Insider Pages founder Stu MacFarlane has been replaced as CEO by Mitch Galbraith, a veteran of Yahoo!'s small-business division who was recently brought in as VP of advertising. The change at the top appears to have been initiated by Insider's investors, which include IdeaLab, Sequoia Capital and Softbank.
The turn of events is a surprise. In a conversation at SES Local just two weeks ago, MacFarlane expressed strong confidence in the local review/IYP site’s prospects. He told me he had just sold his house in Manhattan Beach, near L.A. — the house whose recent remodelling was the inspiration for Insider Pages. He also said he was relocating his family to new digs in the Bay Area, where the company moved last year. Now the company is officially saying that MacFarlane didn't really want to move. Whatever. (Explanations for executive departures are kind of a joke in the PR community, right?)
While Insider Pages has been an early leader among the IYP-driven social networks, and may still be, it appears to have recently lost ground to Yelp. Judy's Book is another contender. Is it possible that the company, like others in the space, has unnerved its investors with a high burn rate? It is. Insider has had a number of expensive initiatives, such as its print "best of" guide, and the introduction of pay-per-call models at the local level. But this is just speculation on my part.
In an (unposted) release announcing the change, Sequoia's Roelof Botha said: "Mitch brings just the right mix of business, advertising and online community-building acumen to help drive the next stage of growth at Insider Pages. We're thrilled to have him taking the helm at this juncture." In the release, Galbraith is given credit for Insider's recent redesign, which "features a simpler, cleaner look & feel aimed at making the member experience quick and easy."