Stratospheric balloon company World View Enterprises has tapped a drone-industry veteran and Southern Arizona native to become its new CEO.
The Tucson-based company named Ryan Hartman, former CEO of Boeing’s Insitu unmanned aircraft subsidiary, to replace co-founder Jane Poynter as chief executive.
Poynter will remain as a strategic advisor and member of World View’s board of directors, the company said.
Hartman spent eight years with Washington-based Insitu, including a three-year stint as CEO before leaving in January 2018.
Founded in 1994 and acquired by Boeing in 2008, Insitu makes the small ScanEagle reconnaissance drones used by the U.S. and more than 20 nations.
"It was exciting to have an opportunity to join a team like this, they are really pioneers," Hartman said.
Hartman, 44, said he's excited to join World View and happy to return to Arizona. His parents were ranchers in the San Rafael Valley east of Nogales and he later lived in Northern Arizona.
Prior to Insitu, Hartman was a program manager and director of unmanned systems and advanced programs at Tucson-based Raytheon Missile Systems from 2004 to 2010.
At World View, Hartman will lead the company's transition from technology development to scaled operations and development of its Stratollite balloon craft.
"It's about the productization of the Stratollite," Hartman said. "We're ensuring that we have a product that we will be proud to put the World View name on."
In a prepared statement, Poynter said she was honored to serve as CEO and is pleased with Hartman’s appointment.
"We’ve made amazing progress and have built a strong foundation for the company to thrive under Mr. Hartman’s leadership," Poynter said. "I couldn’t be happier with his appointment and the board and I are confident that, as a seasoned leader with unrivaled aerial systems expertise, he is the right person to build on our momentum and carry the vision forward."
World View’s Stratollite is designed to be a long-endurance stratospheric flight vehicle capable of loitering over areas of interest for remote sensing and communications.
World View doesn't publicize most of its flights, but Hartman said the company will continue test flights to demonstrate long-endurance flying as well as other capabilities and will boost the number of flights this year as it reaches development milestones.
Hartman said his experience in aerial sensing with Insitu is helpful, but World View's technology is a different animal.
"It's a new perspective and creating a different kind of value for prospective customers," Hartman said.
Though World View confirmed recently that it let 10 employees go as part of a staff restructuring, the company is still hiring for key positions.
Hartman said it wasn't a layoff in the traditional sense, and the company is healthy and growing.
"It was a process of making sure we have the right talent as we enter the next phase of the company," he said. "We're on a growth trajectory and expect to remain on that trajectory."
World View leases its headquarters and manufacturing building south of Tucson International Airport in a $15 million deal that has faced criticism and court challenges.
Poynter will remain an important contributor as an adviser and board member.
Co-founder Tabor MacCallum, Poynter's husband and longtime business partner, remains as the company's chief technology officer.
Hartman declined to discuss the current ownership of the privately held company or whether Poynter or MacCallum still own stakes in World View.
The company has raised nearly $50 million from investors, with major investment rounds led by Canaan Capital and Accel, a major Silicon Valley investor.
Hartman is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy and a graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
“I’m fortunate to have inherited a very healthy business,” Hartman said. “We have an exceptionally talented team, a committed and world-class investor base, and a clear roadmap for growth and success.”