BackFence CEO Resigns Amid Downsizing
BackFence CEO and cofounder Susan DeFife has resigned from the company, amid a major downsizing. Co-founder Mark Potts will serve as the company’s interim leader as the company looks to solve what he calls “BackFence 2.0.” Potts initially said that “roughly” 12 of 18 employees were let go, but now says that his estimate — made after 3 months away from the company — was inaccurate. He said the company won’t be revealing specific employee information.
DeFife says she will join VPs Amanda Graham and Bob Kelly to form a consulting team that will focus on reach, engagement and “getting high CPMs” from local businesses. She notes that Backfence has built 13 sites in three metro area (D.C., Chicago and Bay Area), sold 550 ads to local businesses since April 2006, and got 2 percent of community members to register in its most mature communities (i.e., Reston, McLean and Bethesda).
“Ultimately, we did not share the same strategic vision for the company as the board of directors,” says DeFife. BackFence had received $3 million in funding from SAS Investors, the Omidyar Network and several D.C.-area investors back in October 2005.
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This failure to see eye-to-eye is unfortunate and the company will suffer because of it. The departure of Susan DeFife will likely set things back a bit in terms of the company’s strategic direction. It has grown a great deal over the past 18 months and in my mind the question of whether or not a hyper-local destination strategy is sustainable was to be seen from Backfence’s success metrics. It will now be harder to isolate these variables, although something can be gleaned from the apparent cash flow problems the company has faced. It will be interesting to see where it goes from here. A more sustainable hyper-local strategy may be in an aggregation strategy (i.e. placeblogger )
Mediavidea has a related article. Perhaps we expeted too much from local news sites.
The blog article asks: http://mediavidea.blogspot.com/2007/01/where-is-money-in-local-news-sites.html where is the money in local news blogs?