Tuesday, November 15th 2016

EK Water Blocks Parts Ways with Top Management

In what is an unexpected piece of news, TechPowerUp learned from multiple sources both inside and out of the company that EK Water Blocks have had an estrangement from the majority of their top management including their CEO of over four years. This is an extremely important personnel change that can affect the landscape of the PC DIY water cooling market given the brand presence that EKWB has. We contacted said group including Mark Tanko, the CEO, Niko Tivadar, the CTO, and Andrej P. Škraba, the Head of Marketing, who confirmed they are all no longer affiliated with EKWB and they provided a statement seen below. We were also able to confirm this directly from the owner/founder of the company who is currently acting in the CEO role, and who has also provided a statement as seen past the break.
The statement from the former top management reads:
We can confirm that there has been leadership change at EKWB. As a result core management team consisting of CEO, CTO and Head of Marketing has left the company. We respect the decision of the owner to go in different direction. Our views on how to further develop and grow the niche and company were not compatible anymore. - Mark Tanko
At this point, we contacted EKWB for clarification and were answered by Edvard König himself who founded the company over a decade ago. He acknowledged the contributions of everyone who parted ways, and confirmed he is acting as the CEO with support from others who have remained with the company since its inception. The author's understanding was that EKWB's day-to-day operation was handled primarily by those no longer with the company and thus a chain of emails followed asking about the company's vision and how this would affect what is arguably the largest brand in this niche market today. In particular, EKWB had taken upon themselves to expand beyond PC DIY water cooling with copper-based components and released a quick-connect system-based AIO cooler system (EK-XLC Predator) and an all-aluminum, lower cost sub-brand titled EK Fluid Gaming. The former went EOL earlier this year, with a replacement "MLC" system announced in January but without release yet and the latter had only just come to market when this news broke out. Noting this is a sensitive topic, we received a statement in return from EKWB which is seen below:
CHANGES IN EKWB: New management and new execution
Fast growing company EKWB has new CEO and CTO. Executive powers were taken over by Edvard König, founder and owner, and Matjaz Krc, his business partner from the start, business angel and veteran in turnaround management. The reason behind owners decision was that views on execution of company's vision grew apart and changes were necessary for future growth and adaptation to new and fast market challenges. The company has currently 90 employees, from that 15 people in top and middle management and 7 in R&D.

Changes are opening the door for faster execution and more reliable launch of new products which was one of the biggest complaints from the market. Biggest changes are happening in two main areas: R&D and communication. The former needs to improve and that is why it is in revision and development. Regarding R&D we want to point out that the development team is already strong and EKWB is in the middle of its expansion - internally and with external partners - which will considerably accelerate the pace of development of new products. Strict project management will be put in place to manage time plans accordingly. EKWB's main advantage and basis for company's success was always the whole team and this is our core and pride. EKWB is putting a lot of effort in creating environment where the world's top talent can do the best work of their lives.

So, what is new at EKWB? At the moment everything goes according to project plans. There will be a lot of new exciting products for our users launched. Let us just share this year's launches, most of them will come already until end of November:
  • Long awaited EK MLC Phoenix is set to launch until 24th of November in a limited edition version.
  • EK-KIT A240R - Fluid Gaming expansion kit with Vega Full Cover water block until end of this month.
  • EK-AC Radeon Vega Fluid Gaming expansion full cover water block
  • EK-M.2 NVMe Heatsink Red, Blue, Green, Purple
  • EK-FB ASRock X299 RGB Monoblock (Fits 5 motherboards!)
  • EK-FB GA X399 GAMING RGB Monoblock
  • EK-FB MSI X399 GAMING PRO CARBON RGB Monoblock
  • EK-FB ASRock X399 RGB Monoblock
It is possible these products were in development and slated for release prior to the personnel change, but knowing there is a concrete plan to fulfill announcements helps soothe some fears no doubt. Statements and PR aside, it remains puzzling what the specific differences in company vision were when the company was seemingly having some of its best years yet. For what it is worth, at least based on my communication with the new team so far, things appear to be settling down to a rhythm again with new additions to the company happening, including PC modder Daniel "B Negative" Harper who himself had a short stint with the company earlier. Time will tell how things end up, and also where the estranged group find themselves next, all of which we will definitely keep an eye on.
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24 Comments on EK Water Blocks Parts Ways with Top Management

#1
xkm1948
EK MLC Phoenix, yes!
Posted on Reply
#2
atomicus
No info on Phoenix anywhere to be seen yet... and it's limited edition? What's going on here? Strange for a product to be launching in little over a week and no news yet. It had better be good!
Posted on Reply
#3
SARVAMANGALAM
just check last vlogers on youtub. ek is overrated now. Aio coolers are now really cheaper and more reliable cool new hot cpus like 1950x,7980x.. or lower. also risk on failure is low on aio.
yes , company need new ideas and direction to heavy future
Posted on Reply
#4
cadaveca
My name is Dave
Excellent news. Could not be happier about this. EK will return to their roots.
Posted on Reply
#5
xkm1948
cadaveca said:
Excellent news. Could not be happier about this. EK will return to their roots.
What root is that? I am really behind on any liquid cooling related fields
Posted on Reply
#6
EarthDog
Interesting to see where they will go after this...

