Mansueto Ventures’ CEO John Koten Steps Down

John Koten, who recently sent a bizarre e-mail to staffers asking them to “show some respect,” has mysteriously stepped down as CEO of Mansueto Ventures, publisher of Inc. and Fast Company, a source close to the situation confirmed. Koten quietly vacated the company’s downtown New York headquarters Friday.
 
Koten was one of a few executives who stayed through the titles’ 2005 sale to Joe Mansueto, CEO of financial research firm Morningstar, from Gruner + Jahr USA Publishing. He had been editor in chief of Inc. prior to being elevated to CEO.
 
No reason was given for Koten’s departure, but his relationship with Mansueto was said to have soured after Koten sent two curious recent e-mails to staff earlier in April.
 
In one, Koten asked staff to show “some respect” by asking him how he became a success. In the other, he recommended his sailing instructor. The e-mails likely hit a raw nerve at the company, where Koten back in October laid off 20 people and cut various perks in a broad cost-cutting effort to bring expenses in line with the softened ad market.  
 
“It can’t be an accident,” a source at the company said of the timing of Koten’s departure.
 
No successor is expected to be named. Instead, an executive committee composed of CFO Mark Rosenberg, managing director and Fast Company editor Bob Safian and Inc. editor Jane Berentson will handle day-to-day operations.
 
“All options are open,” the source said of Koten. “For now, he’s stepping down as CEO and taking a leave from the company. Whether he comes back is between him and Joe.”