John Cline, founder of the clinical trial technology company etrials, stepped down as the chief executive officer of the firm on Monday.

Cline’s departure was planned, according to a spokesperson for the company. Cline will remain a member of the firm’s board.

The company’s 150 employees, including 110 in the Triangle, were told of Cline’s departure by Cline and his replacement, Eugene “Chip” Jennings. Jennings assumed the CEO job on Monday. The announcement of the change was made public after the markets closed.

“It’s something that of course did not happen overnight,” spokesperson Mike Banas said. “At this point, [Cline] has decided to pursue future entrepreneurial activities.”

etrials (NASDAQ: ETWC) is a provider of software and medical devices for use in so-called “eClinical trials.” Offerings include “eDiaries.”

Cline will remain available to offer “strategic guidance to the company” as a board member, Banas said.

“Chip is the right person to lead etrials as it continues to transform into a major player in the industry,”Cline said in a statement. “I am extremely proud and honored to have led our great employees from a small North Carolina start-up software firm to a top-tier, publicly held global eClinical solutions company. As I move on to other entrepreneurial endeavors, I remain committed to etrials and support this change in management as a step forward in building a leading eClinical software solutions company.”
Jennings, 53, has more than 25 years of experience in the healthcare industry. He worked most recently at SHPS and Matria Healthcare.

“Chip has the vision, experience, credentials and dedication to take etrials to the next level in the eClinical space,” said Hans Lindroth, chairman of the etrials board, in a statement. “In appointing Chip to this position, we are tasking him with enhancing etrials’ already strong growth, continuing to strengthen the corporate structure, and exploring acquisition opportunities and strategic partnerships that can further position etrials for greater opportunities in the years to come. With Chip’s extensive expertise and years of operating experience, we are confident that the company will continue to grow and improve its financial results.”

Jennings, who earned undergraduate and graduate degrees at Michigan State University, was awarded 370,000 options on etrials common stock at $4.70 per share and another 50,000 shares of restricted stock. Etrials stock closed at $4.79 on Monday.

“etrials is at a critical juncture in its corporate history,” Cline said. “The eClinical business is growing at an accelerating pace, as adoption continues to increase throughout the industry. In this expanding market, we are well positioned to take advantage of the numerous growth opportunities, including potential acquisitions. In my many years in the healthcare industry, I have never been more excited about an opportunity than I am about implementing etrials’ growth strategy and building the business.”