New CEO of Ann Arbor’s Clinc looks to scale, ‘write the next chapter’ for company

Clinc's new offices at 200 South First Street in Ann Arbor.
Clinc's new offices at 200 South First Street in Ann Arbor. (Clinc)

ANN ARBOR – Tech veteran Jon Newhard joined conversational AI startup Clinc as the new CEO in July in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

His arrival also came five months after its co-founder and former CEO Jason Mars stepped down over allegations of sexual harassment, verbal abuse and inappropriate conduct.

After Mars' exit gained national attention and the University of Michigan suspended its recruiting relationship with the company, many were left wondering: What’s next for Clinc?

From the onset, it was an intriguing success story. A talented husband and wife team recruited by the University of Michigan’s computer science department launch their conversational AI technology and become the first company in the niche space to raise $52 million in one round of funding.

It’s easy-to-use tech and virtual assistant Finie -- a more conversational version of Apple’s Siri -- is used by some of the world’s largest banks.

Enter Jon Newhard.

He said Clinc’s board was transparent about the nature of Mars' February departure, and, once hired, he spoke to employees from several departments to try and understand what was wrong with company culture.

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