Federated Media Chief Marketing Officer Pete Spande Departs

Move Comes as Company Is Widely Believed to Be Eyeing Liquidity Event

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Federated Media is one of a number of digital-media companies speculated to be looking for an exit at some point in the next year, either via an initial public offering or acquisition. But it will have to do so without one of its longtime sales evangelists, as Chief Marketing Officer Peter Spande has left.

Mr. Spande departed in mid-December, vacating a position in which he oversaw all marketing, sales and ad operations for FM. He had been promoted to the post in July, after two years as sales chief. He joined FM in the fall of 2007 to run East Coast sales and was one of the company's longest-tenured execs.

In an interview in late November, Mr. Spande told Ad Age that Federated Media was on track to have its best quarter ever in the fourth quarter. The company had just acquired Lijit Networks, which runs an ad network and provides analytic tools to online publishers. That move was seen as a way to round out FM's offering and give it the technology and small-publisher relationships that would help its advertisers reach niche sites through programmatic buying.

"The end of the year is always the time to make new plans, and I just felt like it was the right time to leave," Mr. Spande told Ad Age in a short interview yesterday. Federated Media spokesman Clint Bagley said the company does not comment about past employees. (This reporter is a former employee of Federated.)

Federated Media has lost at least three other longtime members of its sales team in the past five months: two sales directors, to BuzzFeed and Google, and a VP-sales to advertising startup Taykey.

"It's supercompetitive out there," Mr. Bagley said. "It's just a cycle that everybody goes through."

Michael Gutkowski, who joined Federated Media in July as exec VP-operations, has assumed the title of president-sales and marketing, Mr. Bagley said. The company has also just hired two senior ad execs from Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. Viktoria Degtar, former digital sales chief at MSLO, is now VP-sales at FM; and Meredith King, who was MSLO's ad operations director, will fill FM's newly created position of VP-business management.

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