The CEO of Waywire — the startup co-founded by Newark mayor and Senate candidate Cory Booker — is stepping down, TechCrunch has learned. The resignation comes as the company is in the midst of a strategic shift from content creation to content curation, according to a source familiar with the company’s strategy.
Richardson was one of three founding members of the Waywire team, along with Booker and Sarah Ross. According to our source, the company is in search of a new CEO, who is expected to be named shortly. In the meantime, Ross is handling the company’s day-to-day activities and Richardson will remain on the company’s board of directors.
The change in leadership comes as Waywire is at an inflection point in its strategic direction. The company, which originally planned to focus on original content creation and discovery, is expected to bet big on content curation.
While still in beta, original content has gone on the back burner as the company seeks to tweak its product and prepare it for launch. In that way, Waywire will lean on others to highlight interesting content that emerges. So instead of being responsible for creating interesting content, users and brands will hopefully highlight content created elsewhere.
With the new direction of the company, Waywire is focused on ways in which it can provide value to users through three different types of content curation: that which is done by its own editors, that which is done through its community, and that which is done by content partners. With that new goal in mind, the company has been working to partner with big media companies — and has signed up two, who will be named later.
So where’s Richardson going? We’re not sure, but TechCrunch received a tip earlier today that he’s joining AOL, to be reunited with AOL Brand CEO Susan Lyne. The pair worked together while Lyne was CEO of New York City-based Gilt Groupe, and Richardson served a variety of roles, including GM of the Men’s section of the site, as well as president of Gilt City. (Our parent company AOL didn’t respond to our requests for comment.)
Richardson isn’t the only person to leave as a result of the transition, we’ve learned. A total of eight Waywire employees have moved on as the company has shifted gears over the last several weeks.
It’s not all bad news for Waywire: With the strategic shift in focus and a new CEO expected to be named soon, the company is also poised to announce a new round of seed funding over the coming days or weeks, we’ve learned.
That investment will come on top of $1.75 million that the company raised from investors that include First Round Capital, Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors, Atom Factory founder Troy Carter, LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, and all-around celebrity Oprah Winfrey.
The news of Richardson’s departure also comes after Senate hopeful Cory Booker has advanced in the race, and as his opponents seek to use his involvement in the seed-stage startup against him. That said, Booker has said that if elected, he would step down from the board of directors and also put his holdings in a financial trust.
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