EX-10.8 20 d229773dex108.htm SEVERANCE AGREEMENT Severance Agreement

Exhibit 10.8

AUDIENCE, INC.

SEVERANCE AGREEMENT

This Severance Agreement (the “Agreement”) is made and entered into by and between Lloyd Watts, Ph.D. (“Executive”) and Audience, Inc., a Delaware corporation (the “Company”), effective as of August 30, 2011 (the “Effective Date”).

RECITALS

1.        Executive is a founder of the Company and will be transitioning into the role as Chief Scientist.

2.        The Board of Directors of the Company (the “Board”) believes that it is in the best interests of the Company and its shareholders (i) to assure that the Company will have the continued dedication and objectivity of Executive and (ii) to provide Executive with an incentive to continue Executive’s employment and to motivate Executive to maximize the value of the Company for the benefit of its shareholders.

3.        The Board believes that it is imperative to provide Executive with certain severance benefits upon Executive’s termination of employment under certain circumstances. These benefits will provide Executive with enhanced financial security and incentive and encouragement to remain with the Company.

4.        Certain capitalized terms used in the Agreement are defined in Section 6 below.

AGREEMENT

NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the mutual covenants contained herein, the parties hereto agree as follows:

1.        Term of Agreement. This Agreement will terminate upon the date that all of the obligations of the parties hereto with respect to this Agreement have been satisfied.

2.        At-Will Employment. The Company and Executive acknowledge that Executive’s employment is and will continue to be at-will, as defined under applicable law. If Executive’s employment terminates for any reason, Executive will not be entitled to any payments, benefits, damages, awards or compensation other than as provided by this Agreement, the payment of accrued but unpaid wages or other compensation, as required by law, as may otherwise be available in accordance with the Company’s established employee plans, and any unreimbursed reimbursable expenses, and this Agreement supercedes all prior agreements or arrangements relating to the same.

 


3.      Severance Benefits.

(a)      Termination without Cause or Resignation for Good Reason. If the Company terminates Executive’s employment with the Company without Cause or if Executive resigns from such employment for Good Reason, then subject to Section 4, Executive will receive the following:

(i)      Accrued Compensation. The Company will pay Executive all accrued but unpaid vacation, expense reimbursements, wages, and other benefits due to Executive under any Company-provided plans, policies, and arrangements.

(ii)      Severance Payment. Executive will be paid continuing payments of severance pay at a rate equal to Executive’s base salary rate, as then in effect, for six (6) months from the date of such termination of employment, to be paid periodically in accordance with the Company’s normal payroll policies.

(iii)      Extended Post-Termination Exercise Period. Notwithstanding any other provision in any applicable equity compensation plan and/or individual stock option agreement, Executive’s outstanding and vested stock options as of the Executive’s termination of employment date will remain exercisable until the earlier of: (x) the (2) year anniversary of Executive’s termination of employment date; or (y) the one (1) year anniversary of the effective date of the first registration statement that is filed by the Company and declared effective pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, with respect to any class of the Company’s securities; provided, however, that the post-termination exercise period for any individual stock option will not extend beyond the earlier of its original maximum term or the tenth (10th) anniversary of the original date of grant. Executive understands that to the extent any of his currently outstanding stock options qualify as “incentive stock options” under Section 422 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, the extending of the post-termination exercise periods thereof is a modification of such incentive stock options, may disqualify his stock options as incentive stock options and may result in Executive having nonstatutory stock options. Executive represents that he has had the opportunity to consult with any tax advisors Executive deems advisable in connection with the execution of this Agreement and that Executive is not relying on the Company for any tax advice.

(b)      Voluntary Resignation; Termination for Cause. If Executive’s employment with the Company terminates voluntarily by Executive (other than for Good Reason), then Executive will not be entitled to receive severance or other benefits except for (i) those (if any) as may then be established under the Company’s then existing severance and benefits plans and practices or pursuant to other written agreements with the Company, and (ii) the Extended Post-Termination Exercise Period set forth in Section 3(a)(iii) above. If Executive’s employment with the Company is terminated for Cause by the Company, then Executive will not be entitled to receive severance or other benefits except for those (if any) as may then be established under the Company’s then existing severance and benefits plans and practices or pursuant to other written agreements with the Company.

