Hibu Fires Two ‘Disloyal’ Senior Execs

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The London Evening Standard is reporting that an attempt to engineer a buyout of Hibu’s U.S. operation (Yellowbook) is behind the recent dismissal of two senior Hibu U.S. executives.

In an internal memo last week, Hibu CEO Mike Pocock announced the termination of Yellowbook President Jim McCusker and Chief Publishing Officer Mark Cairns, citing conduct “that the company considered to be disloyal and against the interests of its employees and other stakeholders.” The memo did not offer any additional details, but Pocock did add that Hibu is contemplating further legal action against the two.

The Evening Standard’s Gideon Spanier reported this week that the firings occurred “amid speculation that they were plotting a buyout” of Yellowbook. A number of tenured Yellowbook executives have left in recent months, including Gary Shaw, the company’s longtime CTO.

Hibu, formerly Yell Group, operates directory and local search businesses in the UK, Spain, Latin America and the United States. All of the businesses are grappling with steep print declines as Hibu tries to find an effective strategy to transform the business from largely print to largely digital. Pocock came on board in 2011 with an ambitious agenda to change the business. In 2012, the company changed its name to Hibu.

Like many directory publishers worldwide, Hibu is struggling to transform itself while grappling with a large debt load. Last month the company said it was negotiating with lenders for another debt restructuring. Hibu’s debt totals roughly GBP 2 billion (US$3 billion), more than four times EBITDA for the 2012 financial year  (GBP 461 million).

Recent financial results haven’t made things easier for Hibu. For the quarter ending Dec. 31 (Hibu’s financial year ends March 31), total group revenues declined by 14 percent. Customer loss has been one of Hibu’s most troubling metrics. During the same quarter, the company lost 20 percent of its print and 7 percent of its online directory customers, from the same period a year ago. The company has made up some ground in digital services (e.g., websites), which grew revenue at a 31 percent clip and added customers at a 10 percent pace. Digital directory revenues, which remain the larger digital revenue component (60 percent), declined by 7 percent.

It may take a while to assess the fallout from the departure of McCusker and Cairns. Both were widely seen as popular figures within the Yellowbook culture, and provided a link to the company’s past leader, Joe Walsh, who left less than six months after Pocock took over. Bob Gregerson, who is currently CEO of Hibu US and the group’s chief commercial officer, will assume all of McCusker’s duties. All those who reported to Cairns will now report to COO Mike Payne.

This Post Has 22 Comments

  1. Bull Shit

    Jim McCusker is a man of integrity and in no way would compromise himself. This is a complete fabrication.

  2. Melbourne Painters

    Obviously the emotions are running high on this issue!

  3. 4clients_not hibu

    Couldn’t have happened to a better guy. Drove previous company into bankruptcy, doing same to hibu

  4. Bull Shit

    4Clients: You are obviously an idiot & have no clue regarding the business world. Hibu is a garbage company that is socially irresponsible. They wanted McCusker to terminate 3000 loyal employees.

  5. Media Consultant 0718

    Then why was Joe Walsh being sued in a NY supreme court for doing back alley deals? Who was he getting his insider info from? Could be his newly unemployed replacement. Strange that both EX presidents were fired for conduct un becoming.

  6. Media Consultant 0718

    Walsh and McCusker were both power hungry Napoleons. During a contentious meeting at which Walsh was asked to resign his position, he allegedly told Hibu’s general counsel and CEO Mike Pocock that “he would ‘burn down [Hibu]’ and ‘take every senior manager with him,” according to the lawsuit. Walsh also allegedly said during the meeting, “Do you have any idea who I am? I am Joe Walsh. Do you know who David Beckham is? I am to [Hibu] who David Beckham is to the L.A. Galaxy,” the lawsuit said. Dont for one second think that Walsh and Mccusker werent talking about running Yellow Book themselves by bringing in private investors. Wouldnt be the first time and wont be the last. Bottom line is books are dead and they need to move on. Hibu will realize that eventually same as superpages did, hense they’re merge with DEX another online IYP company

