Offerpal Media, a company that helps social-network app creators make money from offers and surveys, on Tuesday announced that it had replaced its CEO in the wake of a high-profile onstage argument at a conference and subsequent press over whether it's scamming consumers who fill out offers in order to earn virtual goods in social games.
Anu Shukla, who founded the company and had been serving as CEO since its 2007 launch, will be replaced by George Garrick, who has served as the CEO of Flycast Communications, Wine.com, Jingle Networks, and Mochi Media. Shukla "will still be involved and help guide the company," an Offerpal representative told CNET News.
A statement from Shukla makes it sound like the company's been CEO-hunting for months ("I have known George for a long time...After many months of searching, I believe that George is the best CEO to scale the company to new heights. I am looking forward to working with him closely"). But the timing is a little too good to be coincidental: a firestorm erupted over Offerpal and other companies in its niche after TechCrunch's Michael Arrington confronted Shukla while she was on a panel at the Virtual Goods Summit in San Francisco last month. Arrington accused Shukla of running a scam operation that tricks consumers into unwittingly spending money--and of course, he then blogged about it.
Shukla's response to Arrington was "sh*t, double sh*t, and bullsh*t."
But the industry has taken the controversy seriously. Social game makers like the massive Zynga have come out and said that they would ban potentially shady and misleading offers, even though those might make up a sizeable chunk of revenue, and on Tuesday social network MySpace joined the debate and said that it had modified its terms of service to outlaw "app scams."
This post was expanded at 4:55 p.m. PT.