Rocket Fuel Promotes Sales Chief Randy Wootton To CEO

randy-woottonEight months after former CEO George John stepped down and the company started a search for his replacement, Rocket Fuel has decided to give head of sales Randy Wootton the keys to the city.

Wootton was first hired in March to oversee a reorganization that split the company’s sales efforts clearly into three channels: agencies, direct sales to marketers and partnerships with systems integrators, such as Merkle and IBM.

He previously held sales leadership roles at aQuantive, Microsoft and

“We were looking for someone who has operations chops who can focus on execution, somebody who knew the marketing stack and somebody who knew media and marketing,” interim CEO Monte Zweben said in an interview with AdExchanger.

With Wootton’s appointment, George John officially exits the company he founded and steps down from its board, and Zweben settles in as executive chairman. Wootton is also taking a board seat.

Additionally, the company said Rocket Fuel CFO David Sankaran will step down in the next few weeks.

The executive news follows Rocket Fuel’s reporting of a mixed third quarter. Revenue increased 10% to $111.8 million, within the company’s earlier range. But management said the typical Q4 bump might never materialize, citing weaker-than-expected traction with agencies and holding companies as an inhibitor of growth. Read the earnings release.

“As you’ve heard on previous calls, Rocket Fuel’s historically fast growth created some friction with the agencies,” Wootton said Wednesday during the company’s conference call with investors. “While we haven’t seen full financial impact of [deal-making] with large agency deals, we’ve laid the groundwork for the future. Future trading desk business should require much lower costs.”

Revenue from ads in mobile grew 3% compared to Q3 2014, but revenue from mobile, social and video combined actually shrank 10% year-over-year to $40.2 million, the first time that has happened since the company began breaking out that metric.

Rocket Fuel says it now has 264 total marketers that are directly active on its platform. Its total customer count was 1,541 during the quarter, up a smidgen from 1,446 in the year-ago period.

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