Jupiter Media Metrix Scouting For CEO

NEW YORK — Tod Johnson is stepping down as chief executive of Jupiter Media Metrix Inc., the company said, amid a tougher business environment for the Internet research-and-measurement firm.

The decision to seek a new CEO for Jupiter Media Metrix (JMXI) is part of an overall strategy to better integrate the two firms, a company spokeswoman said. Mr. Johnson, 54 years old, will remain chairman.

Mr. Johnson had been CEO of Media Metrix, an Internet-measurement service, before its acquisition last year of market-research firm Jupiter Research, at which time he became chief of the combined company. Aside from his role at Jupiter Media Metrix, Mr. Johnson also is CEO of NPD Group and will remain in that job. Media Metrix was an offshoot of NPD, a closely held retail market-research firm.

In a prepared statement, Mr. Johnson said that serving as CEO of both NPD and Jupiter Media Metrix wasn’t tenable. “I have recently informed the board that … today’s market conditions make it increasingly difficult for me to remain as the CEO of two companies,” he said.

Jupiter, which laid off 8%, or 80, of its employees in February, has recently cut its annual revenue-growth expectations from 50% in late 2000 to around 10%, according to Ashish Thadhani, an analyst with Brean Murray & Co. in New York.

“The move acknowledges the new environment, which calls for more structure within the management ranks,” said Mr. Thadhani. “It’s a positive because the company has had some difficulty in the integration of its acquisition of Jupiter.”

Jupiter said it has retained Korn/Ferry International to find a replacement CEO. There are no internal candidates for the position and Mr. Johnson will stay on as interim CEO during the search, the company said.

In addition, Jupiter said that it is creating an executive-operating committee made up of Kurt Abrahamson, head of U.S. business and world-wide sales, Mary Ann Packo, head of international business and world-wide strategic marketing, and Jean Robinson, chief financial officer. They will report to Mr. Johnson.

The announcement was made after the close of regular trading. In 4 p.m. trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market, shares of Jupiter Media Metrix were up 25 cents to $4.56. The stock hit a 52-week high of $47.88 last March.

Copyright (c) 2001 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.