Bye-Bye iVillage

SAN FRANCISCO (04/28/2000) - With the announcement yesterday that its chief financial officer is quitting, iVillage lost its second high-level executive in the space of just one week.

Craig Monaghan, who had been with the New York-based women's site since June 1998, is leaving to become the finance chief of AutoNation, a Fortune 100 automotive retailer, which he says is too good an opportunity to pass up.

A week ago, Allison Abraham, iVillage's chief operating officer, announced that she is leaving to become president of the e-mail marketing company LifeMinders.com. The timing of the departures is likely to draw even more intrigue to iVillage, which many outside the company view as a media darling and many inside view as the object of unfair speculation and rumor.

Just 10 days ago, a story in the Silicon Alley Daily Reporter, a trade publication based in New York, reported that "a management shake-up" surrounding iVillage's "fiery" CEO, Candice Carpenter, was imminent. The paper claimed that top executives at the company had gone to board members with an ultimatum, threatening to leave if Carpenter didn't. Both Monaghan and Abraham say that story isn't true. They had only complimentary things to say about Carpenter; however, Monaghan acknowledged that he did not always agree with the CEO.

Last year, for example, he objected to the proposed acquisition of two companies at roughly the same time as the company's IPO. Looking back, he says, the decision to do so was right. His decision to leave the company, he adds, was made with "real mixed feelings - I'm not leaving because I'm in conflict with Candice." Monaghan is the company's fifth CFO, though he plays down the turnover, saying it's not as "alarming" as it might sound.

He also says the company's loss statements can be misleading, reflecting the charges it must take because of acquisitions. In fact, he says, iVillage is well-positioned. "Our net income has deteriorated because we've been buying all these Net companies," he says. "Our revenues are growing much more rapidly than our costs." In another major management development, iVillage announced last week that it is hiring one of its board members, Doug McCormick, to be president, a newly created position. CEO Carpenter will assume a more strategic role as a result, the company said.

In an interview, Carpenter said that bringing in a president reflects iVillage's growth and success, not any difficulties. The site, which is targeting profitability for the middle of next year, is among those whose stock has fallen to earth, plunging to $10 at the end of trading today from a high of more than $113. "We're building something. Building something of quality is never instant," Carpenter said. "I don't think you bring in a Doug McCormick - unless you feel pretty confident the future is great."

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