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Dmexco Conference Organizer Fires Its Co-Founders

  • The organizers of the Digital Marketing Exposition & Conference (Dmexco) have abruptly parted ways with the conference’s co-founders, Christian Muche and Frank Schneider.

    In a memo dated Nov. 2, the conference’s organizer, Koelnmesse, extended its partnership with the show’s trademark holder, the German Association for the Digital Economy (Bundesverband Digitale Wirtschaft or BVDW), and cut ties with Muche and Schneider and their consulting group, KM Digital Marketing Events.

    Koelnmesse and BVDW have partnered since Dmexco’s first event in 2009. Since then, Koelnmesse claims the number of exhibitors has grown by more than 300 percent, and the conference drew 40,700 trade fair visitors to its 2017 show.

    “For Koelnmesse, this creates a solid foundation for a continued successful future”, Gerald Böse, CEO of Koelnmesse, said in a statement. “As a central advocate for the digital economy, the BVDW is an indispensable source of inspiration for the event.”

    Koelnmesse’s memo made no further mention of Schneider and Muche, who, over the years, had become the bonafide faces of Dmexco.

    The German publication Horizont reported Muche and Schneider were alleged to have “violated substantial contractual agreements,” possibly related to conflicts with the co-founders’ digital Dpulse conference in Switzerland.

    Muche and Schneider have since issued a statement dismissing the breach-of-contract allegations and said they’d address the claims legally, Horizont reported Friday.

    Koelnmesse issued a second memo on Friday, reinforcing the end of its contractual agreement with Muche and Schneider’s consulting firm, adding their responsibilities would be “reassigned” in the weeks ahead.

    The memo also hinted at adding more conference programming geared toward the German market.

    “Koelnmesse and the BVDW will continue to write this success story and to stage this international business platform for the most important decision-makers of the global digital economy – without neglecting the German market,” it read.

    Over the years, Dmexco increasingly drew speakers from the digital world stage, including Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and WPP CEO Martin Sorrell, NBC's Ad Sales Chairman Linda Yaccarino and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.

    The show evolved into a “must-attend” on the global advertising conference circuit, along with Cannes Lions and CES.

    Time will tell whether the expo’s current bench of organizers will continue that momentum.

    Koelnmesse declined to comment beyond its statement.

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