Lilac Welcomes Raef Sully as New CEO

Lilac Community,

I’m excited to share that we have appointed Raef Sully as Lilac’s new CEO starting today. Raef joined Lilac as COO in July. He was previously CEO of Nutrien’s $10 billion nitrogen and phosphate business unit, where he managed capital projects and operations in the mining and chemicals space. I will move into a President and CTO role and remain on the board of directors. Our new team structure will set us up for success in Lilac’s next phase of growth, and now is an ideal time to make the change.

When I first drafted Lilac’s business plan in 2015 as a solo founder, my work experience included lifeguarding, playing drums in an Indie Rock band, and condensed matter physics. Hardly the archetype for a mining CEO. Initially, I had planned to hire a CEO with experience running a business. I soon realized that what the company needed at the time was a climate-obsessed fanatic willing and able to work insane hours for little money and who would bolt awake at 4am every morning dreaming of ion exchange chemistry. I knew of only one person who met that description, and with infinite patience and support from my wife and first son, I excitedly assumed the CEO role.

I was lucky to have investors, colleagues, and friends who took a chance on me. During Lilac’s first year, I raised $15k-50k checks one-at-a-time from family, friends, and a few brave souls that I met at startup pitch competitions. Nick Goldberg was a close friend and one of those early investors; he soon joined the team full time as Lilac’s long-time COO and is now Lilac’s Chief Legal Officer. Matthew Nordan at Prime Impact Fund and Dave Danielson from Breakthrough Energy Ventures were our first institutional investors, leading our Seed and Series A rounds and allowing us to take the business to the next level. Altogether, we’ve now raised a total of $315M including Series B and C rounds co-led by Lowercarbon Capital, T. Rowe Price, and Mercuria.

Over the last eight years, Lilac has gone from being a thermodynamic simulation on my laptop to a multinational technology company providing engineering and operational services to some of the world’s largest lithium projects. The technology is amazing and blows the competition out of the water on performance and environmental sustainability, thanks to one of the sharpest materials chemistry teams in the world. Amos Indranada was my first hire, joining the company at age 19 and bringing a spirit of die-hard technical mastery ranging from inorganic chemistry to spectroscopy to equipment fabrication to process control, some learned at UC Berkeley, some learned on YouTube, and much improvised. Amos and I have worked closely together on the technology ever since with an amazing team of engineers including Alysia Lukito, Nico Grosso Giordano, Garrett Lau, Keerti Shukla, Alex Gershanov, Dennis Neymit, and Tom Wilson, all of whom joined in the early days happily putting in heroic efforts and succeeding with impossible tasks, and who remain with the company today.

With Lilac’s technology consistently outperforming the competition by a wide margin and proven in the field, and with a strong cash position following our Series C financing, now is an ideal time to appoint a new CEO to lead the next phase of Lilac’s growth: signing commercial partnerships and delivering commercial scale plants.

The first time I met Raef Sully, he was interviewing for the COO role at Lilac, and I immediately saw his potential to lead the company. That day, as we talked about the opportunities and challenges ahead for Lilac, I naturally brought up my desire to appoint a new CEO of his caliber in the coming years. Raef brings a warm leadership style with exceptional experience across mining, chemicals, and oil and gas. This diverse set of experiences matches the Lilac ethos of multi-disciplinary innovation and execution. And Raef’s experience in construction and operation of more than ten billion dollars of complex facilities internationally will be a huge asset for Lilac for years to come.

Raef and I shared this news with the Lilac team earlier today, and the excitement was palpable. As President and CTO, I’ll continue to support strategy conversations with Raef, the board, and the executive team, and I’ll pull together our technology and materials manufacturing teams again under my direct leadership.

Surprisingly, over the last two years, after declaring victory on technology development and successfully completing our first round of field piloting, the pace of innovation at Lilac has actually accelerated. We’re doing cutting edge engineering with a brilliant team and uncovering new technology improvements monthly, enabling a series of breakthroughs in performance and cost. I’m excited to take this work to the next level and to support Raef in achieving commercial production at scale.

Please join me in welcoming Raef Sully as CEO of the world’s leading lithium extraction technology company.


Dave Snydacker



About Lilac Solutions

Lilac Solutions is a lithium extraction technology company based in Oakland, California. Lilac has developed a patented ion exchange technology that facilitates production of lithium from brine resources with high efficiency, minimal cost, and ultra-low environmental footprint. Lilac’s mission is to scale global lithium production to support the electric vehicle industry and energy transition.

For more information, please visit

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