Stock-Option Backdating Claims CNet's CEO

Shelby Bonnie Resigns; Neil Ashe Promoted

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Billion-dollar startup acquisitions, stock-option irregularities, filleted high-tech executives. It's 2006, but it feels more like 1999 from the looks of this week's headlines.
Neil Ashe has been named CNet's new CEO.
Neil Ashe has been named CNet's new CEO.

Shelby Bonnie, chairman-CEO of the popular technology-news publisher CNet Networks, resigned following a review of the company's stock-option practices. Then two top executives at security-software maker McAfee -- CEO George Samenuk and President Kevin Weiss -- were shown the door after an internal probe found the company had improperly accounted for nearly $150 million in stock-option costs.

Riding recent boom
Riding the recent boom in internet technology and gadgetry, CNet was at one time named as an acquisition target by the likes of Yahoo. The company has also shown ambitions beyond the internet, earlier this year striking video-on-demand deals to supply ad-supported content to Cox Communications, TiVo and TVN Entertainment.

Neil Ashe has been named CNet's new CEO, effective immediately. Mr. Ashe most recently served as senior VP-strategy and development. Jarl Mohn, meanwhile, has been named non-executive chairman. He was previously president-CEO of Liberty Digital.

CNet said some instances of "backdating" options occurred from the company's initial public offering in 1996 through at least 2003, but the firm's special review has not yet concluded any current or recent employees "engaged in intentional wrongdoing."

Co-founder still on board
A co-founder of the San Francisco-based company, Mr. Bonnie will remain a member of CNet's board.

"I apologize for the option-related problems that happened under my leadership," he said in a statement released today. "I believe that the company has come a long way since 2003 in addressing these deficiencies, but am deeply disappointed it happened nonetheless."
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