 

-2-


(c)        Disability; Death. If the Company terminates Executive’s employment as a result of Executive’s Disability, or Executive’s employment terminates due to his or her death, then Executive will not be entitled to receive any other severance or other benefits, except for (i) those (if any) as may then be established under the Company’s then existing written severance and benefits plans and practices or pursuant to other written agreements with the Company, and (ii) the Extended Post-Termination Exercise Period set forth in Section 3(a)(iii) above.

(d)        Exclusive Remedy. In the event of a termination of Executive’s employment as set forth in Section 3(a) of this Agreement, the provisions of Section 3 are intended to be and are exclusive and in lieu of any other rights or remedies to which Executive or the Company otherwise may be entitled, whether at law, tort or contract, in equity, or under this Agreement (other than the payment of accrued but unpaid wages, as required by law, and any unreimbursed reimbursable expenses). Executive will be entitled to no benefits, compensation or other payments or rights upon a termination of employment other than those benefits expressly set forth in Section 3 of this Agreement.

4.      Conditions to Receipt of Severance

(a)        Release of Claims Agreement. The receipt of any severance payments or benefits (other than the accrued benefits set forth in either Sections 3(a)(i)) pursuant to this Agreement is subject to Executive signing and not revoking a separation agreement and release of claims in a form acceptable to the Company (the “Release”), which must become effective and irrevocable no later than the sixtieth (60th) day following Executive’s termination of employment (the “Release Deadline”). If the Release does not become effective and irrevocable by the Release Deadline, Executive will forfeit any right to severance payments or benefits under this Agreement. In no event will severance payments or benefits be paid or provided until the Release actually becomes effective and irrevocable.

(b)        Confidential Information and Invention Assignment Agreements. Executive’s receipt of any payments or benefits under Section 3 (other than the accrued benefits set forth in either Sections 3(a)(i)) will be subject to Executive continuing to comply with the terms of the At Will Employment, Confidentiality Information, Invention Assignment, and Arbitration Agreement dated March 25th, 2004, between the Company and Executive, as such agreement may be amended from time to time.

(c)    Section 409A.

(i)        Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Agreement, no severance pay or benefits to be paid or provided to Executive, if any, pursuant to this Agreement that, when considered together with any other severance payments or separation benefits, are considered deferred compensation under Section 409A of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”), and the final regulations and any guidance promulgated thereunder (“Section 409A”) (together, the “Deferred Payments”) will be paid or otherwise provided until Executive has a “separation from service” within the meaning of Section 409A. Similarly, no severance payable to Executive, if any, pursuant to this Agreement that otherwise would be exempt from Section 409A pursuant to Treasury Regulation Section 1.409A-1 (b)(9) will be payable until Executive has a “separation from service” within the meaning of Section 409A.

 

-3-


(ii)        It is intended that none of the severance payments under this Agreement will constitute “Deferred Payments” but rather will be exempt from Section 409A as a payment that would fall within the “short-term deferral period” as described in Section 4(e)(iv) below or resulting from an involuntary separation from service as described in Section 4(c)(v) below. However, any severance payments or benefits under this Agreement that would be considered Deferred Payments will be paid on, or, in the case of installments, will not commence until, the sixtieth (60th) day following Executive’s separation from service, or, if later, such time as required by Section 4(c)(iii). Except as required by Section 4(c)(iii), any installment payments that would have been made to Executive during the sixty (60) day period immediately following Executive’s separation from service but for the preceding sentence will be paid to Executive on the sixtieth (60th) day following Executive’s separation from service and the remaining payments shall be made as provided in this Agreement.

