Jason Tafler is stepping down as CEO of Gannett’s rich media provider Pointroll. Tafler made the announcement this morning, telling staffers in a memo that he plans to move back to Canada to be closer to his family. Tafler, who has been with the Conshohocken, PA-based company for five years, will be replaced by SVP of sales Robert Gatto.
Tafler succeeded Chris Saridakis as CEO of PointRoll when the latter was named SVP/CDO for Gannett as part of a major shakeup of its interactive services business in Jan. 2008.
Saridakis became CEO after serving as COO of Pointroll after founder Jules Gardner departed the company following the acquisition. At the time, Tafler was SVP-Global Business Operations & Strategy before being handed the CEO reins. As for Saridakis, he left Gannett to become CEO of GSI Commerce’s marketing services unit in April.
Gatto, a 25-year sales and marketing vet, spent eight years with ShopLocal, prior to its acquisition by Gannett and PointRoll. Before ShopLocal, Gatto held sales executive positions at Hyperion Solutions, the leader in financial analytics software and SPSS, Inc., the leading provider of predictive analytics and data mining software.
Although a number of execs were rumored to be leaving Pointroll once the installment payments on the earnouts from the $100 million acquisition came due at the end of the year, so far, it seems that the rest of the executive team will be staying on, including Sandy Dondici as COO, Catherine Spurway-Hepler as SVP of strategy & marketing, and Max Mead as VP of business development.
Updated: Tafler told paidContent that he will be taking a post as the digital head of a Rogers Media.
Ensuring a seamless transition after Tafler leaves was a major concern for Gannett (NYSE: GCI). In Q4, digital continued its double-digit rise, due mostly to Pointroll as well as the recovery at jobs site Careerbuilder. For the full year, Gannett’s total digital revenue was about $1 billion, which represents about 18.1 percent all of Gannett’s revenues and an 8 percent gain.
As the print business struggles and flagship USA Today tries to reinvent itself for an increasingly mobile audience, Gannett has been working on building an integrated marketing business and consultancy in attempt to capture more local ad dollars. In these efforts, Gannett has been reliant on its digital portfolio to at least provide guidance as part its sales outreach to local marketers.
Furthermore, online video is one of the fastest growing aspects of digital advertising. Although Pointroll is well established in the online video space, there are many challengers waiting to compete for those rich media ad dollars.