CEO Bill Demas Is Out At Turn

bill-demas-turnTurn is making some changes at the top.

Bill Demas, CEO of the scaled demand-side platform, will exit the company in what is being characterized as a mutual decision between him and the board. Demas told employees on Wednesday that he will stay on long enough for the company to identify a successor and that he will remain on the board, according to marketing SVP Paul Alfieri.

Additionally, product SVP Joshua Koran has been let go. His last day was Wednesday. Engineering SVP Ali Dasdan will take over the product organization, Alfieri said.

A source familiar with the company said Turn has been spending at a rapid clip since it raised $80 million in January 2014, at a valuation of around $650 million. Despite successes selling into agency and marketer organizations, the company is not profitable.

Since that round 14 months ago, the investor community has soured on ad tech – or some corners of it anyway. Fundraising has become more difficult for buy-side platform companies such as ad networks and demand-side platforms, forcing management teams into a profitability push.

Rocket Fuel is the primary emblem of this trend. After telling investors in Q1 that it would seek more efficiency in its operations, the company conducted a big round of layoffs this week, dismissing 129 employees or about 11% of its staff in a bid to shave annual operating costs by $30 million. The headcount reduction followed a wave of exec departures, including CEO George John, EVP John Nardone and VP of global partnerships David Skinner.

Meanwhile DSP Triggit, a much smaller company than either Turn or Rocket Fuel, sold to Gravity4 last month after burning through the last of its cash with no financing prospects in sight. It's a very different situation, but points to the same basic market reality.

"If you're an investor, you've been in this thing a long time and are still losing a lot of money," said one investment banker source with knowledge of the company's circumstances. "It's a reflection of the industry."

Turn disputes this narrative, saying it still has a substantial chunk of the money it raised 14 months ago and has achieved its growth projections for the first quarter. And it recently hired Wendy McGregor as chief revenue officer, its first c-level sales hire.

But meeting growth projections may not be enough in the current environment.

"Gravity is reasserting itself here," said a second investment banker source. "A few people have gotten struck by the Oracle/Google lightning bolt, but realization is setting in among all the others that they have to deliver profitability."

1 Comment

  1. It's strange and frustrating that many companies don't seem to care or understand profitability, especially since that's primary responsibility of the business.

    There are plenty of businesses that are focused on real sustainable growth by delivering actual innovation and value for clients. Hopefully now investors and the greater market will stop following the hype and start to back the real winners.

    Reply

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