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Rakuten-Owned Buy.com CEO Neel Grover, COO Greg Giraudi Step Down [Memo]

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A changing of the guard at Buy.com, which was bought by Japan’s Rakuten in May 2010. Long-serving executives CEO/president Neel Grover and COO Greg Giraudi are stepping down from their roles, effective September 1. Grover had been instrumental behind the sale of the e-commerce site to the Japanese giant for $250 million.

The memo does not make clear why the pair are leaving, but it coincides with the two-year mark since the Buy.com sale closed, so it may be connected to an earn-out. It may also be a sign of Rakuten strengthening its control of operations at Buy.com as it ramps up its activities in the U.S. That has included leading a $100 million, strategic investment in Pinterest in May this year.

In an internal memo (below), Grover notes that both Grover and Giraudi “will be pursuing some other professional interests.” But Grover, who has been with Buy.com since 2003, will stay on as a member of the board of Buy.com and of Rakuten USA, as well as chairman of yet-to-launch boutique fashion marketplace VANITI, which is backed by Rakuten.

Grover does not say who will take the role of CEO in September — if anyone at all (it’s not mentioned one way or the other).

But he notes that the company will continue on the same “path” he established, and there have been people appointed to the other roles: Roger Andelin, who had once been CIO of Buy.com, will take over as President and CTO. Andelin is coming from I’m Inc., a social networking platform where he was CEO; before that he was head of technology for the Washington Post. Bernard Luthi, who is currently the CMO, will now also hold the title of COO.

Rakuten Buy.com Family,

I have decided after more than a decade here to transition my day-to-day duties as CEO and President effective September 1. I will continue to actively work with the Company as a member of the Rakuten Buy.com Board of Directors as well as Chairman of VANITI. I will also continue assisting Rakuten with their investments and acquisitions, as I will also become a Board Member of Rakuten USA.

Greg has also decided after nine years to transition his day-to-day duties as COO and General Counsel at the same time. Greg and I will be pursuing some other professional interests while also joining select Boards.

We have had long and deep relationships with this Company and most of you. You are a big part of our families and we will always care so much for all of you.

I want you to be very confident that Rakuten Buy.com is going to continue on the path we have started. I am very happy to announce that Roger Andelin, our former CIO, will take over as President and CTO. Roger was not only our CIO for 6 years, but he also was the President of our former subsidiary prior to its sale to Digital River and was more recently the head of technology for the Washington Post. In addition, Bernard Luthi will be promoted to COO in addition to his current role as CMO. Bernard has done a tremendous job with us and has held operational roles in his past at Newegg.

I am so proud of what we have collectively accomplished to date but there is still much more to be done. Hiroshi’s vision and passion for an empowering Marketplace is unmatched in the industry. We are fighting a good fight and need to continue to care about Merchants and each other. I am confident that Rakuten Buy.com’s strongest and brightest days are still to come and I look forward to contributing to all of your success in a different way.

Warm regards,
Neel