Shake-Ups

Gilt Groupe Names New CEO: Former Travelocity CEO Michelle Peluso

Ms. Peluso (Photo: Working World)

Earlier this afternoon, Gilt Groupe named a new CEO to replace founder (and current CEO) Kevin Ryan. Michelle Peluso, formerly the president and CEO of Travelocity, will take the top slot at the flash deals site beginning in February. Ms. Peluso, who currently serves as the chief marketing and Internet officer at Citigroup, is also the only outside member of Gilt Groupe’s board who isn’t an investor. She joined the board in October 2009.

“There aren’t that many people that you would trust to become CEO of a company that you’ve spent five years building and that has a thousand people,” Mr. Ryan told Betabeat by phone. “She’s always been my first choice. But in the process, midway through, you can’t say ‘Oh my God, I really want Michelle,’ because she hasn’t said yes yet; we haven’t made an offer yet.” Read More

Shakeups

Kevin Ryan Asks Jetsetter CEO Drew Patterson to Step Down After ‘Mutiny’ From Staffers

Mr. Patterson via @jetsetdrew

Gilt Groupe founder Kevin Ryan and chairman Susan Lyne spent Monday at the offices of Jetsetter, a deals site for luxury travel that operates independently under the Gilt Groupe umbrella. When the day was done, the Jetsetter board, where Mr. Ryan serves as chairman, approved a bold decision in response to an exodus of six senior executives and pervasive frustration among Jetsetter’s nearly 90 employees. “More than half of us are looking to leave within the next month, at which point the business won’t be operational,” a Jetsetter employee told Betabeat last week, recounting “mutiny” among staffers.

“Drew [Patterson, the company’s CEO and cofounder] is going to step down effective immediately,” Mr. Ryan told Betabeat by phone this morning. In his stead, Mr. Ryan named Rob Deeming, Gilt Groupe’s director of strategy and operations, and Mr. Ryan’s former “chief of staff,” as acting general manager of Jetsetter. Mr. Deeming had been in charge of Jetsetter’s UK office, which was launched last September.

Mr. Ryan said the change at the top was motivated by turnover and morale. “Too many people have left. When you’re the CEO, you’re responsible for that. We’ve had a lot of communication over the last six months on this issue. At a certain point, for myself, you make a change.”

Interviews with staffers, who spoke under condition of anonymity last week, painted the picture of a company hampered by Mr. Patterson’s and CTO Colin Kroll’s unwillingness to listen to and implement other people’s ideas–at the expense of employees eager to grow the brand. The initiatives that the duo had put forward, such as a UK office, had flopped, sources said. “They talk to themselves and they think they’re smarter than everybody, but they don’t know how their customer works,” said another Jetsetter staffer, referring to Mr. Patterson and Mr. Kroll. “We have great members, we want to keep them happy.” Read More

Fresh Capital

Susan Lyne Joins Female Angels Backing Levo League, LinkedIn for Ladies, for $1 M.

Levo League founders Caroline Ghosn and Amanda Pouchot. (Facebook)

Levo League, the professional network for women of Generation Y, sounds like it took a page from Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office. “You’e a go-getter,” the site says, in stark white-on-black lettering. “Connect with women like you.” The New York startup just finished its angel round, collecting $1 million from Susan Lyne, Chairman, Gilt Groupe;  Gina Bianchini, founder and CEO of Ning; Fran Hauser, president of digital for Time Inc.’s style and entertainment and lifestyle groups, and others.

Though the round wasn’t raised only from women–Tom Cohen, PTC Advisors and Gen Y Capital Partners, joined as well–it’s an unusually high number of lady angels in one place. Women make up “maybe 5 percent, maybe worse” of the 3,100 investors on AngelList, cofounder Naval Ravikant told PEHub in a piece about the dearth of female angels yesterday. Read More