Mihir Shah Is Out As Tapjoy CEO in Surprise Shake-Up. Former Disney Exec Wadsworth Steps In.

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In a surprise shake-up at mobile app marketing company Tapjoy, CEO Mihir Shah resigned today while a former Disney executive Steve Wadsworth stepped in.

There was an all-hands meeting at around 11 a.m. this morning and Mark Leschley, who is now chairman of the board, introduced Wadsworth. Shah wasn’t present. Wadsworth had been at Disney for 17 years, working on the company’s digital media and technology business, and he oversaw the company’s roughly $700 million acquisition of social gaming company Playdom.

Shah originally came into Tapjoy after leading monetization efforts at an early social gaming company RockYou. He presided over Tapjoy as it shifted its business model from the Facebook platform to Android and iOS. The company had been in on-and-off M&A discussions with a number of bigger gaming companies over the past year including GREE, but none of those conversations resulted in a deal.

Tapjoy had raised more than $70 million in venture capital from J.P. Morgan Asset Management, Rho Ventures, North Bridge Venture Partners, InterWest Partners and D.E. Shaw Ventures in multiple rounds and in its previous incarnation as Offerpal. So any deal would have probably had to be around a half-billion dollars, which might be hard for an acquirer to swallow considering the company’s historical problems with platform risk.

Last year, the company was on a roughly $100 million runrate doing cross-promotion and incentivized installs for apps on Android and iOS. After Apple clamped down on incentivized downloads where players get virtual currency for downloading different games, the company had to shift to Android.

Apparently, the Android business — while difficult at first — is finally starting to take off for a host of companies with similar models. Tapjoy’s closest rival Flurry, recently raised a late-stage $25 million round, on the back of video ads for apps on Android and iOS. A source close to the company told me a few weeks ago that the company was likely on a $180 million runrate for this year. But keep in mind that a huge part of that revenue is paid back out to publishing partners.

Here’s the release:

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 27, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — The Board of Directors of Tapjoy, Inc. (www.tapjoy.com), a leading mobile and advertising platform, today announced that Steve Wadsworth, the former president of Disney Interactive Media Group and a current Tapjoy Director, has been named President and CEO of the company. The Board also announced the resignation of Mihir Shah as President and CEO. The change is effective immediately.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20120731/LA49747LOGO)

Wadsworth has been an influential senior executive and leader in the Internet and interactive digital media industry since 1995. Wadsworth spent 17 years at The Walt Disney Company where he was a pioneer for the company’s digital media and technology business including more than 11 years as Disney’s chief Internet and digital media executive.

In his most recent role, Wadsworth served as president of Disney Interactive Media Group (DIMG), the interactive entertainment segment of The Walt Disney Company. During his tenure, Wadsworth led DIMG’s global creation and delivery of entertainment and lifestyle content across digital and interactive media platforms, including mobile devices, Internet, video game consoles, and social media platforms.

“Tapjoy sits in the epicenter of an incredibly exciting growth industry and is very well positioned to take advantage of future growth,” said Mark Leschly, Chairman, Tapjoy Board of Directors. “Tapjoy has scaled dramatically over the past two years, and we are very excited and fortunate to have someone with Steve’s management credentials and deep technology and entertainment industry expertise to lead Tapjoy through our next phase of growth. Steve has had a unique opportunity to work closely with our senior management team since joining the Board. He will ensure that this is a seamless transition for all of Tapjoy’s customers and employees as we continue to drive the growth and product innovation we are known for.

“The Board would also like to acknowledge Mihir’s contributions to the firm during his tenure as CEO and thank him for helping the company transition from its start-up phase to a market leading growth company,” continued Mr. Leschly.

“I’m extremely excited to be joining Tapjoy and the incredible team of talented, committed people who have built this dynamic company, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to lead Tapjoy through our next stage of growth,” said Mr. Wadsworth. “Tapjoy is a unique and compelling company whose innovation has created a robust model for mobile app discovery and monetization, serving the needs of publishers and advertisers. I’m honored to be part of the team, and I look forward to the opportunity.”

Before joining The Walt Disney Company in 1993, Wadsworth was a principal for the Windsor Park Group in Los Angeles, an investment, acquisition and consulting firm focused on the retail and consumer products industries.

About Tapjoy
Tapjoy is a mobile advertising and monetization platform whose Mobile Value Exchange model allows users to select personalized advertisements with which to engage for virtual rewards or premium content. Tapjoy helps unlock mobile joy by empowering users on more than 1 billion devices to watch videos, subscribe to services, install applications and participate in other types of advertisements in exchange for virtual rewards they can use in their favorite apps. Tapjoy’s turnkey in-app advertising platform helps developers to cost-effectively acquire high-value new users and monetize their applications, while its powerful advertising marketplace lets brand advertisers reach a global mobile audience spanning more than 73,000 applications. Tapjoy is backed by top-tier investors, including J.P. Morgan Asset Management, Rho Ventures, North Bridge Venture Partners, InterWest Partners and D.E. Shaw Ventures. Headquartered in San Francisco, the company also has offices in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Santa Barbara, Atlanta, Boston, Paris, Dusseldorf, London, Beijing, Shanghai, Seoul and Tokyo. For more information, please visit http://www.tapjoy.com.

© 2012 Tapjoy, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Tapjoy and the Tapjoy logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Tapjoy, Inc. All third party logos and trademarks mentioned are the property of their respective owners.