Another day, another CEO parts ways. This time it’s the turn of Madvertise co-founder Carsten Frien who is stepping down from his position as CEO at the European mobile ad company. He’s being replaced by Christof Wittig, an experienced (and successful) entrepreneur, who — despite being a native of Germany, where Madvertise is headquartered — was most recently a VC in Silicon Valley with San Francisco-based firm Kii Capital.
We understand that the change at the top job wasn’t a hostile one (after spending 5 years helping to build Madvertise from scratch, Frien will stay involved at an Advisory Board level) but that it comes at a time when the company is looking for further International expansion, namely in the U.S., East Asia and emerging markets — hence Wittig’s appointment.
We’ve also learned from sources that the timing may have personal significance for the departing Frien as it is thought to coincide with his vesting period. In Germany, after taking outside investment, it’s pretty standard for founder shares to vest after 2-5 years, with the ‘sweet spot’ being somewhere in the middle. In that context, it looks like Frien has more than paid his dues. After multiple rounds, and being that Madvertise was co-founded by a German incubator (Team Europe), he’s likely to have been diluted quite heavily by now, too.
In a statement, Frien says: “I am very happy that we have been able to sign up a proven technology CEO with deep international experience to lead the next phase of growth for madvertise. I am looking forward to contribute to the future expansion of the company as a member of the Advisory Board and support Christof in his new role.”
As for the person taking over, prior to Kii Capital where he was Managing Director, Wittig has been founding CEO of U.S. and China-based Servo Software, which merged in 2010 with Synclore to become Kii Corporation. Before that he was co-founder and CEO of db4objects, an open-source database company, which was acquired by Versant in 2008.
Interestingly, he first moved to the U.S. to become a Sloan Fellow at the Stanford Graduate School of Business in 2004. Back in Germany, he’d previously founded APSIS Software AG, a Munich-based software company, which he led as CEO through its sale to Nemetschek AG in 1999, later merged with conject AG in 2002.
So, yes, quite an impressive CV.
Madvertise was founded in 2008 and is funded by Earlybird, Blumberg Capital, Team Europe, Point Nine Capital and Felicis Ventures.