The Internet access provider today said that its former chief executive, Tom Jermoluk, will step down from his role as chairman of the board and hand over the title to current CEO George Bell.
Jermoluk will remain an active member of Excite@Home's board of directors, the company said.
"Tom has done an amazing job of bringing this company to where it is today," Bell said in a statement. "We will continue to work closely with Tom as a board member and count on his continued wisdom as we grow the franchise."
Jermoluk's decision comes amid an executive exodus at the company. As first reported by CNET News.com, the departures come at a critical time in the company's strategic direction. Excite@Home plans to invest heavily next year in its broadband services and to step back from pumping resources into its narrowband services, such as the Excite.com portal. The combination of this new strategy and the company's ailing stock may be contributing to executive departures.
The move is not surprising given the management shifts that have occurred at the company this year. Since the merger of @Home and Excite.com last summer, rumors spread that Jermoluk was considering stepping out of his role as chief executive. In January, Jermoluk relinquished his title as CEO to Bell so that he could focus more on improving the company's relationships with its cable partners.
But since the executive shift, Excite@Home has also undergone a number of key structural changes that have diminished the need for Jermoluk's role. In March, AT&T, Excite@Home's largest shareholder, essentially took control of the company's board and scrapped plans to spin off the Excite.com portal as a separate tracking stock. In addition, AT&T agreed to use Excite@Home as its broadband Net provider, though not necessarily exclusively, until 2008; Comcast and Cox agreed to carry Excite@Home's services, though not necessarily exclusively, until 2006.
"Now that (Jermoluk) has extended the contracts, and now that AT&T owns the company for the most part, the need for that role is not there anymore," said Abhishek Gami, an analyst at William Blair.
Jermoluk has also focused more closely on his personal investments in Internet start-ups. His investments include SmartPipes, which provides broadband services to businesses; Kibu, a Web site for teenage girls; financial services site MyCFO; and Shutterfly, Net entrepreneur Jim Clark's online photo processing company.