Ad industry veteran David Verklin says he will step down as CEO of Canoe Ventures, the interactive TV joint venture backed by the major cable companies, at the end of the summer. COO Kathy Timko will take over his post on an interim basis. There is no executive search going on to actively replace Verklin, who became the company’s first chief executive three years ago. As such, it is possible, though not assured, that Timko could become a permanent head of the operation.
For a decade, Verklin led ad holding company Aegis Media Americas before jumping to Canoe, which was formed as Project Canoe with backing starting from Comcast (NSDQ: CMCSA) in March 2008.
The company was intended to help create a seamless national sales system for TV ads targeted to cable viewers through the set-top box. But along the way, it’s evolved to be more than that, especially as the goal of “addressability” (industry lawyers have preferred that word to “targeting,” which has taken on negative connotations) the company’s original ambition had been hampered by the limited technology of some local cable systems.
Instead, Canoe has focused on simpler ad sales efforts like creating lead generation products. Currently, Canoe is working on rolling out a national dynamic ad insertion system for Video On Demand. More than that, Canoe has created what it claims is the nation’s largest national ITV (LSE: ITV) platform (more than 20 million HH across multiple MSOs) as its most significant accomplishment.
Verklin was considered well-suited to get Canoe off the ground. Well-liked and respected throughout all parts of the ad industry, Verklin was viewed as someone who could serve as a diplomat between Canoe’s backers — in addition to Comcast, there is Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC), Cablevision (NYSE: CVC), Cox Communications, Charter Communications (NSDQ: CHTR) and Bright House Networks.
Around the time of his being hired, Congress was scrutinizing cable networks’ planned use of targeted ads as a violation of subscribers’ privacy — Charter, for example, aborted its targeted experiment in June ’08 after complaints rose — and someone Verklin’s role also called for him to be among the industry’s trusted ambassador’s to Capitol Hill in case of trouble. Release