Last night, TechCrunch’s Erick Schonfeld reported that Netvibes founder Tariq Krim is stepping down as CEO to work on a “new project”. “My role was to transfer Netvibes from a personal start page into a widget platform”, Krim told Schonfeld. He will remain on the board of the company and will also stay a non-executive strategic adviser. Right after the article was published, the first rumors buzzed around the web. I’ve emailed Krim to get some more background.
Krim told TechCrunch that the technical foundation for Netvibes was completed with the recent release of Ginger, the latest version that gave the site a social flavor. Several bloggers didn’t take this for granted and wrote that Krim was pushed aside by the VC’s. In an email to me, he replied to this rumors: “No, everything is fine for me. The company makes revenue and can now enter the growth stage.”
Krim advised me to contact the new Netvibes CEO, former COO Freddy Mini from San Francisco. Mini is probably happy with his new job, but the vibe in the blogosphere might temper his enthusiasm. Schonfeld called the fight of Netvibes against iGoogle and MyYahoo a “losing battle“, and some people have already linked Netvibes to the deadpool.
Mini: “They’re overreacting. Google has a great help from its highly popular search service but fortunately we have a sustainable revenue model based on both our premium Universe offer – that inserts a fully customized Netvibes with a partner site – and our sponsored placements for paid distribution of widgets. Ginger has just open to everyone at the end of April from which we expect growth in new users and visits per month.”
“All in all”, Mini writes, “the new version now available and business model is selling. I don’t think we are near any deadpool”.
The vibe at Netvibes doesn’t seem pessimistic at all. The executives even have the guts to make some bold strategic decisions. On Friday, the company will make all the technology around the widget platform open source. They’re also working on turning widgets into mobile applications. Or are these startegic decision really just moves made out of desperation?