In response to allegations of a conflict of interests, Jeffrey Tobias, chief executive of distributor Dataflow, has resigned from the board of etailing startup smartbuy.com.au.
With old-world distributor Dataflow recently receiving a round of venture capital investment from the same source as new kid smartbuy.com.au, ructions were starting to occur among Dataflow's customers because of a possible conflict of interest.
Tobias moved quickly to "allay any fears" that this might be the case. "I am resigning from the board (of smartbuy), effective immediately," Tobias said. "Life is too short for the hassles it has created for me.
"Dataflow's business model is not changing. We are a distributor and one of he chief roles of a distributor is fulfilment. I have resigned to ensure that any perceived conflict of interest goes away.
"Dataflow is only doing the fulfilment side of the smartbuy.com.au equation. It has no intention of getting into retailing and competing against its existing customers.
"The fundamental issue here is, are we setting up in competition to our customers? I can unequivocally say that neither I, nor the board, nor any of its shareholders have any desire to do that."
Tobias said that part of Dataflow's mission is to make sure that it can do fulfilment in the way that its customers want it done. The mode of distribution is changing and new methods are unfolding, he said.
"There is no change to Dataflow's mission," Tobias said. "And there is every likelihood that in the future we will have fulfilment opportunities for half a dozen or more ecommerce retailers. I can't control who their investors will be."