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Benefitfocus founding CEO stepping down from top role

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Benefitfocus CEO Shawn Jenkins plans to step down from the helm of the tech firm he founded 17 years ago.

Jenkins and Mason Holland launched the benefits management software provider in Mount Pleasant in 2000. The startup has since grown to employ several thousand people, now working on an expanded headquarters campus on Daniel Island.

JenkinsBenefitfocus is among the largest tech firms in the Charleston region and one of a handful of publicly traded tech companies in the state.

As of next year, Jenkins will transition into a new role at the company — senior adviser for innovation — and continue as a board member.

AugustRay August will take his place as CEO, effective Jan. 1, after a vote by the company board of directors. August joined the company in 2014, soon after it went public in 2013, serving as president and chief operating officer.

Before Benefitfocus, August was president and general manager of the financial services division of CSC, a computer services company.

“As Ray and I have worked together during the last three years, he has demonstrated an ability to lead Benefitfocus as evidenced by our strong financial and operational performance,” Jenkins said in the release. “Now, with our most successful open enrollment underway and a deep leadership bench in place, I have decided to focus my time on shaping the long-term technology and strategic vision for Benefitfocus.”

In his new role, Jenkins will explore emerging technologies — such as artificial intelligence, voice recognition and bots — and how they might apply to the personalization of benefits.

“Under Shawn’s leadership and vision, Benefitfocus has grown from a startup into a successful public company by building a scalable platform capable of powering the entire benefits ecosystem, which has helped reshape the benefits administration market,” August said in the release.

Jenkins will be paid a $100,000 salary and $50,000 in stock each year through 2020, according to a company filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

August will be eligible to receive $3 million a year, a combination of cash and mostly shares, according to the filing. His annual salary will be $500,000. He will be eligible for a bonus up to 100% of his base salary, and he will receive an annual stock option valued at $2 million, paid out based on continued employment and performance.

He will also receive a one-time stock grant of $1.5 million, paid out in five annual installments, based on continued employment.

Reach Liz Segrist at 843-849-3119.

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