PointRoll's fans often say the advertising services subsidiary contributes an outsized share of Gannett's overall profits. So, what happens to the bottom line if CEO Jason Tafler were to join other senior managers in leaving the company in the months ahead?
to join GSI Commerce as CEO of the e-commerce firm's marketing services division.
This speculation focuses on whether Tafler and the other execs are in line to get multimillion-dollar earn-out payments by year's end. Such installment payments presumably would be due under terms of the original 2005 deal governing Gannett's purchase of PointRoll. Once paid, the thinking goes, Tafler & Co. would have fewer incentives to stick around.
Saridakis himself collected a $4.6 million payment in 2008 when he sold his approximately 8% ownership stake in the company to GCI. Overall, paidContent has reported, Gannett paid about $100 million for the company; Gannett kept those details confidential when it announced the deal, however. Assuming paidContent is on target, that amount would be the single-largest investment I can recall since Gannett went on a newspaper buying spree in 1999-2000.
Speculation about PointRoll's management is apparently fueled by other issues as well. Gannett's overall digital strategy -- including PointRoll -- has been ill-defined since Saridakis disclosed plans to leave more than five months ago; Gannett has yet to announce his replacement.
Plus, Saridakis -- CEO of PointRoll when he was named chief digital officer in early 2008 -- remained close to the company and its executives during his two years as CDO. That's naturally led to handwringing that Tafler and others might follow Saridakis to GSI Commerce. (Indeed, PointRoll, in Conshohocken Pa., is just around the bend from GSI, in King of Prussia.)
Alternatively, the PointRoll executives could launch a start-up of their own, as did another Gannett digital executive, Kevin LeFew, earlier this year in forming online services start-up Digital Fulcrum.
Lately, Gannett is a company that appears to be struggling to execute on a big newspaper website development project, and the expansion of its high school sports network. Is that a company where talented, ambitious technology executives would feel at home?
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