In a rather surprising timing, the longtime CEO of TheStreet.com (NSDQ: TSCM) Thomas Clarke is leaving the company, it was announced this morning. Board member Daryl Otte will serve as interim CEO while the company searches for a permanent replacement. Otte, founding partner of VC firm Montefiore Partners, has served as a director since 2001. Clarke will vacate his position on March 21, and will get 12 months in severance pay, along with payment for his stock options, among others.
He had been the CEO of the company for the last 9.5 years, and came at a time when the company was trying to move beyond just being founder and chairman Jim Cramer, in the middle of the first internet bubble burst. During his tenure, the company moved from being a subscription focused site to a mix of ad and premium, added more products (and the very strange and disastrous launch of MainStreet.com), and then did a series of strange acquisitions (Corsis?) in the last two years. Cramer came back as the chairman of TheStreet.com in October after the company posted quarterly earnings that fell well short of expectations.
The move was meant for Clarke to focus on the company during these difficult economic times and do a cost review. It had done some layoffs and closed its San Francisco bureau as part of this review last year. Also in January, Jay Hoag, the long-time general partner of PE/VC firm Technology Crossover Ventures, quit the board…a year ago TCV invested $55 million in TSCM in exchange for a minority stake in the company..
And while the traffic numbers for the sites within TSCM’s portfolio have gone way up during the current economic crisis, that hasn’t translated into revenues, as evidenced by its Q408 earnings report.
This move comes as Cramer continues to be embroiled in controversies around his role as a commentator on CNBC leading to this current economic crisis. Will this also mean TSCM finally gets sold?