(iii)        Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Agreement, if Executive is a “specified employee” within the meaning of Section 409A at the time of Executive’s termination (other than due to death), then the Deferred Payments, if any, that are payable within the first six (6) months following Executive’s separation from service, will become payable on the first payroll date that occurs on or after the date six (6) months and one (1) day following the date of Executive’s separation from service. All subsequent Deferred Payments, if any, will be payable in accordance with the payment schedule applicable to each payment or benefit. Notwithstanding anything herein to the contrary, if Executive dies following Executive’s separation from service, but before the six (6) month anniversary of the separation from service, then any payments delayed in accordance with this paragraph will be payable in a lump sum as soon as administratively practicable after the date of Executive’s death and all other Deferred Payments will be payable in accordance with the payment schedule applicable to each payment or benefit. Each payment and benefit payable under this Agreement is intended to constitute a separate payment under Section 1.409A-2(b)(2) of the Treasury Regulations.

(iv)        Any amount paid under this Agreement that satisfies the requirements of the “short-term deferral” rule set forth in Section 1.409A-1(b)(4) of the Treasury Regulations will not constitute Deferred Payments for purposes of clause (i) above.

(v)        Any amount paid under this Agreement that qualifies as a payment made as a result of an involuntary separation from service pursuant to Section 1.409A-1(b)(9)(iii) of the Treasury Regulations that does not exceed the Section 409A Limit (as defined below) will not constitute Deferred Payments for purposes of clause (i) above.

(vi)        The foregoing provisions are intended to comply with the requirements of Section 409A so that none of the severance payments and benefits to be provided hereunder will be subject to the additional tax imposed under Section 409A, and any ambiguities herein will be interpreted to so comply. The Company and Executive agree to work together in good faith to consider amendments to this Agreement and to take such reasonable actions which are necessary, appropriate or desirable to avoid imposition of any additional tax or income recognition before actual payment to Executive under Section 409A.

 

-4-


5.      Limitation on Payments. In the event that the severance and other benefits provided for in this Agreement or otherwise payable to Executive (i) constitute “parachute payments” within the meaning of Section 280G of the Code, and (ii) but for this Section 5, would be subject to the excise tax imposed by Section 4999 of the Code, then Executive’s benefits under Section 3 will be either:

 

 

(a)

delivered in full, or

 

 

(b)

delivered as to such lesser extent which would result in no portion of such benefits being subject to excise tax under Section 4999 of the Code,

whichever of the foregoing amounts, taking into account the applicable federal, state and local income taxes and the excise tax imposed by Section 4999, results in the receipt by Executive on an after-tax basis, of the greatest amount of benefits, notwithstanding that all or some portion of such benefits may be taxable under Section 4999 of the Code. If a reduction in severance and other benefits constituting “parachute payments” is necessary so that benefits are delivered to a lesser extent, reduction will occur in the following order: (i) reduction of cash payments; (ii) cancellation of awards granted “contingent on a change in ownership or control” (within the meaning of Code Section 280G), (iii) cancellation of accelerated vesting of equity awards; (iv) reduction of employee benefits. In the event that acceleration of vesting of equity award compensation is to be reduced, such acceleration of vesting will be cancelled in the reverse order of the date of grant of Executive’s equity awards.

Unless the Company and Executive otherwise agree in writing, any determination required under this Section 5 will be made in writing by the Company’s independent public accountants or such other person or entity to which the parties mutually agree (the “Firm”), whose determination will be conclusive and binding upon Executive and the Company. For purposes of making the calculations required by this Section 5, the Firm may make reasonable assumptions and approximations concerning applicable taxes and may rely on reasonable, good faith interpretations concerning the application of Sections 280G and 4999 of the Code. The Company and Executive will furnish to the Firm such information and documents as the Firm may reasonably request in order to make a determination under this Section. The Company will bear all costs the Firm may incur in connection with any calculations contemplated by this Section 5.

