Freedom Interactive President Michael Mathieu is leaving to be CEO of YuMe Networks, which is sort of positioned as the “DoubleClick of video.” YuMe is a privately held company headquartered in Redwood City, California, and backed to the tune of $16 million by Khosla Ventures, Accel Partners, BV Capital and DAG Ventures. Jayant Kadambi, who had been CEO, will switch over to the president’s role and will remain on YuMe’s board of directors.
Mathieu’s departure might be seen as a setback for Freedom, the publisher of The Orange County Register and owner of smaller newspapers, specialty publications and 21 TV stations. It has 225 Web sites in all. Freedom gave Mathieu a wide charter to transform a company that had invested very much in the Web before his arrival. A dot-com ringer recruited from United Online (i.e., Classmates.com), Mathieu built the interactive division from several employees to 80 people, and recruited a team of Internet-savvy executives.
Mathieu says the YuMe opportunity “just came up” and allows him to return to his roots in Northern California. He emphasizes that his departure shouldn’t be read as a reflection on Freedom or the newspaper industry’s overall prospects.
“The industry ultimately gets it right,” says Mathieu. “It is going to happen.” Freedom itself is “on a great trajectory, at least on the Internet side.” One initiative that Freedom has been developing is a local small-business SEO/SEM business, working with Orange Soda.
Mathieu adds that he’s very proud that Freedom’s growth is “in the 50 percent range while other newspaper companies have begun to slow.” He also says he expects to be mining the great contacts he has made in the newspaper and TV industries to extend YuMe’s video network. Video is a big part of their future, he says.