CBS MARKETWATCH -- May 25 -- Friendster to announce Wednesday that CEO Scott Sassa has resigned according to a Tuesday all-staff meeting. Former NBC exec, Sassa will be replaced by Taek Kwon, EVP of product at Citysearch.com; to begin June 13. Sassa will remain through the summer to facilitate a transition. Kwon was chosen because of his technical background and is expected to focus on technology improvements. Sassa is known for developing "The West Wing," "Law & Order," and "Fear Factor." He replaced former Yahoo CEO Tim Koogle, an early Friendster investor. Sassa ushered in an advertising business model. One year later, the company has roughly the same number of employees, and is expected to generate about $10 million in annual sales. But it's not yet profitable. Friendster started a trend whereby other social-networking sites, like Google's Orkut and Tribe.net started.
SUN-SENTINEL -- May 26 -- "I wasn't the right person to go forward," said Sassa. "I thought that where the company was, we wanted someone more versed in technology. It's certainly not like we're building buggy whips when cars are just coming into fashion. Social networking is just in the early innings, and Friendster is a great brand." The Mountain View company also said it had laid off five employees, leaving a staff of 50. "When the original innovator is ostracized from his company, I think that puts it in jeopardy," said Sean Parker, a founder of Plaxo and Napster and now president of Thefacebook.
Mark Brooks: Jonathan (Friendster founder) is friends with Sean. Friendster is backed by VC's Kleiner Perkins (Sun, Amazon, AOL), Benchmark (ebay, AOL, ofoto) and Battery Ventures (infoseek, akamai) along with a number of individual investors. I interviewed Jan, the new CEO of Tribe two weeks ago and will interview the new Friendster CEO for the beginning of July. Let me know your ideas for questions I should ask him. Before Citysearch, Taek was VP Engineering at Hotwire.