6.      Definition of Terms. The following terms referred to in this Agreement will have the following meanings:

 

 

(a)

Cause. “Cause” will mean:

(i)      the Executive commits a crime involving dishonesty, breach of trust, or physical harm to any person;

(ii)     the Executive willingly engages in conduct that is in bad faith and injurious to the Company, including but not limited to, misappropriation of trade secrets, fraud or embezzlement;

 

-5-


(iii)     the Executive commits a material breach of this Agreement or any other written agreement with the Company;

(iv)     the Executive willfully refuses to implement or follow a lawful policy or directive of the Company; or

(b)        Disability. “Disability” means that Executive has been unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment that can be expected to result in death or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than twelve (12) months. Alternatively, Executive will be deemed disabled if determined to be totally disabled by the Social Security Administration. Termination resulting from Disability may only be effected after at least thirty (30) days’ written notice by the Company of its intention to terminate Executive’s employment. In the event that Executive resumes the performance of substantially all of Executive’s duties hereunder before the termination of Executive’s employment becomes effective, the notice of intent to terminate based on Disability will automatically be deemed to have been revoked.

(c)        Good Reason. “Good Reason” shall mean Executive’s voluntary termination, within thirty (30) days following the expiration of any Company cure period (discussed below) following, without Executive’s consent:

(i)     a material reduction by the Company of Executive’s then-current annual base salary, except to the extent the base salaries of all other executives of the Company are similarly reduced;

(ii)     following Executive’s transition to the position of Chief Scientist, a material reduction of Executive’s duties, authority or responsibilities, provided that any reduction in duties, authority or responsibilities resulting solely from the Company being acquired by and made a part of a larger entity shall not be considered a material reduction; or

(iii)     a material change in the geographic location of Executive’s principal workplace; provided, that a relocation of less than fifty (50) miles from Mountain View, California will not be considered a material change in geographic location

Executive may not resign for Good Reason without first providing the Company with written notice within ninety (90) days of the initial existence of the condition that you believe constitutes “Good Reason” specifically identifying the acts or omissions constituting the grounds for Good Reason and a reasonable cure period of not less than thirty (30) days following the date of such notice.

(d)        Section 409A Limit. “Section 409A Limit” will mean two (2) times the lesser of: (i) Executive’s annualized compensation based upon the annual rate of pay paid to Executive during the Executive’s taxable year preceding the Executive’s taxable year of Executive’s termination of employment as determined under, and with such adjustments as are set forth in, Treasury Regulation 1.409A-1(b)(9)(iii)(A)(1) and any Internal Revenue Service guidance issued with respect thereto; or (ii) the maximum amount that may be taken into account under a qualified plan pursuant to Section 401(a)(17) of the Code for the year in which Executive’s employment is terminated.

 

-6-


7.      Successors.

(a)      The Company’s Successors. Any successor to the Company (whether direct or indirect and whether by purchase, merger, consolidation, liquidation or otherwise) to all or substantially all of the Company’s business and/or assets will assume the obligations under this Agreement and agree expressly to perform the obligations under this Agreement in the same manner and to the same extent as the Company would be required to perform such obligations in the absence of a succession. For all purposes under this Agreement, the term “Company” will include any successor to the Company’s business and/or assets which executes and delivers the assumption agreement described in this Section 7(a) or which becomes bound by the terms of this Agreement by operation of law.

(b)      Executive’s Successors. The terms of this Agreement and all rights of Executive hereunder will inure to the benefit of, and be enforceable by, Executive’s personal or legal representatives, executors, administrators, successors, heirs, distributees, devisees and legatees.

8.        Notice.

(a)      General. Notices and all other communications contemplated by this Agreement will be in writing and will be deemed to have been duly given when sent electronically or personally delivered when mailed by U.S. registered or certified mail, return receipt requested and postage prepaid or when delivered by a private courier service such as UPS, DHL or Federal Express that has tracking capability. In the case of Executive, notices will be sent to the e-mail address or addressed to Executive at the home address, in either case which Executive most recently communicated to the Company in writing. In the case of the Company, electronic notices will be sent to the e-mail address of the Chief Executive Officer and the General Counsel and mailed notices will be addressed to its corporate headquarters, and all notices will be directed to the attention of its Chief Executive Officer and General Counsel.

