Nuzzo Out of Engage Top Spot

Online marketing technology firm Engage has a new top executive, following the surprise resignation of Tony Nuzzo and his replacement by an executive from the company’s majority owner, CMGI.

Taking Nuzzo’s place as interim chief executive and president will be Chris Cuddy, who previously held the post of vice president of corporate development at the Internet holding company.

As of Monday, Cuddy assumes interim responsibility for the mammoth task of righting the Andover, Mass.-based company, which the past months have seen radically alter its focus and raison d’etre — discontinuing its ad network and media sales operations and selling its e-mail and research practices.

Now, Engage concentrates entirely on providing advertising technology to online and offline publishers, in hopes that this field will prove more stable than the weak Internet ad market.

In the meantime, Engage said its board is in the process of finding a permanent replacement for Nuzzo. It is not known how long Cuddy is expected to be at the firm, and the company gave few clues during its quarterly conference call.

But in the meantime — and fortunately for Engage — Cuddy has some experience in the area. Before joining CMGI, Cuddy had a hand in launching rich media ad firm Bluestreak, where he serves on the board of advisors. Cuddy also served as a partner at Computer Sciences Corporation’s management consulting group.

“Having served as an advisor to Engage for more than a year, Chris brings to its executive team a keen understanding of its needs as a growing software business,” said CMGI chairman and chief executive David Wetherell, who also serves as Engage’s chairman. “Complemented by his experience as a management consultant and software entrepreneur, we’re confident Chris can add significant momentum to Engage’s future direction.”

Nuzzo had been in the post since November, when he replaced Paul Schaut, who had overseen Engage’s lengthy string of online marketing and advertising acquisitions — including Flycast, I/PRO and Exactis. Nuzzo will remain at Engage through the end of the week to assist with the transition, the company said.

“Tony has led Engage through a year of significant transition, which included exiting its media business, and has laid a foundation for the company as a marketing software concern,” Wetherell said. “We are grateful for Tony’s contributions and commitment and wish him the best of all things to come, both professionally and personally.”

At any rate, Cuddy not only will fill Nuzzo’s position, he also takes over the reigns as Engage reports its fourth fiscal quarter, which ended in July.

Because the company has changed so radically, straight quarter-to-quarter comparisons are difficult. The company said it saw a before-charges loss of $7.3 million during fourth quarter, or $0.04 per share, though it did not provide comparable numbers for the previous quarter.

Including amortization costs, the company saw a whopping $331 million loss during fourth quarter, equivalent to $1.68 per share — more than half of which is attributable to write-downs of goodwill still remaining from Engage’s acquired, now discontinued, businesses.

Last quarter, the firm posted a net loss of $76.6 million, or $0.39 per share, on $12.6 million in revenue.

Yet there is some undeniably good news for the company. Engage said it inked a new credit agreement with CMGI, which, along with the company’s $33.3 million in cash from its various asset sales, is expected to help it reach profitability.

The company’s future had been in question since August, when it said that CMGI had opted not to renew its $50 million annual financing agreement.

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