Cella Irvine has stepped down as CEO of ad tech company Vibrant Media, according to a source with knowledge of the company.
I emailed and called Vibrant earlier this evening, but I haven’t heard back yet. (I did manage to speak to someone at Vibrant for a few seconds, but they immediately transferred me to a spokesperson who didn’t pick up.) (Update: Vibrant just confirmed the news. You can see the full statement below.)
Irvine joined the company in October 2011. She previously served as the CEO at the New York Times’ About Group (The Times later sold About.com to IAC) and as Chief Administrative Officer at ad agency Digitas.
When Irvine took on the role, she was replacing co-founder Doug Stevenson, who had stepped down. According to a report in AdAge last fall, Vibrant has been profitable for several years with revenue of more than $100 million.
My source told that revenue has actually fallen below $100 million, though it has held relatively steady after the initial dip. The board has apparently been frustrated by the lack of growth and perhaps the fact that Vibrant hasn’t gone public (which Stevenson was hinting at back in 2010).
Is that actually Irvine’s fault? Maybe not. These could be the inherent difficulties facing an ad company that isn’t exactly young anymore (Vibrant, which remains best-known for those online in-text ads that appear when you mouse over certain words, was founded in 2000). And the company seemed to be pretty active while Irvine was in charge, acquiring startup Image Space Media and also launching a number of new ad units, including its first aimed specifically at smartphones and tablets.
Update: A Vibrant spokesperson just sent me the following statement:
Yes, we can confirm that Cella Irvine is leaving Vibrant. Craig Gooding will be leading a newly created Office of the Chairman. Vibrant’s founder and chairman, Craig invented Vibrant’s signature in-text technology and has managed the company through explosive growth in recent years. He knows the business exceptionally well and is very well positioned to continue to lead the new management team.
I’ve also heard from another source that Vibrant is not conducting a search for a new CEO, at least not yet.