  7. Customer

    I’ve been affected by the lack of book distribution! My question is, HOW does a book physically get to each and every home? WHO physically delivers the books to each door?
    With plummeting use of the Yellowbook physically being used, most searches are now done on Google, Bing, MSN or Yahoo, WHY then, does Yellowbook make up fictitious numbers of the physical use when they can’t really tell you WHO is delivering the books? Question…. WHAT company \actually\ prints the book? and WHAT company is \actually\ contracted to make the delivery??
    How many books are actually printed nationwide? and how many total books are printed for the year nationwide?

  8. Customer

    I’ve been affected by the lack of book distribution! My question is, HOW does a book physically get to each and every home? WHO physically delivers the books to each door?
    With plummeting use of the Yellowbook physically being used, most searches are now done on Google, Bing, MSN or Yahoo, WHY then, does Yellowbook make up fictitious numbers of the physical use when they can’t really tell you WHO is delivering the books? Question…. WHAT company “actually” prints the book? and WHAT company is “actually” contracted to make the delivery??
    How many books are actually printed nationwide? and how many total books are printed for the year nationwide?

  9. Customer

    Our company made a nationwide buy from YellowBook. YellowBook states they distribute 100 million books a year. We bought 6+ Ads. Therefore, we should have had 600 million ads nationwide per year, yet, we ONLY received 18k leads, which is ONLY 18k phone calls per year! What is wrong with this picture?!! Can someone tell me what the problem is here?? Who distributes the book and how many books “actually” get delivered to a door within a year?

  10. Spuds Mckee

    I worked under Walsh and McCusker, viewed them as being unethical and never trusted them!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Fran Webber

    YellowBook USA was a awesome company!… until they moved to King of Prussia, PA and started a partnership with a UK based company called PindarSet. PindarSet is a company that takes pride in sending American jobs to Bangalore, India. Once PindarSet began allowing people that do not understand the english language properly, the advertisements in their directories started to suffer tremendously. I have seen Italian Restaurant advertisements with pictures of Chicken Lo Mein in it because they people in Bangalore, India didn’t understand that when the customer requested a picture of noodles for a Italian Restaurant required something more along the line of Spaghetti. This type of mistake is rampant in YellowBook USA/YellowBook/hibu. The management at PindarSet and YellowBook USA/YellowBook/hibu (or whatever they call themselves now) is the worst management I have ever seen. They care nothing about their employees or customers. All they want to do is make money. This is understandable with a large company, but this company wants to make money at your expense. When you look at the economy and the unemployment you should look at companies that love giving American jobs to Bangalore, India. Companies like YellowBook USA/YellowBook/hibu and Pindar Set. They are a scourge on the American people.

  12. Fran Webber

    YellowBook AntiUSA changes its name so much because they screw up all the time and hope that if they change the name you will think it is a different, more competent company. It never is a different, more competent company but instead the same lying, cheating, America hating, greedy company it has been since the move to King of Prussia.

  13. Fran Webber

    Kudos to the two disloyal employees. They were probably really fired for being honest with customers. That is a big no no at hibu/YellowBook/YellowBook AntiUSA.

  14. Ex Top Rep

    In my 14+ years with YellowBook/HIBU I saw many great changes and many poor decisions made by management. Overall, I felt Joe Walsh cared deeply for the company and it’s employees. He was very approachable and worked hard to improve our market share versus print giants like DEX, Verizon and AT&T to name a few. Jim McKusker trying to buyout US was likely an attempt to save the company before they went down in flames!

    The past several years saw the company become top heavy with management and less emphasis on quality sales, poor product testing and an overall decline on client focused services. I agree with most negative comments made by others however the real problem comes back to a simple fact: consumers aren’t getting information from directories or IYP websites. Consumers generally go to the best sources of information like Google, BING and product sites like Amazon, Overstock and others. The last 5 years I sold for HIBU, I did not use the yellow pages a single time for any reason! The product is simply obsolete!

