SocialText, a wiki startup based in Palo Alto, is looking for a new CEO. Founder and current CEO Ross Mayfield wrote a post on his personal blog today, saying the company is looking for a new leader to “take it to the next level.”
I spoke to Ross for a few minutes this evening. He says he’s really good at the early stage and externally focused stuff – marketing, strategy, fundraising, etc. He’s looking for someone to complement those skills – a seasoned CEO who has experience growing a company through later stage hurdles and, particularly, to streamline operations. Ross will stay on as Chairman and president of SocialText.
Many companies go through this – the type of person who can make something out of absolutely nothing and get a startup off the ground often doesn’t have the skills or desire to manage the growth phase of a company. Ross also started SocialText in 2002 – and guided it through the very dark days of the downturn. I don’t blame him for looking for a partner to help him move the company forward. He’s been at this for five years and probably needs a break.
I also think SocialText is going about this the right way, with an up-front blog post saying exactly what they intend to do. Compare this to how Technorati handled their CEO search, which was done in secret and eventually leaked because the executive search firm tasked with finding the executive sent out the document to one too many bloggers. They weren’t able to control, or even contribute to, the messaging, and by the time CEO Dave Sifry confirmed the search a lot of damage had already been done to the company.
JotSpot, a competitor, was acquired by Google in late 2006.