Cobalt hires former Danisco exec as new CEO, Chairman

By Cobalt Technologies | November 29, 2011

Developer of next generation bio n-butanol Cobalt Technologies appointed Bob Mayer as chairman of its Board of Directors and CEO. With more than 30 years of experience in the chemicals and biotech sectors, Mayer joins Cobalt to lead the company as it focuses on developing commercial facilities globally. As Chairman and CEO, Mayer will be responsible for setting strategic direction, cultivating partnerships and driving the company to profitability. 

Cobalt’s bio n-butanol technology converts biomass and nonfood waste sugars into bio n-butanol at a cost that is 40 to 60 percent lower than current petrochemical technology. N-butanol is currently sold into a multibillion dollar market and Cobalt’s low-cost process enables the use of n-butanol as a chemical feedstock for conversion into a wide variety of chemicals and fuels, greatly expanding the addressable market. 

“I am eager to join the Cobalt team, which is in an exciting stage as it forges new business relationships and begins building large-scale facilities,” Mayer said. “Cobalt is in a prime position for explosive growth and I look forward to leveraging my experience to continue its rise in the biofuels, chemicals and jet fuels markets.”

Mayer, who has extensive experience growing businesses within the biotech sector as the former executive vice president of Danisco, will also lead the development of strategic business relationships and fundraising for the company.

“We are pleased Bob has joined the Cobalt team as chief executive officer and we look forward to working under his leadership to continue advancing the company,” said John Hamer of Burrill and Co., the outgoing Chairman. “Bob’s wealth of experience in the mature biotech and chemicals markets is invaluable for Cobalt, which has moved out of pilot testing and into larger-scale projects on the road to commercialization.”

For the past 30 years, Mayer has honed his biotech expertise holding executive leadership positions at multinational companies. Most recently he was the CEO of Genencor International Inc., a leading global industrial enzyme company wholly owned by Danisco A/S. Prior to this, Mayer spent 25 years at Danisco starting as president of Danisco USA, Inc. where he grew the company from its first U.S. factory to a business with sales approaching $1 billion. He then became the president of the Textural Ingredients Division of Danisco A/S in 1990 and completed his career with the company in 2005 as the executive vice president of Danisco A/S responsible for food ingredients, which had sales of over $3 billion.

Additionally, Mayer will join Cobalt’s board of directors with significant board experience, currently serving on the board of Edeniq Inc., a biofuels company and Kalesec, Inc, a private company active in plant extracts for the food and functional food industries. He formerly served on the board of Martek Biosciences Inc. prior to its sale to DSM earlier this year. Mayer started his career as an assistant professor of chemical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Cobalt Technologies is a leader in commercializing the production of bio n-butanol as a renewable chemical and fuel. N-butanol is a widely used industrial chemical found in paints, lacquers and other surface coatings, with a global market of over $5 billion. By producing low-cost bio n-butanol, Cobalt’s unique technology enables the use of n-butanol as a platform molecule for the production of a broad array of fuels and chemicals, including jet fuel, biobased plastics and synthetic rubber. Cobalt’s technology platform offers a continuous process to efficiently convert diverse nonfood feedstocks into biobutanol. Engineered to achieve low costs through its proprietary biocatalyst, advanced bioreactor and energy efficient design and the use of low-cost feedstock, Cobalt is making biobutanol and its derivatives a cost-effective substitute to petroleum-based chemical products.

Cobalt is based in Mountain View, Calif., and is backed by leading investors in the cleantech sector, including Pinnacle Ventures, Malaysian Life Sciences Capital Fund, VantagePoint Capital Partners, Parsons & Whittemore, Life Sciences Partners (LSP) @Ventures, Harris & Harris and Burrill and Company.

For further information, please visit