Federated Media Publishing’s CEO, Deanna Brown, is stepping down to be replaced by the person she replaced herself — chairman, founder and former CEO John Battelle. Brown joined FMP in 2009 to take the media company “to the next level.”
In a blog post, Battelle says Brown came to him earlier this year saying she wanted “to move on and do something smaller and more directly related to content creation.” Though the two initially tried to think of a candidate to replace Brown, Battelle eventually decided to come back to full time work at the company he founded in 2005. Brown isn’t yet talking about her next venture but said that news would be forthcoming in a couple of weeks.
Battelle Changes His Mind
Though Battelle originally brought Brown in to be an experienced executive to grow the company, he now says he’s changed his mind and believes he has the passion and knowledge to take the helm again.
Under Brown, FMP diversified its offerings and operations away from its origins as a “conversational media” network representing top-trafficked blogs and social media sites. The company’s most dramatic shift was signaled by its acquisition of Lijit Networks in 2011, as well as the purchase of TextDigger technology in 2010. With those assets, the company began to explore programmatic opportunities and grow the number of properties upon which it could place ads.
With that evolution also came a shift that got a lot of industry-watchers talking in late 2012 — the abandonment of the direct sales of banner ads, which resulted in layoffs of 24 employees, less than 10% of the company’s staffers. The change was meant to allow the company to use programmatic solutions for standard banner ads, while, on the other hand, crafting customized, native integrations for larger clients.
The Media Company Of Tomorrow
“I am utterly convinced that the media company of tomorrow will have both a technology-driven programmatic foundation, as well as the ability to execute bespoke, beautiful ideas on behalf of the entire media ecosystem – creators, marketers, and communities,” wrote Battelle in today’s blog post.
In January, the company crowed about becoming the third-largest US ad network and the fourth largest display ad player in the world, after comScore released its December 2012 report. At that time, FMP said it reached 193 million unique visitors monthly in the US, representing over 87% of American Internet users.
Brown’s departure will likely be seen as an unsettling development, as Battelle has been seen as a visionary ideas guy, rather than a hands-on manager. That said, under Brown, the company gained several notable executives, including Walter Knapp, currently the EVP of Platform Revenue and Operations at FMP, who joined with the Lijit Networks acquisition.
Disclosure: I was an employee of Federated Media Publishing for several years and remain a shareholder.