(b)      Notice of Termination. Any termination by the Company for Cause or by Executive for Good Reason will be communicated by a notice of termination to the other party hereto given in accordance with Section 8(a) of this Agreement. Such notice will indicate the specific termination provision in this Agreement relied upon, will set forth in reasonable detail the facts and circumstances claimed to provide a basis for termination under the provision so indicated, and will specify the termination date (which will be not more than ninety (90) days after the giving of such notice).

 

-7-


9.        Resignation. Upon the termination of Executive’s employment for any reason, Executive will be deemed to have resigned from all officer and/or director positions held at the Company and its affiliates voluntarily, without any further required action by Executive, as of the end of Executive’s employment and Executive, at the Board’s request, will execute any documents reasonably necessary to reflect Executive’s resignation.

10.        Miscellaneous Provisions.

(a)      No Duty to Mitigate. Executive will not be required to mitigate the amount of any payment contemplated by this Agreement, nor will any such payment be reduced by any earnings that Executive may receive from any other source.

(b)      Waiver. No provision of this Agreement will be modified, waived or discharged unless the modification, waiver or discharge is agreed to in writing and signed by Executive and by an authorized officer of the Company (other than Executive). No waiver by either party of any breach of, or of compliance with, any condition or provision of this Agreement by the other party will be considered a waiver of any other condition or provision or of the same condition or provision at another time.

(c)      Headings. All captions and section headings used in this Agreement are for convenient reference only and do not form a part of this Agreement.

(d)      Entire Agreement. This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement of the parties hereto and supersedes in their entirety all prior representations, understandings, undertakings or agreements (whether oral or written and whether expressed or implied) of the parties with respect to the subject matter hereof, including all prior agreements purporting to amend options held by Executive and all prior agreements providing for severance or other compensation to Executive upon termination or resignation of his employment with the Company. No waiver, alteration, or modification of any of the provisions of this Agreement will be binding unless in writing and signed by duly authorized representatives of the parties hereto and which specifically mention this Agreement.

(e)      Choice of Law. The validity, interpretation, construction and performance of this Agreement will be governed by the laws of the State of California (with the exception of its conflict of laws provisions). Any claims or legal actions by one party against the other arising out of the relationship between the parties contemplated herein (whether or not arising under this Agreement) will be commenced or maintained in any state or federal court located in the jurisdiction where Executive resides, and Executive and the Company hereby submit to the jurisdiction and venue of any such court

(f)      Severability. The invalidity or unenforceability of any provision or provisions of this Agreement will not affect the validity or enforceability of any other provision hereof, which will remain in full force and effect.

(g)      Withholding. All payments made pursuant to this Agreement will be subject to withholding of applicable income, employment and other taxes.

 

-8-


(h)      Effect of this Agreement. Executive understands that to the extent any Options qualified as incentive stock options under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, the amendment to the Options to extend the post-termination exercise periods thereof may disqualify the Options as incentive stock options and may result in Executive having non-qualified stock options. Executive further understands that in any event an incentive stock option converts into a non-qualified stock option three (3) months and one (1) day after the Executive’s termination of employment with the Company. Executive represents that Executive has consulted with any tax consultants Executive deems advisable in connection with the execution of this Agreement and that Executive is not relying on the Company for any tax advice.

(i)      Counterparts. This Agreement may be executed in counterparts, each of which will be deemed an original, but all of which together will constitute one and the same instrument.

 

-9-


IN WITNESS WHEREOF, each of the parties has executed this Agreement, in the case of the Company by its duly authorized officer, as of the day and year set forth below.

 

COMPANY

   

AUDIENCE, INC.

   

BY:

 

/s/ Peter Santos        

   

Title:

 

President & CEO

   

Date:

 

9.9.11

 

EXECUTIVE

   

By:

 

/s/ Lloyd Watts         

   

Title:

 

Chief Technology Officer

   

Date:

 

Sept 9/2011

 

-10-