Steve Davis resigns as Corbis’ CEO – Shenk named CEO – Read what Bill Gates wrote about it.
Corbis is the world challenger in the picture industry posting $251 million in revenue in 2006 with 1 100 employes. It is a private corporation, fully owned by Bill Gates as a private investment. If you read magazines, books and newspapers, look for the photographers’ credit and it’s likely that you’ll find the Corbis brand.
Steve Davis had been with the company 14 years, acting CEO for more than 10. He will handover the company leadership to Gary Shenk on July 1st, 2007. Full Corbis press release here. This had been plan for at least a year.
Just as a comment, and after Steve leaves in July, it is interesting to note that 3 (Gary, Jim and Mark) of the 4 members of Corbis future leadership team had been brought in by Bert Sugayan, at the time SVP Strategic Development (and now President of North American operations for Oxford Computer Group). Steve hired me in 1999 to become Corbis France Managing Director in 2000 and Bert brought me in his team in 2003 as EMEA Strategic Development Director.
That is how I met Gary who had just joined in August 2003 in LA. He found new growth opportunities which explains his new role as CEO. Gary’s expertise lies in rights licencing and new media. Some of these opportunities and expertise are the ones we’re developping at Eyeka : a start-up is easy to focus on new business models, however uncertain they may be. Corbis benefits from Bill Gates’ support yet it is a difficult flagship to move. Steve was able to transform the company several times over, from a small internet start-up to a worldwide player. In reference to his future plans, Steve has always been involved in not-for-profit work. He actually started his carreer as a lawyer doing such work abroad.
This is what Steve says about his future plans :
As Bill indicated, I hope to find a new and exciting leadership role in a not-for-profit organization doing important work on issues about which I care deeply. As many of you know, I have been very involved in such work throughout my career, so moving into more of a full-time role now seems very intriguing.
Here is Bill Gates’ email to Corbis Worldwide employees.
I am writing today to make an important announcement about a leadership transition at Corbis. After more than ten years as Corbis’ Chief Executive Officer, Steve Davis has decided to pursue new leadership opportunities in the public service and not-for-profit world. He will leave his role as CEO at the end of June and continue to support me and Gary Shenk as a senior advisor for the coming two years. Steve has been a friend and business partner of mine for 15 years, and while I will miss his leadership at Corbis, I am very excited and proud of Steve as he takes this amazing step in his career.
We have planned for a smooth transition of leadership at Corbis. In this regard, I am very pleased to announce that Gary Shenk will become CEO, effective July 1, 2007. Gary has demonstrated his leadership abilities from the day he joined Corbis in 2003. As the leader of our Rights Services business he set Corbis on a course for industry leadership unmatched by our competitors. As the head of the Images business he has led a game-changing strategy to catch and pass the competition in creative photography while sustaining our leadership in editorial and historical photography.
It is important at this moment in time to celebrate the significant accomplishments Steve has led at Corbis over the years, transforming a small internet startup into a major global brand, launching some of the digital media industry’s most innovative new products and services, and building a great company along the way. I truly believe that Corbis is better positioned for success now than at any time in our history. In 2006, Corbis achieved its highest revenue ever, and we led revenue growth in our industry amongst the major players. Steve has been instrumental in strategically investing in the best pictures, building the deepest, most comprehensive rights offering and expanding our presence globally. Moreover, Steve’s ongoing leadership over the past decade in critical community issues has been widely recognized and will have long-lasting impact.
Under Gary’s leadership, we will now leverage these assets and enhance our business operations to take Corbis to the next level. Gary is a natural leader and an ideal person to assume the role of CEO. He has the energy, focus, discipline and proven track record to take Corbis to new heights as we become the definitive creative resources company for our clients in the advertising, marketing, media and publishing industries.
Over the next three months Steve will support Gary in preparing for a full transition on July 1. All Corbis officers, including Sue McDonald, Jim Mitchell and Steve Lodis, will report to Gary in his role as president, effective today.
Please join me in congratulating both Steve and Gary.