Updated at 9:15am Eastern
FORT LAUDERDALE — The Sunday, March 31, departures of Comscore CEO Bryan Wiener and President Sarah Hofstetter are largely viewed as the key catalysts that sent the data measurement company into a financial tailspin, with its stock sliding from the low-$20 range to under $1.50 a share in mid-August.
While Comscore shares have stopped the bleeding, leadership of the company will now be guided by a new, South Florida-based CEO, promoted from within.
Bill Livek, a Comscore executive who has been Exec. Vice Chairman and President since exiting the Vice Chairman/CEO role at Rentrak in early 2016, was appointed late Tuesday by Comscore’s board of directors to take the role of EVP/CEO.
He succeeds director and interim CEO Dale Fuller, who was thrust into the role following Wiener’s very-public exit, which saw him make comments on his personal LinkedIn page — a move Hofstetter also did on March 31.
For Livek, the challenges are obvious, with a Q3 loss and net revenue miss just the tip of the iceberg on what could be a titanic turnaround project.
And, it puts a person who served as a “special adviser” to the CEO since June 2018, when Wiener was still in the role, in the top spot.
In prepared comments, Fuller said, “I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to have served as Comscore’s interim CEO and believe we are a stronger organization to continue our transformation and bring innovative products and services to our customers. After much consideration, I believe I am best able to serve Comscore and its mission as a member of the board of directors.”
Livek thanked Fuller “for his guidance and leadership throughout this transition,” adding that he is excited about the prospects that lie ahead for Comscore “and the opportunities we continue to believe are ripe for disruption.”
RBR+TVBR has offered numerous stories over the last seven months on the shaky situation at Comscore — punctuated by the September 27 news that it will pay a $5 million penalty for fraudulently inflating its revenue by $50 million between February 2014 and February 2016.
The conduct occurred under then-CEO Serge Matta. He took over as Chief Executive in February 2014, as Dr. Magid Abraham, Comscore’s co-founder and then-CEO, became Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors. Matta had been with Comscore since shortly after its inception in 1999. From June 2013, he had served as President of Comscore.
With Matta misleading Comscore accountants, he signed off on overvalued deals where it provided data sets to other companies, MarketWatch reports.
Another problem: Comscore’s customer rolls were declining, but to avoid sharing this the company, admittedly, changed its definition of what a customer was without telling its investors.
Furthermore, the SEC said Comscore misled investors on the sales of one of its core products, one that measures ad campaigns. It said sales increased; they decreased.
Terms of the settlement include payment by Comscore of the $5 million civil monetary penalty, with Comscore neither admitting nor denying the SEC’s allegations.
A separate SEC proceeding against Matta saw his own settlement with the SEC, in which he has agreed to pay a clawback to Comscore of $2.1 million.
RBR+TVBR RELATED READ: