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Hibu Fires Two ‘Disloyal’ Senior Execs

By: 13 March 2013

The London Evening Standard is reporting that an attempt to engineer a buyout of Hibu’s U.S. operation (Yellowbook) is behind the recent dismissal of two senior Hibu U.S. executives.

In an internal memo last week, Hibu CEO Mike Pocock announced the termination of Yellowbook President Jim McCusker and Chief Publishing Officer Mark Cairns, citing conduct “that the company considered to be disloyal and against the interests of its employees and other stakeholders.” The memo did not offer any additional details, but Pocock did add that Hibu is contemplating further legal action against the two.

The Evening Standard’s Gideon Spanier reported this week that the firings occurred “amid speculation that they were plotting a buyout” of Yellowbook. A number of tenured Yellowbook executives have left in recent months, including Gary Shaw, the company’s longtime CTO.

Hibu, formerly Yell Group, operates directory and local search businesses in the UK, Spain, Latin America and the United States. All of the businesses are grappling with steep print declines as Hibu tries to find an effective strategy to transform the business from largely print to largely digital. Pocock came on board in 2011 with an ambitious agenda to change the business. In 2012, the company changed its name to Hibu.

Like many directory publishers worldwide, Hibu is struggling to transform itself while grappling with a large debt load. Last month the company said it was negotiating with lenders for another debt restructuring. Hibu’s debt totals roughly GBP 2 billion (US$3 billion), more than four times EBITDA for the 2012 financial year (GBP 461 million).

Recent financial results haven’t made things easier for Hibu. For the quarter ending Dec. 31 (Hibu’s financial year ends March 31), total group revenues declined by 14 percent. Customer loss has been one of Hibu’s most troubling metrics. During the same quarter, the company lost 20 percent of its print and 7 percent of its online directory customers, from the same period a year ago. The company has made up some ground in digital services (e.g., websites), which grew revenue at a 31 percent clip and added customers at a 10 percent pace. Digital directory revenues, which remain the larger digital revenue component (60 percent), declined by 7 percent.

It may take a while to assess the fallout from the departure of McCusker and Cairns. Both were widely seen as popular figures within the Yellowbook culture, and provided a link to the company’s past leader, Joe Walsh, who left less than six months after Pocock took over. Bob Gregerson, who is currently CEO of Hibu US and the group’s chief commercial officer, will assume all of McCusker’s duties. All those who reported to Cairns will now report to COO Mike Payne.



16 Comments

16 Comments »

  • Bull Shit said:

    Jim McCusker is a man of integrity and in no way would compromise himself. This is a complete fabrication.

  • Melbourne Painters said:

    Obviously the emotions are running high on this issue!

  • 4clients_not hibu said:

    Couldn’t have happened to a better guy. Drove previous company into bankruptcy, doing same to hibu

  • Bull Shit said:

    4Clients: You are obviously an idiot & have no clue regarding the business world. Hibu is a garbage company that is socially irresponsible. They wanted McCusker to terminate 3000 loyal employees.

  • Media Consultant 0718 said:

    Then why was Joe Walsh being sued in a NY supreme court for doing back alley deals? Who was he getting his insider info from? Could be his newly unemployed replacement. Strange that both EX presidents were fired for conduct un becoming.

  • Media Consultant 0718 said:

    Walsh and McCusker were both power hungry Napoleons. During a contentious meeting at which Walsh was asked to resign his position, he allegedly told Hibu’s general counsel and CEO Mike Pocock that “he would ‘burn down [Hibu]‘ and ‘take every senior manager with him,” according to the lawsuit. Walsh also allegedly said during the meeting, “Do you have any idea who I am? I am Joe Walsh. Do you know who David Beckham is? I am to [Hibu] who David Beckham is to the L.A. Galaxy,” the lawsuit said. Dont for one second think that Walsh and Mccusker werent talking about running Yellow Book themselves by bringing in private investors. Wouldnt be the first time and wont be the last. Bottom line is books are dead and they need to move on. Hibu will realize that eventually same as superpages did, hense they’re merge with DEX another online IYP company

  • Customer said:

    I’ve been affected by the lack of book distribution! My question is, HOW does a book physically get to each and every home? WHO physically delivers the books to each door?
    With plummeting use of the Yellowbook physically being used, most searches are now done on Google, Bing, MSN or Yahoo, WHY then, does Yellowbook make up fictitious numbers of the physical use when they can’t really tell you WHO is delivering the books? Question…. WHAT company \actually\ prints the book? and WHAT company is \actually\ contracted to make the delivery??
    How many books are actually printed nationwide? and how many total books are printed for the year nationwide?

