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Urban Airship CEO Steps Down Amid Sexual Assault Allegations

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Scott Kveton, the co-founder and CEO of push notification company Urban Airship, has stepped down amid allegations of sexual assault. In a memo sent to employees, and also posted here on the Urban Airship website, Kveton writes that he had been considering leaving the company for a while, and an exec search firm was already looking for his replacement. However, this situation accelerated his decision to leave, he says.

“When the story about my personal situation was published last Wednesday, it became clear that my transition timing needed to accelerate,” Kveton says in the memo. “So effective immediately, I am going on an extended leave of absence to focus on resolving this situation. I care way too much about Urban Airship to try to resolve this issue and simultaneously lead the company. You deserve someone who has complete focus on the business without distraction.”

CFO Mike Templeton will be interim CEO in Kveton’s absence or until a replacement can be made.

News of the sexual assault investigation came out earlier this month. A lengthy report from The Oregonian details the accusations made by Kveton’s former girlfriend, who has now provided police with hundreds of pages of texts, emails and online chats that paint a picture of a complicated relationship between her and the technology company’s founder. The woman, whose name is withheld because she’s claiming to be a victim of sexual assault, had charged Kveton twice in years prior, The Oregonian reported, but prosecutors declined to charge him at those times.

Portland police are now investigating several accusations by the former girlfriend, dating back to 2012 and 2013. That investigation is still underway, but no charges have been filed at this time.

One of the more high-profile startups to emerge out of Portland’s tech scene, Urban Airship was undergoing changes of its own before news of the CEO’s exit hit.

Last month, for example, the company announced a change in strategy that saw it discontinuing the free Developer Edition product in order to focus more on larger, paying customers.

Below is Kveton’s full memo:

Almost every startup founder dreams that one day their company will outgrow their ability to effectively lead it. The skills that it takes to navigate the stormy early days are completely different than what it takes to plan, execute, develop, and expand a large, fast-growing enterprise. It is a very rare person that makes the leap between these stages, and often times attempts to do so compromise that very company’s ability to get it right.

It hit me a few months ago that it was time for me to step aside. I met with our board of directors in June and told them I felt it was time to start looking for Urban Airship’s next CEO. They agreed, and we selected an executive search firm to start the process, which has been underway for a few weeks now.

These decisions are bittersweet. You never really know how it’s going to feel to hand over the reigns, but you are excited about the potential you’ll unlock by getting the right person in place.

When the story about my personal situation was published last Wednesday, it became clear that my transition timing needed to accelerate. So effective immediately, I am going on an extended leave of absence to focus on resolving this situation. I care way too much about Urban Airship to try to resolve this issue and simultaneously lead the company. You deserve someone who has complete focus on the business without distraction.

The company is continuing to grow amazingly well. We just wrapped up another spectacular quarter both in financial growth and in product performance, handling the massive World Cup surge amazingly well. We now have a world-class executive team in place. In fact, my role lately has primarily been to get out of their way.

Effective immediately, our CFO Mike Temple will become interim CEO, so you are all in stable and experienced hands while the search for a new CEO continues. With the rest of the executive team at his side, the transition should be as smooth as it could ever hope to be. The board of directors is also completely committed to the continuing success of the company and will be both more accessible and visible throughout this transition.

I can honestly say that Michael, Steven, Adam and I never expected that our entrepreneurial efforts to simplify the management of these new mobile messages called “push notifications” would grow to become such an amazing entity, serving the biggest and best brands in the world. I appreciate every single employee who helped build the company, and every customer who had faith in us along the way.

Thanks for the ride we have all shared. The view from the Airship has been amazing and the horizon holds fantastic promise.