December 28, 2006 6:05 PM PST

Guba CEO steps down, says more execs may follow

Guba CEO Thomas McInerney has stepped down from the video-sharing site, marking the second executive shuffle within the sector in a week.

McInerney told CNET News.com that two other Guba executives are likely to follow him. After co-founding the company nine years ago, McInerney said the time has come for a new pursuit and to "let go."

He also spoke about how some Guba executives are re-evaluating the potential rewards of competing in a sector dominated by YouTube. Nearly half of everyone who logs on at user-submitted video sites go to YouTube, the company acquired by Google in October for $1.65 billion.

"I think we can all acknowledge that YouTube has won the big prize," McInerney said. "Guba is at a crossroads, and we're deciding whether to look for funding or to sell. I think we're inclined to sell."

McInerney said members of his executive team are considering whether to step down. The reason, McInerney said, is that Guba stands little chance of striking an acquisition deal as lucrative as YouTube's.

"The billion-dollar opportunity has kind of passed," McInerney said. "(The executives) are bright, and they're interested in going for the gold."

Adriana Gascoigne, Guba's spokeswoman, declined to comment on whether anyone other than McInerney is leaving the company.

Revver, one of Guba's competitors, saw co-founders Oliver Luckett and Ian Clarke, as well as an undisclosed number of employees, depart that company last week. Steven Starr, the lone remaining co-founder, remains as CEO.

The shakeups come at a time when video sharing is supposed to be the hottest segment in digital entertainment, thanks mostly to YouTube's massive success. But some analysts are skeptical about whether video-sharing companies can make money and question whether advertisers will want their brands associated with content that is sometimes vulgar, violent and boring.

Eric Lambrecht, who co-founded Guba with McInerney and is currently chief technology officer, is taking over as CEO on an interim basis, Goscoigne said. McInerney, 34, said Guba has operated on a profit and that he and Lambrecht have avoided accepting venture capital.

McInerney, who said Guba is looking for a "heavy hitter" chief executive to replace him, was actively trying to sell Guba earlier this year, according to numerous sources.

The company appeared to have strong links to Hollywood studios when Warner Bros. Entertainment and Sony Pictures agreed this summer to allow the company to offer their movies for download. Instead, Sony opted to acquire rival Grouper in August for $65 million.

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