Posted by: Rob Hof on May 24, 2005
Jeremy Zawodny at Yahoo! had the rumors first, but I just confirmed them: Scott Sassa is out as CEO of the social networking company as of June 13, after less than a year on the job. He’ll stay on for the summer to help the transition to the new CEO, Taek Kwon, currently executive VP of product and technology at Interactive Corp.’s Citysearch.com. Also, Friendster laid off five people from its staff of 55.
What’s up? The site’s spokeswoman, Carleen LeVasseur, said Sassa’s a businessman who managed to craft a strategy that offers potential for profits. But the company decided that now the focus needs to be on developing new technology to create a better experience, and that’s Kwon’s expertise.
Can’t say I’m entirely surprised at this turn of events. Although it claims 16 million members, Friendster seems to have lost steam some time ago to newer sites such as MySpace and Thefacebook. Then there was that unfortunate tie-in with the Pamela Anderson TV show Stacked. Celsius Capital VC Bill Burnham recently offered some other reasons, too. I don’t think it’s hopeless. But man, it’s tough to restore lost cool, and I’m not sure even the whizziest technology will do the trick.
UPDATE: Despite earlier intimations by the company that Friendster’s profitable, it’s not yet in the black.