Two top executives at Softbank Interactive Marketing have left the Internet ad sales company, just two weeks into new ownership by Zulu-Tek.
Andy Batkin, chairman, who founded SIM as Interactive Marketing in 1994 with Yahoo as its flagship client, officially resigned his post as the deal concluded at the beginning of the month. Now, chief executive Caroline Vanderlip, who had been expected to remain onboard, has also opted out, citing “personal reasons.”
The departures leave the reins of the company to the new majority owners, whose top management includes chairman Ron Meatchem, as well as Pat Hayton and Neil Miller, who sit on the Newport, R.I.-based company’s board of directors.
“You won’t see any more [management] changes,” said Meatchem, a 40-year auto industry veteran who will become acting CEO until that position is dissolved as part of a reorganization early next month.
Several industry sources said Zulu executives had been looking for a way to sell its echomedia banner technology to ad agencies and saw rep firms as an entree. Other Internet ad sales companies were also approached by Zulu in the fall. But those sources said they declined to enter merger talks with a virtually unknown entity.
Miller, from London-based Asian Finance Corp., and Hayton, an “entrepreneur from Australia,” according to Meatchem, have been investment partners since the ’80s. In 1987, London’s Financial Intermediaries, Managers and Brokers Regulatory Association charged a firm owned by Hayton and Miller with changing the operations of their company without informing shareholders. Hayton himself had been cited by the Securities and Exchange Commission earlier for failing to file documents on properties based in Nashville, Tenn.
Zulu’s plan for Softbank is to merge the firm with echomedia. Both names will be dropped, as Softbank is required to return the name by the end of March to former owner Softbank Holdings. The integration of software development with Softbank will put the rep firm on par with competitor DoubleClick, which boasts an extensive software portfolio for the ad industry.
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