SpinVox: Patricia Russo joins and immediately leaves, new CFO appointed

A number of significant developments have emerged today in the SpinVox saga. Andrew Orlowski at the Register broke the story this afternoon that former Alcatel-Lucent CEO Patricia Russo joined the firm as a director on 2 June 2009, only to leave on 10 August. Russo is one of the most high-profile business women in the US and would have been a terrific asset to SpinVox given her experience and connections in the telecoms industry. But she left as quickly (and quietly) as she had arrived. Why?

Meanwhile, word reaches us that SpinVox finally has a CFO: John Botts, who has been on the board of directors since August 2006. SpinVox has had no CFO since August 2008, when Andrew Cherry left. SpinVox has a high turnover of financial staff: since June 2008, two high-level executives have come and gone. How long will Botts stick it? More to the point, why has Botts taken the role at all? He’s a high-powered banker and deal-maker, far too experienced to be CFO of a start-up. One source we just spoke to commented that John Botts coming in as CFO “is like Mandelson coming in as Deputy PM. Botts is semi-retired!” So what’s going on?

Here’s a pie chart (via paidContent:uk) of SpinVox’s equity split, as of July 8. It shows Christina Domecq holding 16.93% of the company’s shares.

You can add these revelations to the growing number of resignations at SpinVox from staff further down the food chain. Each one seems to be accompanied by cryptic remarks:


Update: SpinVox has been in touch via its PR firm, Brunswick, to deny that Botts is performing any sort of official financial function at the company. Eh? More when we have it.