May 31, 2006 5:22 PM PDT

Dot-com exec gadfly Philip Kaplan cedes own CEO spot

Philip Kaplan, who ran the controversial Web site F***edCompany during the dot-com bust, has stepped aside as CEO of a small, profitless start-up he founded in 2004.

Kaplan, 30, told CNET News.com on Wednesday that he made the decision to turn AdBrite, which sells online advertising, over to "professional management." While he said he wasn't forced out, he acknowledged that his board of directors didn't try to dissuade him from stepping down.

"I suggested it, and there was no push back," Kaplan said with a smile. "I really wanted an expert to come in and help run AdBrite."

Philip Kaplan

AdBrite is expected to announce Thursday that Ignacio Fanlo, a former executive at an e-commerce site that was lambasted on F***edCompany.com, is AdBrite's new CEO. Kaplan said he will stay on to oversee AdBrite's products.

Kaplan's critics, whom he acknowledges are numerous, are likely to cheer the news. He said he knows that many executives ridiculed by their employees on his combustible message board will say Kaplan fared no better at running a company than they did.

Six years ago this month, Kaplan emerged as an unlikely player in Silicon Valley with F***edCompany. But last year, the one-time executive tormentor jumped sides and became an executive. In a photo that accompanied a story in The Wall Street Journal about his new company, he no longer looked liked "Pud," his user name on F***edCompany. He had given up his bleached hair, cowboy boots and concert T-shirts for sport coats and Ralph Lauren dress shirts.

AdBrite bills itself as a marketplace where advertisers can choose to place ads on thousands of Internet publishers. The company is after a slice of the booming online advertising market, which grew to $12.5 billion last year from $1 billion in 1997. In the first quarter of 2006, Web advertising grew 38 percent to $3.9 billion, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

Kaplan defended his 18-month tenure as AdBrite's chief executive. The company is profitless, but it just received $8 million in a second round of funding, he said. In the past six months, AdBrite has seen the number of publishers offering space to advertisers grow to 16,000. In the same span of time, the company has almost doubled its staff size from 25 to 43.

Kaplan had run other companies before AdBrite, including a Web design firm. But he never before had answered to a board of directors or found himself managing a staff of 40. He said his experience as a CEO has altered his view of what it takes to successfully steer a company. He even had to fire an employee although he refuses to discuss it.

Got views on Vista?

"I guess back then I never thought it through from management's perspective," Kaplan said of his days writing at F***edCompany. "I wrote purely from the perspective of the employees who were getting lied to and ripped off. It came from the employees. Now, I see how hard it is. I understand how a company works from management's perspective."

Asked when AdBrite might become profitable, Fanlo said the company will unlikely need any more venture capital. Fanlo, the former president of Shopping.com and an executive at e-commerce site DealTime, said it gave him pause before taking the job to learn that Kaplan was the founder. But Kaplan won him over.

"He's very passionate and creative," said Fanlo, 44. "Technology is all about new ideas. You need smart engineers, smart marketing types, but you have to have creative people and let them flourish."

"Pud" said he has no regrets, however.

"No, I'm not sorry about anything I wrote," Kaplan says of his days as Pud. "Much of what executives at dot-coms did back then was wrong. I'll always think it's wrong to lie to employees. We've never done that here."

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17 comments

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What a Shmuck!
This guy bad mouthed any dot com (including mine), and can't do any better himself. Best he could do is quit after losing money for 18months.

Look who is F***ed now.
Posted by Godxilla (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
PUD SPAMS HIS OWN BOARD
After the last 1-2 yrs of watching the retching wall:wall spam on his board so he could boost his Alexa ratings, I say GOOD RIDDANCE. He even super-spammed it a few days ago in a last ditch effort.

Note: I have no doubt the Adbrite 'employees' were actually employed to do just that - spam ALL DAY AND NIGHT with transparent trolls.

Ergo, pre-Adbrite, the bbs board moved normally - around 30-90 minutes front page. In the early AM, it was HOURS on the front page. Adbrite comes along, then come the paid spam-trolls, who endeavored to keep it at 10 minutes.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://bbs.*************.com/index.cgi?okay=get_topic&#38;topic_id=1042232&#38;page=0" target="_newWindow">http://bbs.*************.com/index.cgi?okay=get_topic&#38;topic_id=1042232&#38;page=0</a>
FRAUD!
Posted by PUD_IS_A_SPAMMER (5 comments )
Link Flag
OMFG
F***... do we actually still care about this?
Posted by didomusicuk (2 comments )
Link Flag
What a Shmuck!
This guy can't run his own company after years of bad mouthing dot coms. He spent 18 months burning thru investment capital and unprofitable.

