Tip: ‘Shining star’ PointRoll lays off 20; more due

Gannett is apparently tightening its grip on one of the company’s most promising digital investments: PointRoll, the advertising services start-up it bought from then-CEO Chris Saridakis and others in a series of deals, starting three years ago.

Saridakis (left) was later promoted to GCI’s chief technology officer, last January — putting him in line to run any businesses that survive Gannett’s troubled transition to a fully digital company. But as Saridakis spends more time on Gannett Digital, there’s no guarantee his former company will prosper inside more tradition-bound Gannett.

“The Gannett influence is taking hold and truly beginning to destroy a formerly shining star,” says my tipster, who requested anonymity. “Last week, 20 people were laid off from PointRoll. More are expected this week. . . . This is nearly 10% of the overall employee base.”

What’s more, my tipster says, PointRoll is “flat from a revenue standpoint, year over year. Still an impressive business and extremely profitable. But they are losing share to competition.”

PointRoll ‘fully Gannettized’
Business start-ups often lose their entrepreneurial edge when they get swallowed by bigger, more bureaucratic enterprises. Early employees chafe at new red tape and slow decision-making. They quit for more promising ventures, taking with them the passion for innovation needed to keep the start-up growing fast. The start-up often withers and sometimes dies. (Background: I spent nearly eight years as USA Today‘s entrepreneurship reporter.)

“In short,” my tipster says, “PointRoll has been fully Gannettized and its prospects are now only marginally brighter than those of Gannett.”

Earlier: Trouble for Gannett and HighSchoolSports.net?

Can you confirm my reader’s tip — and add details? Please post your replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

[Image: a recent PointRoll homepage screenshot]

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4 Responses to “Tip: ‘Shining star’ PointRoll lays off 20; more due”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Hear it? The sucking sound of the core pulling profitable projects with future potential into the black hole. Fixing this problem starts at the top because that’s where the sucking sound begins. Other industrys can and have done it. Gannett’s current culture is going to kill innovation like anti-bodies to a virus.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    So much for the hope of new enterprises pulling GCI out of the hole it has dug itself into. Internet ad revenues are collapsing, but not at the rate newspaper ads have collapsed. But instead of waiting out the bad period, GCI is responding with layoffs because the stock watchers fear the stockholder rebellion later this month when truly dismal Q3 revenues are detailed.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Layoffs come when operational expenditures exceed revenue. Any company in the 4th quarter who is not keeping this in balance will issue layoffs, it is predicted. Pepsi announced it this morning as 3rd qtr earnings did not meet expectations. They will let 3500 people go.
    There are alot of 3rd qtr earnings information coming from corporate America in the coming weeks. GE also fell short.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    I work at Pointroll now and things are different after Saridakis left last year. There is no passion and a lot of micro managing by Jason Tafler the new CEO. We have hired managers and other people who do not know the business or have the drive like the prior management team.

    I also hear that Keith Gelles the co-founder and current CTO is leaving Pointroll soon. This is not good as Keith has all the knowledge on the technology side.

    I am not privy to the revenues, but you can tell we are sucking wind as we are not going to get much in the way of operations bonuses this quarter.

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