George Shirk, who has been editor in chief of the online technology news site since 1998, will be replaced by Managing Editor Alison Macondray on an interim basis. A Terra Lycos representative declined to comment on whether the company is looking for a replacement and would not offer a timeframe for the length of Macondray's appointment.
"As of right now, we just know Alison will be in the interim," said Stacy Finkel, a Terra Lycos spokeswoman. "I don't know what's going to happen to the position."
Shirk's resignation is the second announcement this week to affect Wired News. German media giant Bertelsmann announced Tuesday that it wants to renegotiate its $675 million advertising agreement with Terra Lycos. Bertelsmann in 2000 signed a $1 billion advertising deal with an initial $325 million to be spent through October 2002. Bertelsmann has the option to renegotiate the remaining $675 million. At the time the deal was signed, Terra Lycos' largest shareholder, Spanish telecom giant Telefonica, said it would commit to making up the difference.
But times have changed. The news has sparked concerns among financial analysts covering the company that Terra Lycos will most likely be negatively affected.
"It is highly unlikely that Bertelsmann will continue with its original plans, and a sharp reduction should be expected," Bosco Ojeda, an analyst with UBS Warburg, wrote in an investor note Tuesday.
The focus of concern will also be on Lycos North America, where most of Bertelsmann's advertising dollars are going. Wired News is part of Lycos' network of ad-supported Web sites.