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Van Couvering ousted from M+M, replaced by PR guy with channel focus

Kevin Murphy, February 22, 2016, 12:09:42 (UTC), Domain Registries

Antony Van Couvering has been fired as CEO of Minds + Machines and replaced by someone who was until very recently the company’s agency PR guy.
Neither Van Couvering, the company, nor incoming CEO Toby Hall, have disclosed the reason for his ouster.
But I suspect the “differences and disagreements” that Van Couvering alluded to in his CircleID piece this morning may refer to M+M’s go-to-market strategy.
Hall told DI this morning that his focus as the company’s new leader is going to be on the registrar channel.
“It’s all about engaging with the outside world and recognizing we’re a business-to-business play,” Hall said. “It’s a fundamental shift in perspective.”
The strategy “has to be stacked in a way that makes our business partners make revenue”, he said.
“We’re not a consumer registrar,” he said.
M+M is a vertically integrated domain name company, acting as both registry and registrar.
Registrar sources tell us that Van Couvering wasn’t keen on working with third-party retailers, preferring to focus on its in-house registrar.
It seems that’s going to change under Hall.
M+M said in a press release (jarringly, emailed to reporters this morning as usual by Hall himself):

Mr Van Couvering was removed from office with immediate effect by means of a unanimous resolution of directors passed at a meeting of directors held on 19 February 2016.
The Group is currently making the transition from asset gatherer to monetisation of its leading portfolio of top-level domains; the Board believes a change of leadership will assist in this process.

Hall was appointed chief marketing officer last month.
Since the early 1990s, he’s been head of the London-based PR slash investor relations outfit GTH Communications, which focuses on small-cap businesses. M+M was a GTH client almost since it was founded, Hall said.
He said he’s going to be stepping back from GTH to focus on M+M.
Van Couvering founded Minds + Machines in 2008. It was soon acquired by the company that would be known as Top Level Domain Holdings, which later changed its name to Minds + Machines.
TLDH founder Fred Krueger got canned by the M+M board last year too.
Today, Van Couvering wrote:

It’s a story told a thousand times: founder of a company ousted by investors. It’s a story so common you can find it any day of the week as a minor headline in a tech blog. Not much of a story at all really, until it happened to me…
It sucked.

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Comments (6)

  1. A leader in the industry. He’ll be missed.

  2. Antony Van Couvering says:

    I wish M+M well, how can you not love your children?
    Still, history cannot be rewritten quite so easily. I’ve been pushing hard for channel engagement for some time. I would have hoped the company would leave it at “differences of opinion” or something similar but apparently not.

  3. It’s no secret Antony Van Couvering didn’t care about the registrars. He said it loud and clear at NamesCon 2015 last year.

  4. A company founder being outsted by investors, it really sucks.

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