is a near once-in-a-lifetime example of such a thing. With that lens on, it's easy for me to see that the very things that made me useful to the company and cause in these past 21 years are now exactly the things that are in the way."

Here are four things to know about the abrupt resignation:

1. The athenahealth board has hired an executive search firm to assist with its CEO search. To ease its transition, the company appointed athenahealth Chairman Jeff Immelt to the post of executive chairman and gave athenahealth Executive Vice President, CFO, Chief Accounting Officer and Treasurer Marc Levine greater day-to-day operational responsibilities.

"On behalf of the board, I want to thank Jonathan for guiding athenahealth to this point and for building an incredible team, which is deeply focused on our clients and on driving disruptive, positive change across the healthcare industry," Mr. Immelt said in the June 6 statement. "The board and Jonathan agree that this change in leadership is appropriate as athenahealth turns to its next chapter."

2. Mr. Bush's departure follows Elliott Management making an unsolicited all-cash offer for athenahealth in early May, which may be worth almost $7 billion. Elliott Management is an investment management firm with a reputation for restructuring leadership teams and aggressively pursuing deals, according to Forbes.

3. Elliott Management first disclosed its purchase of a 9.2 percent stake in athenahealth in May 2017, raising questions about athenahealth's future among those in the healthcare industry. Last August, the athenahealth board of directors and management team unveiled plans to restructure the company's senior leadership, including hiring a president and chairman of the board— both roles previously filled by Mr. Bush.

4. In its June 6 statement, athenahealth also disclosed its board of directors had initiated a process to consider "strategic alternatives" for the company, which might include a sale, merger or continuing as an independent company under new leadership.

"We approach this process with an open mind and a commitment to continuing to strengthen the company — including its rich data asset, platform strategy and culture of innovation," Mr. Immelt said in the statement. "We are fully focused on serving the best interests of our shareholders, employees and clients."

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