Big changes at Cirrus Media earlier today with the CEO of 12 years, Jeremy Knibbs, announcing his resignation at the same time as a restructuring of the group that sees the chief operating officer role disappear.
Knibbs has been with the group more than 28 years and the COO, Peter Smal, nearly 5 years.
Knibbs said of Smal’s departure, “Peter is the best IT project and PMO person I have ever worked with and he has done a fantastic job in running much of our shared services and development over the past five years, including key stints on Hotfrog and our online directories. However, the group is moving towards a structure where the COO functions he has performed are devolving into the business units and the role will soon not exist.”
Knibbs said his decision to leave had followed a period of self-reflection where he had come to realise that he was increasingly uncomfortable with the reasons he was staying with the group.
“I had been in increasing disagreement with the Board on how to take the business forward and I was getting tired. I’ve worked pretty hard to make changes that have brought the business new momentum, and I want to see that accelerated and the businesses continue to develop.”
Since its acquisition by Catalyst around 18 months ago, Cirrus has been busy buying new businesses, changing its leadership team, consolidating its leadership in the health vertical, and building out the new events and content marketing business streams.
“Although there is much to do you yet, the business is starting to pick up momentum in some key areas, including the directories and events groups, and most especially in content marketing, which now has a fantastic team leading it. This is an area where there is significant opportunity across the group.”
Knibbs will be will be replaced by John King, who has recently returned to Australia after having worked overseas for many years, most recently as CEO of Trader Media Group where he lead the company from a predominantly print-based business, to an organisation with more than 95% digital revenues, which exceed A$400m.
Knibbs said of the appointment: “John will bring new energy, fresh perspective and outstanding skills and experience to the job at hand. It is personally comforting to know that I have been replaced by someone of such capability, who brings highly relevant experience and a strong track record to the Company.”
The parting between Knibbs and the Cirrus board appears to be amicable. He will be retaining a large portion of his shares in the group and in an internal communication to staff he praised the board as being great to work with and the right group to manage the business in these times.
Non-executive chairman of Cirrus, Trent Peterson, thanked Knibbs and Smal in his announcement to the group: “Jeremy has brought a great deal of passion, creativity and intellectual capability to the business over many years. He has overseen some remarkable developments and innovations. Peter has been a stalwart for the business and the right person to manage many of the changes the company has had to make in the last two years.”
King will start at Cirrus on July 7.