September 14, 2007

Barak Berkowitz Out at SixApart: The Running Dog Runs On

Before I came to Blogger, I had a blog on LiveJournal for six years. LiveJournal got taken over by SixApart who brought in Barak Berkowitz as CEO. Berkowitz promptly steered the company into lying to its user base about advertising on the site and instituted a bunch of indefinite, mealy-mouthed, potentially actionable rules about content that drove users away in, well, droves. His was a name I had come across before during my previous incarnation as a Silicon Valley headhunter and the title "running dog" was attached to it. In the parlance of the time, a "running dog" was an executive or manager who would hire on with a startup company, generally mismanage things but hang around until his/her stock options vested, and then jump ship for the next startup before the results of his/her incompetence became evident. A new executive would come in behind him and clean up the mess he'd made, in which case the stock options might prove to be worth something, or else not be able to do so, in which case the running dog could simply growl at the new executive for not having fixed things and, by passing the buck, escape blame.

So it comes as no great surprise to learn today that Barak Berkowitz is out the door at SixApart. This is because, he says, he's "looking for a smaller role." No doubt at a smaller (startup) company, where he can no doubt repeat what he's been doing for many years now.

Executive shuffle at blog software maker Six Apart

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept 14 (Reuters) - Blogging software maker Six Apart said on Friday Chairman and Chief Executive Barak Berkowitz was stepping aside and would be replaced by Chris Alden, who had run the company's professional software unit.

Berkowitz had headed the company for more than three-and-a-half years after joining its board as representative of Six Apart's first outside investor...

"As we've brought the business to scale, the board and I have been talking about my desire to take on a smaller role," Berkowitz said in a statement. "With the company so stable and on a great growth track, it's a natural time to make a transition..."

For more than 20 years, Berkowitz has been an executive in high-tech and retail industries, working as CEO at innovative wireless software maker OmniSky, later acquired by EarthLink, and as general manager of Go Network, the Walt Disney Co (DIS.N: Quote, Profile , Research) Internet portal.

He also had held management positions at Logitech, Apple Computer and Macy's and worked as a technology consultant.
Average out the length of his career with just this number of companies and you get the idea... and I don't think those are all the companies he's worked for, just the ones that didn't completely crumble.

Personally, I have no intention of going back to LiveJournal. This is home now after four months. Moreover, I have no idea whether SixApart's new CEO will be any better than the last one. The likelihood of his being worse for the people who still use LiveJournal is not very great, at least.

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