Josh James, at center of recent Utah tax relief controversy, steps down as CEO of Domo

Domo retained a tax incentive worth up to $23 million after James’ comments sparked an investigation.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Ed Catmull, then-president of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, visits then-Domo CEO Josh James at Domopalooza 2017 in Salt Lake City. James resigned as CEO of Domo.

Josh James, who founded Utah-based technology company Domo in 2010 and made more than $12.3 million there in 2021, stepped down effective March 1, according to a company press release.

The software company is considered one of Utah’s few “unicorns” – private startups valued at $1 billion or more – although its finances raised questions when it went public in 2018. Known in the Utah tech community as a successful entrepreneur, James co-founded Omniture and facilitated its $1.8 billion acquisition by Adobe before launching Domo.

Replacing James as CEO and joining American Fork’s board of directors is John Mellor, Domo’s Chief Strategy Officer since 2019.

James made headlines this year after he suggested Domo received a Utah tax incentive worth up to $23 million to keep the business in Utah, even though he didn’t. apparently had no intention of moving. The Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity and the Utah Attorney General’s Office investigated and found no wrongdoing.

The company retained the tax benefit, known as economic development tax increment funding. These incentives last from five to 20 years, allowing companies to earn a portion of the total reimbursement each year if they meet the targets specified in the incentive.

Domo is one of the Utah companies that won untendered state contracts early in the pandemic, along with Nomi Health and others as part of TestUtah.com, an effort to make more accessible tests that have since sparked controversy. Domo received a no-tender contract to develop a $2 million coronavirus dashboard for the state.

In its announcement regarding James, Domo also announced promotions and changes to its board of directors.

James said he was “very excited for the future of Domo” under Mellor’s leadership as the new CEO, according to the company’s press release.

“I have an aligned and substantial interest in seeing Domo do well, and I will continue to be his greatest cheerleader,” James said. “I look forward to seeing the next generation of leaders take Domo’s performance to the next level.”

Catherine Wong, chief product officer and executive vice president of engineering at Domo since 2013, has been promoted to chief operating officer.

In a shake-up of its board, Carine Clark, who joined the board in 2019, was named executive chair. Clark is a longtime technology executive and the current chairman of the board of Go Utah, which serves as the board of directors for the governor’s office of economic opportunities.

At the time of the tax incentive controversy, there was no evidence that Clark had undue influence over the process for awarding tax credits through GOEO. A review of GOEO board meetings showed that Clark backed out of the DOMO incentive approval discussion.

John Pestana, CEO and co-founder of Utah-based software company ObservePoint, also joined Domo’s board, according to the company’s announcement, increasing its size from seven members to eight. Pestana was James’ co-founder at Omniture.

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