Sep 16 2009

Another Only Once Moment, Sort Of

Another Only Once Moment, Sort Of

I’ve never handed over the reins of a company before (no, I’m not leaving, and we aren’t selling Return Path).  But I did the other day, for the first time.  As many people know, last year we reorganized the company to focus entirely on deliverability and whitelisting and spun out Authentic Response, a company in the online market research business, into a completely separate entity. 

Since then, I have been CEO of both companies.  Although Return Path has had more of my focus — Authentic Response had excellent day-to-day leadership under Co-Presidents Jeff Mattes and Rob Mattes — I’ve still been working in both businesses.

Today, we officially announced the hiring of my replacement, Jim Follett.  Jim was formerly CEO of Survey Sampling, a larger company in the online market research business, and has over 20 years of prior experience as a senior executive in market research and information services companies.  While we still share the office in New York and I will stay on as Chairman, the percentage of time I can now devote to Return Path is now 100% — the first time it’s ever been that way (for the deliverability business).

I didn’t start Authentic Response, and I’ve never been deep in the bones of the business the way I am Return Path.  Even so, I definitely experienced a range of emotions at our all-hands meeting where we introduced Jim to the company that I don’t regularly experience at the same time:  mainly a mix of pride in the work the team has done on my watch, excitement for the business, and sadness at not working quite as closely with the nearly 100 people in Authentic Response going forward.

I’m sure someday, I will hand over the reins to Return Path.  No time soon, but that day eventually comes for every entrepreneur.  If this was a preview, it will be an emotional day.

But for now, I’m mainly happy to welcome Jim to the family, and I’m excited for the entire Authentic Response business as it embarks on the next chapter in the company’s journey.