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CEO splits with WeddingChannel over moving plans

The wedding-planning site says its chief executive and three members of her executive staff have stepped down as the company makes plans to relocate most of its San Francisco operations.

Wedding-planning sites DellaWeddings and WeddingChannel.com promised a blissful co-existence after they merged last spring, but it appears now that the partnership may be suffering from a seven-month itch.

The combined company, which kept the WeddingChannel brand name, said Friday that chief executive Rebecca Patton, the former chief executive of Della, has stepped down. While Patton will stay on with WeddingChannel as a member of its board of directors, three members of her executive team, also all former Della employees, have resigned, the company said.

Adam Berger, WeddingChannel's former president, was named chief executive of the combined company, which offers online wedding planning and gift registries.

Amid a rash of dot-com closures and layoffs, many companies have sought answers to their problems by replacing their leadership. Executive shake-ups have become relatively commonplace among Internet companies.

WeddingChannel spokeswoman Lindsay Loudon denied that the company forced Patton and her staff out. She said the resignations were the result of the company's plan to move most of its San Francisco operations to Los Angeles, where WeddingChannel is based. Della was based in San Francisco before the merger.

Patton and the three other executives were unwilling to move, Loudon said. But the company decided it made more sense to operate most of its business out of one location, she said.

WeddingChannel's sales office will remain in San Francisco, and Della's former vice president of sales will stay on at WeddingChannel.

When Della and WeddingChannel married their operations in April, they brought together some of Silicon Valley's most powerful and moneyed investors.

Internet incubator Idealab, Dell Computer founder Michael Dell, and Federated Department stores, the parent company of Macy's, Bloomingdale's and Rich's, were investors in WeddingChannel. Amazon.com, Tiffany & Co. and venture capital stalwart Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers were among the investors in Della.

That kind of firepower has helped make the combined concern one of the largest in the crowded online wedding-planning and gift registry industry. Some of WeddingChannel's competitors are The Knot and The Wedding Network.

Having well-heeled backers has also kept the company's coffers filled while others run dry, Loudon said.

"We will be able to operate with our existing cash for several more years without additional funding," she said.