Demand Media co-founder, chairman, CEO Rosenblatt exits

(Reuters) - Demand Media Inc Chairman and CEO Richard Rosenblatt is leaving the online content company he co-founded, its board announced on Monday.

Richard Rosenblatt, CEO of Demand Media, attends the Allen & Co Media Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho July 10, 2012. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

The directors named Shawn Colo, who is also a co-founder, as the company’s interim president and chief executive. James Quandt, a board member, was named chairman.

The board said in a news release it would start a search for a permanent CEO shortly.

“I realize that all journeys must ultimately come to an end and want to wish Shawn and the entire team success as they continue to grow the business,” Rosenblatt said in the release.

Rosenblatt did not immediately respond to a request for comment and a spokeswoman said the company had no comment beyond the release.

Demand offered scant clues on Rosenblatt’s sudden exit. He has led Demand Media and been a constant presence during earnings calls since the company went public in 2011.

Jordan Rohan, an analyst with Stifel, wrote in a note to investors, “The change is not entirely surprising given the pressure from Google’s (algorithm) changes on the content business, the overall strategic drift in the company and waning share price.”

Founded in 2006, Demand Media was a closely watched experiment in how to create content inexpensively by tapping a network of thousands of freelancers for “how-to” articles and videos. It makes money from advertising when its content shows up high on search results.

It owns sites such as eHow, Cracked and Livestrong as well as a top-level domain business, which it is planning to spin out.

In recent years, Demand Media has been hurt by changes Google Inc has made to its search algorithm meant to weed out content that it said was of lesser quality. Demand relies heavily on Google for traffic referrals.

Shares of Demand Media were unchanged in after-hours trading on Monday after closing flat at $5.85. In the past year, shares are down 44 percent.

Reporting by Jennifer Saba in New York; editing by Matthew Lewis