Compliance vendor LRN abruptly parted ways with its new chief executive officer Thursday, after only four months on the job.
Numerous sources say Matthew Blumberg, who joined LRN at the end of September, resigned Thursday morning with no advance notice. LRN later released a statement saying Blumberg “is leaving LRN” with no further detail about why. The statement did add: “The LRN board of directors expresses appreciation to Matt for his work at LRN and his help with this transition… LRN wishes Matt Blumberg the best in his next endeavors.”
David Greenberg, a senior executive at LRN for more than a decade, will be interim CEO while the board searches for a permanent successor.
Blumberg’s LinkedIn profile pushed his four-month stint at LRN to the bottom of the page, and says he became CEO of “R&R Inc.” this month. (One assumes that stands for rest & relaxation.) Blumberg also maintains a personal blog, OnlyOnceBlog.com, where he scrubbed references to LRN that had been there as recently as Thursday midday.
Attempts to reach Blumberg directly have been unsuccessful.
Blumberg joined LRN on Sept. 26. At the time, the company said he would “lead the global expansion of LRN and drive the next phase of innovation in LRN’s ethics and compliance solutions.” LRN was also quick to praise the “people first, values-based culture” Blumberg nurtured at Return Path, an email analytics business he founded in 1999 and ran for 20 years.
Blumberg’s departure raises eyebrows for several reasons. First, any time a CEO leaves after only four months on the job, you have to wonder whether personalities clashed, expectations before the hire differed from the reality after it, or some other circumstance emerged that couldn’t be reconciled.
Second, Blumberg was LRN’s first major hire after the company received a big infusion of private equity 13 months ago — and the hire didn’t work out. That’s an awkward misstep to happen in front of your new private equity overlords. (LRN has never confirmed whether the PE firm, Leeds Capital, took a controlling interest in the business; but it has never said Leeds didn’t, either.)
LRN is a quirky company. It was founded in 1994 by Dov Seidman, a renowned figure in corporate ethics and learning, who pumps out a steady stream of thought-provoking and uplifting tweets about the importance of morality in society and business. Seidman is still chairman of LRN and a larger-than-life figure there, so working within that shadow must bring challenges.
What does all this mean for ethics and compliance professionals? Probably not much on a day-to-day basis. Blumberg was supposed to lead LRN’s global expansion (thank you, private equity infusion) and those plans presumably will be delayed.
LRN also praised Greenberg, the interim CEO, with this:
David, through his track record as a chief ethics & compliance officer, public company board member and private company CEO, has a deep understanding of the LRN partner and client community and of the firm’s business. He will help LRN continue its growth, global expansion and innovation in its work helping companies and their people meet legal, regulatory and compliance requirements and live up to their ethical and societal commitments. Dov Seidman, LRN founder and chairman, remains deeply involved with the company and its important mission.
That’s all true. I’ve met Greenberg several times, and recorded a podcast with him last July about chief ethics and compliance officers serving on corporate boards. He’s a great, thoughtful person about ethics and compliance issues and knows his way around LRN.
Anyway, that’s the news from vendor land today.