Look who is f***ed now...
Posted by Godxilla (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What goes around comes around
As much as I've enjoyed reading F***edcompany through the years, there's always that possibility that it would come back in a big way. Sadly, the news came today and it was so sudden, I could not believe as it came inside me, it brought a lot of memories of the hundreds of companies/ceo's he "roasted" over the years. One was Deejay (Sanjay) Toast who ran Kiwigirl Enterprises, an online IT temp agency that was the subject of a HFSC zinger from Pud and it was classic. He made remarked how the enterprise was a bad as a pea rolling out after a biological function. It was hiliarious and classic Pud. Hope he doesn't end up at e-headinthesand like some of his minions had predicted. Bless you Pud.
Posted by suntoryboss (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Message has been deleted.
Posted by Autumray6 (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Employee#24?
heh
Posted by PUD_IS_A_SPAMMER (5 comments )
Link Flag
Oops, silly me =)
Whatever was I thinking? I've never had a post deleted on me
before... I must've gotten careless. This time, I won't make the
mistake of referring to the 'REAL WINNERS' (who have so
goodnatured-ly called Philip a "shmuck") -as retar**d jer**ffs.
That was wrong of me, as it is obvious they are the most
intellectually gifted individuals to ever flop their businesses and
fail their companies. Especially the one who mentioned
obsessing over Philip's company for the last year or so, and is
thrilled at the ostensible failure in AdBrite's future... that poster
is a genius. Clearly.
Please, forgive me gentlemen... how foolish of me to come
here and defend the man and business you despise for giving
your employees a place to publicly voice their opinions about
you... I'd like the chance to redeem myself. =)
-To the incredibly sagacious poster who accused Mr. Kaplan of
"bad mouthing any dot com (including mine) and can't do any
better himself" ...you poor, neglected man. How unfairly you've
been treated!!! It's not right =( Not at all! Worse yet, he
actually is doing better himself, as his company has grown
unexpectedly large in a very short period of time. Of course, I
didn't realize that Philip personally lambasted every business
that was talked about on his site, I was somehow misreading it
wasn't I? ...mistakingly believing it was the (ex)employees doing
the bashing. - But, we all know, you sir, represent a paradigm of
honesty and truth, not to mention how astutely perspicacious
you so obviously are.
I've tailored my earlier post, to protect those (pwecious 'wittle
feewings') we mentioned last time, ok? I'll put the adjustments
in all caps =)
------------------------------------------------
Sorry that you WONDERFUL MEN were pilloried and
humiliated by your own mistreated employees; but don't get too
aroused hoping for better man's demise just yet... lest your lack
of forsight &#38; intuition make laughable HEROS of you (yet again.)
Philip is a remarkable kind of brilliant... if you could've seen
Adbrite before he got it to where it is; you'd be a little more
respectful. You TOTALLY AWESOME little CUTIE PIES are taking
offense to a successful business idea he had. Do you honestly
think he sought out to destroy you... some personal vitriolic
attack on you and your business? Being BIG SPORTS about it just
makes F***'d Company that much funnier to the rest of us.
Grow up.
Not that I'd want to burst your happy little snot-bubble of
joy or anything, just the opinion of someone who has seen the
beautiful new office and it's employee's at work: He's too good
at playing start-up genius to waste his time and talent on
corporate politics. He and several other very respectable men
already led the company in its most critical and tumultuous
time. AdBrite is a success, there's increasingly more business
for them coming in faster than they can keep up with- though
you may not want to hear that.
So while you can be NOBLE and RESPECTFUL and spend your
time filled with visceral hatred and jealousy; just know that a
better man has just cleared a section of his schedule to start
another great idea, or to play guitar and break dance all day-
who knows. Learn to let go and enjoy what is left of your life.
Anger is a choice. =)
Have a pleasant day.
=D
-Rachel
Posted by Autumray6 (6 comments )
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