Co-founder Dan Siroker is stepping down as the CEO of Optimizely. He’s handing the role over to Jay Larson, who was previously CEO at Birst, as well as an executive at Mercury Interactive and Success Factors.
“Optimizely is uniquely positioned to help every company use experimentation to increase the revenue generated by customer facing applications,” Larson said in the announcement. “Same systems, same cost, more revenue and immediate ROI. This is what we deliver. We’re powering the digital revolution.”
In a blog post, Siroker wrote that he will remain involved in Optimizely as co-founder and executive chairman, specifically managing the design, engineering and product management team.
“I will NOT serve as a figurehead with little operational responsibility,” Siroker said. At the same time, he noted that “there can only be one CEO,” and he said, “That person is Jay, not me. Jay is ultimately accountable for our performance as a company, and to that end, I will do everything I can to make him successful.”
Optimizely was founded in 2009 by Siroker and Pete Koomen. Before starting the company, Siroker worked as the head of analytics for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, and Optimizely built technology in a similar vein, helping businesses test different versions of their websites and apps. The company has now raised $146 million in funding and, as part of today’s announcement, says it’s grown to $90 million in annual recurring revenue.
So why make the change at the top? Siroker said it was time to hire someone with experience building big enterprise software companies, and he pointed to a study showing (among other things) that startups seem to be more valuable when the founder willingly relinquishes control of their job as CEO and control over the board of directors.