Learnt... lol must be British. :)
Posted on Reply
#7
VSG
Editor, Reviews & News
EarthDog said:
Interesting to see where they will go after this...

Learnt... lol must be british. :)
Hah.. Some remnants of the British English system remains I see. I am not a Brit, but originally from a Commonwealth nation.

Changed to "learned" so it fits better with the rest in US English. Thanks for catching it :)
Posted on Reply
#8
cadaveca
My name is Dave
xkm1948 said:
What root is that? I am really behind on any liquid cooling related fields
NOT what they have now (which matches with what I assume is Eddy's statement). Eddy was pretty involved in the XOC community when EK first began... he's a great dude that knows his stuff extremely well.
Posted on Reply
#9
Hood
cadaveca said:
Excellent news. Could not be happier about this. EK will return to their roots.
Do you mean they will stop futzing around with pre-filled units and embrace their core business of custom loop components? If so, that's a good thing, the Predator series was a disaster for their reputation, which previously was the best in the world.
Posted on Reply
#10
Radnad
SARVAMANGALAM said:
just check last vlogers on youtub. ek is overrated now. Aio coolers are now really cheaper and more reliable cool new hot cpus like 1950x,7980x.. or lower. also risk on failure is low on aio.
yes , company need new ideas and direction to heavy future
You obviously haven't been keeping up with the RMA percentage of Asetek pumps recently.
Posted on Reply
#11
neliz
My two cents.

Bitspower has taken over a lot of projects from EK recently because EK spend their time (And resources) in other projects.

With BP seemingly more than half-decent on the execution side, a lot of people haven't even croaked about EK, check the X299, Z370, X399 CPU/monoblocks being used right now in the modding community, BP has enjoyed their time as a "premier" partner with MB and GPU manufacturers, time for EK to step up to the competition.
Posted on Reply
#12
PantatRebus
SARVAMANGALAM said:
just check last vlogers on youtub. ek is overrated now. Aio coolers are now really cheaper and more reliable cool new hot cpus like 1950x,7980x.. or lower. also risk on failure is low on aio.
yes , company need new ideas and direction to heavy future
Of course, if you compare EK 120mm slim radiator with huge 360mm AIO solution the result would be obvious. Thing is, it's CUSTOM. That's why its called custom loop. You'll be able to watercool virtually anything with it. Not just CPU.
Posted on Reply
#13
Gadgety
I rembember the peeling nickel situation. At that time Mr König himself was in charge.
Posted on Reply
#14
Lavin
Radnad said:
You obviously haven't been keeping up with the RMA percentage of Asetek pumps recently.
Oh you have? Do you happen to have some hard figures and factual data to back this up? I'm quite curious.
Posted on Reply
#15
stiglet
SARVAMANGALAM said:
just check last vlogers on youtub. ek is overrated now. Aio coolers are now really cheaper and more reliable cool new hot cpus like 1950x,7980x.. or lower. also risk on failure is low on aio.
yes , company need new ideas and direction to heavy future
There will always be a place for custom water cooling. The majority of the market that the AIOs replace will be air coolers. People who normally use custom will carry on using custom, because it's still and always will be the best choice if you're willing to put in the work and money.
Posted on Reply
#16
csatahajos
"just check last vlogers on youtub. ek is overrated now. Aio coolers are now really cheaper and more reliable cool new hot cpus like 1950x,7980x.. or lower. also risk on failure is low on aio.
yes , company need new ideas and direction to heavy future"

You obviously never had a custom loop or are too ignorant. A well designed and executed custom loop is still a lot more efficient and powerful not to mention that since it is custom it can cool any component in your system as long as there is a fitting cooling plate/block. As for being more reliable I have to laugh...it's an ice joke. Ohh and did I mention noise - there was no single AIO I had experience with that did not produce some pump noise/wear after a certain time.

