Thursday, February 24, 2011

Chief digital officer? What chief digital officer?!

Third in a series of posts highlighting passages from the annual 10-K report, which Gannett filed yesterday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Over the past three years, Corporate led its list of accomplishments with digital. Perhaps unsurprisingly, last year's list did not include the resignation of Chief Digital Officer Chris Saridakis. His post has now been vacant 326 days.

Following are the relevant sections from 10-K reports for the past three years:

Drive innovation through the company to create new digital offerings that either complement our news and information businesses, or that take us into new markets with new audiences. This effort was bolstered by important executive appointments made in January 2008, with Chris D. Saridakis named as Senior Vice President and Chief Digital Officer. Saridakis is responsible for expanding and enriching the company’s global digital operations. Saridakis was named CEO of PointRoll in 2005 after serving two years as the company’s chief operating officer. Prior to PointRoll, Saridakis was senior vice president and general manager of the Global TechSolutions division for DoubleClick Inc.

Drive innovation through the company to create new digital offerings that either complement the company’s news and information businesses, or that take it into new markets with new audiences.

Drive innovation throughout the company to create new digital offerings that either complement the company’s news and information businesses, or that take it into new markets with new audiences. Digital revenue companywide in 2010, including the Digital segment and all digital revenues generated by the other business segments, was approximately $1 billion. This represents 18% of total operating revenues, an increase of 8% from 2009.

Earlier: In farewell letter to staff, Saridakis attacks paywall strategy


  1. The writer couldn't even bother to change the wording at all???!!!

  2. So I will ask this question again; other than selling a number of companies to Gannett can anyone list the successes CS produced before he ran away? Anybody????

  3. @9:13PM-I can! I can! Zero! Zip! Nil!

  4. They were fools to lose Saridakis. He is a visionary. You would think they would of offered him the sun to keep him on — but go figure!

  5. Saridakis was the best thing that this company has seen come and go! This company has no digital strategy, yet we all know digital (iPad, websites, mobile, social, email) is where our consumers are. They are definitely not buying newspapers or watching broadcast tv!

    Saridakis didn't last long enough to have as big an impact as he could have had. He was smart for getting out before it got worse.

  6. I bumped into Saridakis at the Janssens supermarket in Greenville the other week. He is a very impressive young guy that is well regarded in this community. He remembered where I worked at the News Journal and even remembered the project I was working on when he visited us in 2008.

    I do not think even Curtis Riddle knew who I was, yet Saridakis, after meeting me only once, three years later remembers me. We clearly have a big void in the digital area and need someone soon.

  7. It is tough to accomplish anything when your hands are tied.

  8. So the answer is the "visionary" did nothing except write an attack letter on his way out and that makes him a huge loss? Wow that's not the answer I thought the LTs would come up with. Come on throw me a bone. There had to have been ONE digital success story besides remembering a person's name in a grocery store!

  9. Jim,
    Can you reposted Saridakis letter that he wrote when he departed Gannett. If I remember correctly, he was pretty accurate in what was going to happen. He was very vocal in stating "pay walls will not work" among other things. I believe we would all agree! I also believe he was very vocal about the lack of decision making from the GMC. Anyone want to disagree with that?

    What I admired about him was that he stood up for what he believed and was not afraid of the powers to be at Gannett.

    Finally, to 5:34a, Saridakis is incredibly successful and has built some great companies when other were still collecting paychecks. He is also smart enough to know when to get out and fold too. Why would anyone smart and successful want to work at Gannett as the Chief Digital Officer? As we can see, Gracia has not found a successor and anyone less than Saridakis would be an embarrassment.

  10. All I know is Saridakis is hiring!!! He just hired our top five sales rep at PointRoll for one of his companies. Vision or not, this guy has a following and I cannot find one failure!

  11. I think it is really embarrassing for Ms. Martore not to have replaced Saridakis. Seriously, doesn't the board think this is a critical hire for a failing media company? Do we actually think Ms. Martore can manage all of these additional non-newspaper businesses?

  12. If I remember correctly from Jim's prior posts, Saridakis had the "vision" to get out of Gannett's stock near the highs in April 2010! What's not to like about a guy who is worth a few hundred million dollars that also connects with the everyday common man. I remember when he was working in the Crystal Palace, I would see him in the cafeteria buying his own lunch. In all my years at corporate headquarters, I never saw one GMC member enter that place. All their assistants ran down to fetch them food.

  13. 5:53 I've added a link to this post that will take you to that Saridakis letter

  14. We are in a digital age. We have no digital leadership. Sounds about right.

  15. The anti-Saridakis comments here help explain why Gannett isn't succeeding. Management is unable to appreciate:

    * someone who is willing to try to improve things, but who may crack sacred cows along the way;

    * that management didn't allow him to complete his work;

    * why it's important for management to mix with salaried employees;

    * why it's notable that people may consider Saridakis a visionary -- even if it may not be true;

    Saridakis is clearly an intelligent person with exceptional ideas and good management and execution skills. But he may not have stood out so much if he had been working at at other big companies like Virgin Group, Amazon, Bloomberg or News Corp. It's the mediocre Gannett bubble that produced such a dramatic contrast.

  16. One of the smartest and nicest leaders I have had the opportunity to work with. Chris "gets it". Aside from building great businesses, he has a unique ability to find, hire and motivate employees. Rumors that he hire five sales reps from Pointroll have been confirmed. Just look at his background. Every company he started or joined, he always had a core set of folks that he trusts and employs.

    If the Gannett Board was smart, they would have thrown Dubow out and put Saridakis in as the CEO.

  17. I agree that Chris was smart, but he could be as big a jerk as the rest of the GMC. Maybe not to Pointroll or Gannett Digital employees, but to those of us who weren't a part of his empire, I can assure you that he treated us like dirt.

  18. I just read Saridakis' farewell letter again and I have to say, this guy is 1) absolutely correct, 2) definitely missed here, and 3) got the biggest set of balls.

    Seriously, this letter isn't from some staff employee, it was written by a very successful entrepreneur who had a seat at the big Executive Gannett table. Everyone should re-read it. For people like me, still employed at Gannett, Saridakis's advice and opinions are dead on accurate.

    This guy should be the CEO of this place. We have such a bunch of losers at the top.


Jim says: "Proceed with caution; this is a free-for-all comment zone. I try to correct or clarify incorrect information. But I can't catch everything. Please keep your posts focused on Gannett and media-related subjects. Note that I occasionally review comments in advance, to reject inappropriate ones. And I ignore hostile posters, and recommend you do, too."

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