Think Partnership Cleans House at WebSourced

Think Partnership has fired two vice presidents at its WebSourced search marketing subsidiary amidst a full-scale housecleaning initiated there last month.

The company has terminated Jeff Martin, VP of engineering, and Mark Campaugh, VP of client services, according to Xavier Hermosillo, a director of Think Partnership.

“As part of our ongoing review of the business, we came to the conclusion that Mark and Jeff didn’t fit our plans for what WebSourced will look like going forward,” he said. Their roles will be filled on an interim basis by internal staff, and long-term plans will be determined in the coming weeks. The company also fired eight sales representatives for performance reasons, Hermosillo said.

The firings resulted from an operational inquiry the company initiated in August after reporting it had to write off a staggering $1.4 million in bad debt last quarter. WebSourced made up about a third of Think Partnership’s $16 million in overall revenue for last quarter. The operational review is being led by George Douaire, Think’s new chief operating officer, and is expected to be completed in the next two to four weeks.

“Last month, we began a systematic analysis of the entire business. George was asked to look at everything — contracts, systems, people — to find out where the problems were that needed to be addressed. We’ve gotten lots of input from staff in every department,” said Hermosillo.

At the time, the company attributed much of the problem to smaller companies with annual contracts that stopped paying WebSourced after seeing some results from the initial work. The company has since decided to require a higher up-front payment to cover the costs associated with initial work.

Both Douaire and Scott Mitchell, Thinks’ new president, were hired in August to fill out the executive team of the parent company, which previously consisted solely of CEO Gerard Jacobs.

Hermosillo insists that Martin and Campaugh are not being blamed for the bad debt, but rather that the investigation into the causes of the problem uncovered other issues that were best resolved by asking them to leave.

“As part of getting to the bottom of our analysis, other changes became obvious,” Hermosillo said.

Rumors have been circling the company on search industry blogs like Threadwatch, where it was alleged that the North Carolina Department of Revenue conducted a raid on the company, and that Pat Martin, WebSourced’s president, and Director of Sales Scott Gardner had also been forced out. Hermosillo said there is no truth to any of these rumors.

“The Department of Revenue was here, but they were conducting an annual audit of use taxes. There was no raid,” Hermosillo said. “Pat Martin was not fired. He’s taking some personal time off, and is expected to return on Monday.”

Gardner left to take a position as VP of sales at an Internet start-up, he added.

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