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Wired founder to give up CEO title

Wired Ventures founder Louis Rossetto will step down as CEO, the company says. In addition, a key editor is leaving Wired magazine.

Wired Ventures, publisher of Wired magazine, books, and Internet content, announced today that it has begun a search for a new chief executive.

Louis Rossetto, founder and current chief executive, will step down from the company's daily operations once a new CEO is found. He will remain chairman and continue to serve as editor and publisher of Wired magazine, as well as being involved in new product development, according to the company.

At the same time, John Battelle, deputy editor and a founding staff member of Wired, is leaving the company to pursue a publishing venture, company spokesman Don Markley said. In the last six months, he said the company's workforce has declined by 25 people, to 300.

Markley said neither the company's investors, nor its board of directors, requested that Rossetto step down from his CEO post.

"As the company has grown, it's been difficult for him to wear that many hats," Markley said. "He wanted someone with experience to take the company to the next level."

He noted that Rossetto chose the publisher's role over the CEO position because he felt more "comfortable" in that area.

The change in the CEO role comes at a time that the privately held company claims to have increased its revenues by 36 percent in the first half of this year over 1996 levels.

After initial plans to go public last year, Wired Ventures pulled its IPO, citing unfavorable market conditions. In its prospectus, the company reported that it posted a $42.8 million loss during the first nine months in 1996, compared with a loss of $3.3 million a year earlier. In January, the company secured a $21.5 million capital infusion from institutional investors.