Leadership Team



David King - Founder and Chief Executive Officer

David King founded Exaptive in 2011 to facilitate hypothesis-generation and innovation using data. Frustrated that discovery was often hindered by software and that discovery often hinged on serendipity, Dave was driven to build a software ecosystem that facilitates unexpected, cross-disciplinary connections and yields more Aha! moments for data scientists, researchers, developers, statisticians, and everyone who needs to make better decisions from data. 


A graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, Dave has spent 15 years working in software development – from system architecture and large-scale database design, to the psychology of user interfaces, to managing software development teams. During 12 years at SynQor, Inc., where he was chief software architect and IT director, he pioneered paperless manufacturing information systems and developed an industry-leading component-level tracking system that received accolades from customers including Cisco Systems, Intel, EMC, Compaq, and Nortel Networks.

Dave has presented about his approach to working with data at software development, Big Data, and life sciences conferences worldwide.


Mike Perez

Michael Perez - Co-founder and Chief Community Officer

Michael Perez uses his skills in business, law, and communications to build, engage, and understand Exaptive’s community of users. As Chief Community Officer, Mike’s role is listening to and learning from the community so that Exaptive is at the forefront of meeting their needs and creating great experiences within the Cognitive Network and Xap Store. 


Graduating with distinction from the University of Virginia and cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School, Mike spent more than 10 years as an attorney and public policy advocate. He brings to Exaptive considerable experience in project leadership, strategic planning, coalition building, and communications and a passion for data storytelling and data-driven decision making.


Jeff Johnston

Jeff Johnston - Co-founder and Design Lead

Jeff Johnston is responsible for what users see, how they interact, and how they experience the Exaptive ecosystem. As Design Lead, he oversees design and development of the Exaptive platform API, SDK, and visualization components.  Jeff appreciates elegant software architecture and clean design.


Prior to Exaptive, Jeff successfully launched an independent video game development studio and grew it to 100 employees before it was acquired. The physics engine he developed formed the basis of several generations of the racing game, “Need for Speed.” On leaving the gaming industry, he studied graphic design and spent five years doing freelance computational graphic design work, including data visualization and generative design, before joining Exaptive.

Jeff earned a Design Essentials Certificate from the Emily Carr University of Art and Design at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. He previously earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering physics from the University of British Columbia.


Clive Higgins

Clive Higgins - Chief Operating Officer

Clive Higgins is responsible for the business planning and growth of Exaptive. He brings more than 25 years’ experience in building high-performance sales and marketing teams and accelerating growth in enterprise/scientific software businesses. Prior to joining Exaptive, Clive grew three startups to eight-figure annual revenues and successful acquisition by Fortune 500 companies. This included CambridgeSoft Corp., acquired by PerkinElmer Inc.; Cogenics, acquired by Beckman Coulter Genomics; and VG Instruments, acquired by Thermo Fisher Scientific. 


Clive’s efforts at Exaptive include developing and positioning value-based solutions from strategic market and customer insights; recruitment and development of highly effective commercial and operational teams; financial and organizational leadership; and maximizing effectiveness and productivity through CRM tools with metric-based activity management.  Clive’s passion is growing a company based on delighted customers and seeing the positive impact of delivering value.  

In addition to Harvard Business School Executive Education in strategic marketing management and leadership in the 21st century, Clive earned a bachelor’s degree with honors in applied chemistry from Brunel University in London.

Advisory Board members


Andrea Brennen

Artist, designer, visualization specialist, Andrea helps Exaptive at the intersection of science and design. Andrea earned a master’s degree in architectural design from MIT and bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and visual arts from Grinnell College. 



Marcia Kean

Marcia has partnered with hundreds of CEOs at start-up firms to build value for their companies by shaping their visibility and credibility. She works with Exaptive on extending its thought leadership and advancing its ideas, technologies, and products. Marcia has more than 35 years of experience in biopharma and informatics industries, academe, and government. She is chairman of strategic initiatives at Feinstein Kean Healthcare, a specialty consulting firm she led as CEO from 2002 to 2011. Marcia holds an M.B.A. from New York University and a B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley.




David Merberg

David has worked with Exaptive since its inception as scientific advisor. With more than 25 years’ experience in pharmaceutical and biopharma informatics, he provides Exaptive with insights into drug discovery and the computational tools needed to fill gaps that limit basic medical research. By helping the company understand what tools are missing, he drives product development. David earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and his Ph.D. in molecular biology from the University of Michigan. He also was a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University. 



Joe Lichtenberg

Exaptive looks to Joe for guidance with marketing and business development strategies. As a consultant to senior and executive level leaders, Joe’s 25 years of experience help with product positioning, identification of target markets, and the development, execution, and leadership of all product marketing deliverables and the marketing programs to penetrate markets. Joe earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of Vermont and a master’s in engineering from Boston University.