Enliven Taps Kliger as CEO

Newly independent Enliven has brought in its original founder — and a
player in its continued financing — to head up its operations until a new
chief executive is found.

Scott Kliger, a partner at Sage Hill Partners and one of Enliven’s
original founders, will head up the company as interim CEO as it seeks to
find stable ground amid a rough market for online ad plays. Sage Hill
provided financing to the company after its February spin-off from
[email protected], which cited a need to shore up its own operations and cut
expenses.

It is not known whether Kliger’s appointment comes as a result of the
earlier funding, as Waltham, Mass.-based Enliven has declined to disclose
its details.

Kliger, who started Enliven in 1995 as Narrative Communications, will
oversee the company’s management team (including president Frank Kashner) in
what he described as a transitional period.

“This is an exciting opportunity to dive back into a company I truly
believe in and built,” Kliger said. “I am looking forward to working with
the major players in our space to advance the use of rich media in
interactive advertising.”

The word choice is deliberate. Enliven is actually planning to distance
itself from the troubled “Internet” rich media industry by expanding its
product line under the larger rubric of “interactive” advertising — in
other words, wireless and interactive television.

Kashner hinted at such moves in a February interview with
InternetNews.com. But with Kliger on board, the company’s giving signs that
wireless and iTV efforts are a definitely priority.

It’s quite a change for the hitherto rich media-focused firm, one of the
earliest players in the field. And it’s a gutsy one, since both fields are
already rife with competitors. Aside from the expanding ad networks,
Enliven faces competition from a swarm of platform-specific players, like
iTV firm ACTV and wireless ad firms WindWire and SkyGo.

Nevertheless, Kliger remains optimistic about the company’s prospects.

“The time is right,” he said. “Enliven has the most complete set of rich
media solutions available today, a seasoned management team and the
technology to elevate Web advertising to a new level of effectiveness and
reach.”

Aside from the enthusiasm, Kliger brings his financial experience and
contacts from Sage Hill, in addition to his tech expertise as one of
Enliven’s original developers. Before he left the company to pursue a
career in venture capital, Kliger had served as Enliven’s chief technical
officer, and had built the firm’s original rich media ad platform.

By announcing that it would expand its product offerings to wireless and
iTV, Enliven continues an industry-wide trend to move away from the stormy
Web advertising arena into nascent related fields.

The move had really been begun months earlier by the larger ad networks
like DoubleClick and 24/7 Media, who all have announced wireless and iTV
initiatives. But it’s gaining additional steam as of late: earlier this
week, the online ad industry’s largest association — the Internet
Advertising Bureau — announced that it would become the “Interactive
Advertising Bureau.” A subtle change, but one that perhaps speaks volumes
about where the industry thinks its future fortunes lay.

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