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Business, Finance & Economics

On the hot seat: Ten tech CEOs who could be fired tomorrow

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Twitter CEO Dick Costolo (L) speaks in conversation with John Battelle during the 2011 Web 2.0 Summit on October 17, 2011 in San Francisco, California. Costolo, one of the many CEOs whos job is on the line, must prove to investors that Twitter can generate new revenue streams

Credit:

Justin Sullivan

Millions of people use your product, but none of them pay.

The SEC is investigating. 

You don't own the rights to the content, and the people that do are charging an arm and a leg.

You're stuck at number two.

A 5 percent stakeholder just started a proxy war.

Life as a tech CEO isn't easy.

Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter, has got to prove Twitter is more monetizable than AIM or chat.

Costolo came to Twitter from Google, which he joined when Google bought his RSS advertising network, Feedburner.

That was a far out business idea that never caught on.

Costolo can't have that happen at Twitter, which investors and board members once believed would be the next Facebook.

New Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson is already dealing with a proxy fight.

Thompson only joined Yahoo earlier this year, but he's already under fire from activist shareholder Dan Loeb, whose hedge fund, Third Point, owns more than 5 percent of the company.

Thompson is about to fire thousands of employees and sell off Yahoo's ad tech businesses. That should buy him some time. But his predecessor, Carol Bartz, lost her job because she couldn't grow Yahoo's revenues, and the same thing will happen to Thompson if he can't either.

John Maloney isn't Tumblr's CEO, but he is the adult supervision.

Tumblr doesn't have a business model yet.

Tumblr has hundreds of millions of users and a valuation close to a billion dollars.

Investors are thrilled with where this thing has gotten, but if Tumblr doesn't monetize relatively soon, it won't be just founder and CEO David Karp who loses his job.

30,000 users aren't helping Bill Nguyen keep his job.

A year ago, Nguyen raised a $41 million to launch a photo-sharing mobile app, Color.

No one used it.

Months later — and amid employee turnover — Color re-launched as a video status sharing app.

No one is using it.

The next employee to turnover might be the founder.

TheLadders.com CEO Marc Cenedella almost ran for the Senate. He should have.

That would have been a graceful way out.

Now the CEO of a once-promising New York startup has to deal with disappointed investors still waiting for an IPO many of them thought would come last year or the year before.

Andrew Mason can't get Groupon's financial reporting under control.

Groupon keeps screwing up with weird financial reporting.

First it booked marketing expenses as a capital cost. Then it logged gross revenues as net revenues. Finally, last week, it had to revise its Q4 revenues thanks to under reported returns. Now the SEC is investigating the company.

Meanwhile, Groupon still isn't profitable.

The buck stops with Andrew Mason. Mason always an artist and a do-gooder, never thought he would be a businessman. Maybe he won't be, in the long run.

LivingSocial's Tim O'Shaugnessy faces tight margins and lots of competition.

Besides much cleaner financial reporting, LivingSocial has all the same problems as Groupon — specifically margin compression from thousands of competitors and growth that's dependent on marketing spending.  The only difference is that LivingSocial is in second place.
 

Thorsten Heins is the CEO of RIM.

The BlackBerry is yesterday's smartphone, having sold 11 million last quarter versus more than 37 million iPhones sold by Apple. Only one million BlackBerry Playbooks have been sent to stores since it launched. Heins is trying to sell the company, but there's no reason one should buy it

AOL CEO Tim Armstrong probably regrets launching Patch.

Armstrong promised investors the AOL turnaround would start a long time ago. It hasn't and now AOL shareholder Starboard Value LP wants to replace a bunch of AOL's board members. Armstrong better hurry up and shut down Patch, which he invested $140 million into last year, to almost no one's benefit.

Pandora's future is in doubt. So is CEO Joe Kennedy's job.

This lead from Digital Music News says it all: "It's getting harder not to ask that question: Pandora is one of the biggest streaming radio services on the planet, yet it's struggling to pay its royalty bills, it can't even enter the UK, and it can't convince Wall Street to take it seriously.  And now, the company is telling Wall Street that it's unlikely to be profitable until at least early 2013 - that is, best case scenario."
 
 

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