  15. Former Regional Manager

    I worked at Yellowbook / Hibu for over 11 years and a different publisher for 7 years prior to that. . Last March “my position was eliminated”. This happens to be the exact same month that Mike Pocock gave himself a $160,000 raise. When Joe Walsh ran Yellowbook USA things were great! Joe is a genuine, natural leader. Jim is also a great leader. Yellowbook started it’s demise with the departure of Joe and took an even steeper drop with the firing of Jim. Mike Pocock? Really? The same Mike Pocock that nearly drove Polaroid in the ground while personally walking away with millions? Ludicrous! This guy should be in jail!

  16. Past manager

    I worked for Yellowbook for 12 years. I learned that Joe Walsh was nothing but a FAKE! He had the ability to con many. He was not loyal and not trustworthy. At first he was great, then developed the big head! Jim McCusker was a cocky car salesman. The company lost sight of the human factor (those who helped build the business). They who took down other are learning the true meaning of “you reap what you sew”. Yellow page industry is dead!

  17. D B

    You notice that a majority if the comments come from people who are no
    Longer here, who cares, go away and keep taking your orders at McDonalds

  18. Ropo

    Paalease. I was a manager in one of their bigger markets. My bosses were former McCleod managers who had previously worked for small independent yp companies. They were little Hitlers. I ted.how they treated people. Idiots making big money. And McCusksr was a used car salesman. Snake oil. It doesn’t work.

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  20. Jimmy No Talent Shady

    I love this stuff.. Jim Mccusker was a one year wonder as a sales rep and went management because he knew that was the path for someone who lacked real talent and effort.. He forged sigs to get sales in an era where they were seeding books.. Meaning giving away ad space in hopes they would see value after that year and possibly spend money the next year. Too be fair to Jim he was a no talent used car salesman before he joined Donnelly which later became YB.. Jim McCusker would rise to District Manager in Philly where he let shady things slide to win a Presidents award trip.. it was here that he started using his power to sleep with the 20 something’s that worked for him. Yes, I can give names Jim! Since you are posting here clearly not as yourself… YB really became a good ole boys network with each exec having dirt on the other… I love seeing these post that Jim was popular. Actually, Jim was the only one that thought he was popular.. everyone I know called him a sleazy unethical person.. Joe Walsh too! Jim would come to different offices to speak and everyone would roll their eyes and joke at how every presentation he gave would always take a turn and spotlight himself.. Anyway, the Yellowbook leadership who is now mostly gone is gone for a reason.. They enriched themselves, screwed over the thousands of loyal employees, screwed over the advertisers and steered every company they ran towards bankruptcy.. Good reddens boys!

  21. former YB USA Employee

    I worked at YB USA in its hey day, and saw the rise of “Jimmy”. It used to be a great company. We did a lot of fun things, and looked forward to work everyday. Someone wrote it was the ‘good ole boys’, well that was true, and you knew it, and you knew who was one of ” Jimmy’s boys” too. They rose through management with little skill. Certain outside reps were fired for having a DUI’s, while others in the club were promoted to an inside sales management stint, while waiting their licenses to be restored after the suspension for the DUI. We all knew it, but the money was great. Some of the best money I’ve ever made, and some of the best friends and co workers I’ve ever had. Maybe they were trying to do a takeover, they had invested alot of time and energy into Yellow Book USA and maybe that is what drove them to do the things they did. I’m sad to hear this, but I did hear that ” Jimmy” is working side by side by one of the top sales reps of YellowBook in the country when I was there; being a Yellow Book employee is kind of like that. Almost like a sorority or fraternity. Take care of your own. Wish them only the best.. but I am sad to read about this if this is how their Yellow Book careers ended.

  22. jayjay

    Wow, this is juicy stuff. Found this article while searching for info on Dex Media – the stock jumped 58% today. Tomorrow could be one fun roller coaster ride.

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