Actually EK's Gaming Fluid systems are also comparable in price to AIO systems.
Posted on Reply
#17
Imsochobo
csatahajos said:
"just check last vlogers on youtub. ek is overrated now. Aio coolers are now really cheaper and more reliable cool new hot cpus like 1950x,7980x.. or lower. also risk on failure is low on aio.
yes , company need new ideas and direction to heavy future"

You obviously never had a custom loop or are too ignorant. A well designed and executed custom loop is still a lot more efficient and powerful not to mention that since it is custom it can cool any component in your system as long as there is a fitting cooling plate/block. As for being more reliable I have to laugh...it's an ice joke. Ohh and did I mention noise - there was no single AIO I had experience with that did not produce some pump noise/wear after a certain time.

Actually EK's Gaming Fluid systems are also comparable in price to AIO systems.
AIO is not that great and it's cooling potential even with same rad is quite poor unfortunately.
So I agree.

EK's GPU blocks are top notch and nothing so far comes close, for the threadripper blocks it's not great but all other blocks should be perfectly fine and outperform all AIO's by a good margin.
I have a AIO and a custom Loop using EK pump which is absolutely 100% silent (mobo\gpu coils make more noise!)
Posted on Reply
#18
Ginpo236
I'm somewhat new to custom watercooling and in my research read how good and bad certain products were. In the end I chose to diversify my components as it is certainly a crap-shoot sometimes on the quality you get from certain manufacturers.

For most of my radiators and waterblocks I went with EK as I ended up going for the looks of the waterblocks and the nice rectilinear lines of the Coolstream radiators.

I was a bit disappointed in their quality for the most part as I have RMA'd 3 times for 5 separate orders. Though they were quick to replace them I hope this change will provide better quality in the long run.
Posted on Reply
#19
cadaveca
My name is Dave
Gadgety said:
I rembember the peeling nickel situation. At that time Mr König himself was in charge.
Sure, and they made moves in 2011 to fix that. That was quite some time ago, after all. It was apparantly an effect of how the blocks were plated and I am sure that they learned lots from that process that in turn all block makers gained from.

Now, when that happened, if they didn't change things, and denied replacements for it, that'd be a problem, but I think EK handled all of that pretty well for all parties involved.
Posted on Reply
#20
Ceadderman
Welcome back to EK BNeg! :clap::clap::clap:

~Ceadder :toast:
Posted on Reply
#21
Ceadderman
SARVAMANGALAM said:
just check last vlogers on youtub. ek is overrated now. Aio coolers are now really cheaper and more reliable cool new hot cpus like 1950x,7980x.. or lower. also risk on failure is low on aio.
yes , company need new ideas and direction to heavy future
Do tell. o_O

AIOs are fine an all due to their price v. performance aspect. But they aren't at a place where a user would chuck a custom loop to go backward in performance. Also their limitation is the length of tubing making mounting options limited in most Cases(system, not scenario) as well as their short lifespan.

If you like them cool. But please stick to what you know and think before you call down the wrath of the custom loop gods upon ye. :nutkick:

~Ceadder :toast: ... dang, no drink smiley icon. :cry:
Posted on Reply
#22
CheapMeat
I just miss their old industrial, minimal designs and their circle cutout motif.
Posted on Reply
#23
Hood
With more efficient CPUs/GPUs, the need for extreme cooling has waned, and the high cost of other components is leaving little room in the budget for expensive custom loops these days. What's needed now is a sealed AIO with a better pump, and no crappy plastic parts in leak-prone areas - forget the RGB, the leaky, crackable clear plastic block, the colored liquid, the lame RGB sleeve fans - perhaps Corsair or someone should pay EKWB to design the pump, pay the damn royalties to Asetek, charge $150-$200, include premium fans, and produce a new series of AIO that competes favorably with custom loops, with rads in different thicknesses and lengths, to fit almost any case. I will need to replace my H110 someday, and I don't see anything better available, so I might have to go with a custom loop this time.
Posted on Reply
#24
Ceadderman
Hood said:
With more efficient CPUs/GPUs, the need for extreme cooling has waned, and the high cost of other components is leaving little room in the budget for expensive custom loops these days. What's needed now is a sealed AIO with a better pump, and no crappy plastic parts in leak-prone areas - forget the RGB, the leaky, crackable clear plastic block, the colored liquid, the lame RGB sleeve fans - perhaps Corsair or someone should pay EKWB to design the pump, pay the damn royalties to Asetek, charge $150-$200, include premium fans, and produce a new series of AIO that competes favorably with custom loops, with rads in different thicknesses and lengths, to fit almost any case. I will need to replace my H110 someday, and I don't see anything better available, so I might have to go with a custom loop this time.
EK just needs to do metal(brass) inserts in their Acrylic tops. That would solve the cracking issues. But they aren't the only ones that suffer from cracking. :kookoo:

~Ceadder :toast:
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