  • Customer said:

    I’ve been affected by the lack of book distribution! My question is, HOW does a book physically get to each and every home? WHO physically delivers the books to each door?
    With plummeting use of the Yellowbook physically being used, most searches are now done on Google, Bing, MSN or Yahoo, WHY then, does Yellowbook make up fictitious numbers of the physical use when they can’t really tell you WHO is delivering the books? Question…. WHAT company “actually” prints the book? and WHAT company is “actually” contracted to make the delivery??
    How many books are actually printed nationwide? and how many total books are printed for the year nationwide?

  • Customer said:

    Our company made a nationwide buy from YellowBook. YellowBook states they distribute 100 million books a year. We bought 6+ Ads. Therefore, we should have had 600 million ads nationwide per year, yet, we ONLY received 18k leads, which is ONLY 18k phone calls per year! What is wrong with this picture?!! Can someone tell me what the problem is here?? Who distributes the book and how many books “actually” get delivered to a door within a year?

  • Spuds Mckee said:

    I worked under Walsh and McCusker, viewed them as being unethical and never trusted them!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Fran Webber said:

    YellowBook USA was a awesome company! until they moved to King of Prussia, PA and started a partnership with a UK based company called PindarSet. PindarSet is a company that takes pride in sending American jobs to Bangalore, India. Once PindarSet began allowing people that do not understand the english language properly, the advertisements in their directories started to suffer tremendously. I have seen Italian Restaurant advertisements with pictures of Chicken Lo Mein in it because they people in Bangalore, India didn’t understand that when the customer requested a picture of noodles for a Italian Restaurant required something more along the line of Spaghetti. This type of mistake is rampant in YellowBook USA/YellowBook/hibu. The management at PindarSet and YellowBook USA/YellowBook/hibu (or whatever they call themselves now) is the worst management I have ever seen. They care nothing about their employees or customers. All they want to do is make money. This is understandable with a large company, but this company wants to make money at your expense. When you look at the economy and the unemployment you should look at companies that love giving American jobs to Bangalore, India. Companies like YellowBook USA/YellowBook/hibu and Pindar Set. They are a scourge on the American people.

  • Fran Webber said:

    YellowBook AntiUSA changes its name so much because they screw up all the time and hope that if they change the name you will think it is a different, more competent company. It never is a different, more competent company but instead the same lying, cheating, America hating, greedy company it has been since the move to King of Prussia.

  • Fran Webber said:

    Kudos to the two disloyal employees. They were probably really fired for being honest with customers. That is a big no no at hibu/YellowBook/YellowBook AntiUSA.

  • Ex Top Rep said:

    In my 14+ years with YellowBook/HIBU I saw many great changes and many poor decisions made by management. Overall, I felt Joe Walsh cared deeply for the company and it’s employees. He was very approachable and worked hard to improve our market share versus print giants like DEX, Verizon and AT&T to name a few. Jim McKusker trying to buyout US was likely an attempt to save the company before they went down in flames!

    The past several years saw the company become top heavy with management and less emphasis on quality sales, poor product testing and an overall decline on client focused services. I agree with most negative comments made by others however the real problem comes back to a simple fact: consumers aren’t getting information from directories or IYP websites. Consumers generally go to the best sources of information like Google, BING and product sites like Amazon, Overstock and others. The last 5 years I sold for HIBU, I did not use the yellow pages a single time for any reason! The product is simply obsolete!

  • Former Regional Manager said:

    I worked at Yellowbook / Hibu for over 11 years and a different publisher for 7 years prior to that. . Last March “my position was eliminated”. This happens to be the exact same month that Mike Pocock gave himself a $160,000 raise. When Joe Walsh ran Yellowbook USA things were great! Joe is a genuine, natural leader. Jim is also a great leader. Yellowbook started it’s demise with the departure of Joe and took an even steeper drop with the firing of Jim. Mike Pocock? Really? The same Mike Pocock that nearly drove Polaroid in the ground while personally walking away with millions? Ludicrous! This guy should be in jail!

  • Past manager said:

    I worked for Yellowbook for 12 years. I learned that Joe Walsh was nothing but a FAKE! He had the ability to con many. He was not loyal and not trustworthy. At first he was great, then developed the big head! Jim McCusker was a cocky car salesman. The company lost sight of the human factor (those who helped build the business). They who took down other are learning the true meaning of “you reap what you sew”. Yellow page industry is dead!

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