Blyk's CEO switcheroo points to new trend: You have to 'get it'

More is emerging about why ad-supported mobile virtual network operator Blyk abruptly let go of its UK chief at the end of last week. Co-founder and current executive director Antti Öhrling (right) replaced Shaun Gregory, who had only been in the role for 14 months, but said he was leaving for “personal reasons.” He’s already been removed from the corporate site. Blyk has now installed Öhrling, who parachutes in from the company’s spiritual home in Finland where many of its former Nokia executives hail from.

The move can’t have been about money. Blyk just raised €40 million Euros in funding last November, aimed at expansion.

So why did Gregory leave? Privately sources close to the company say that although he was “great to work with”, he “just didn’t ‘get it’ “.

It’s hard to interpret that precisely. But the former senior executive at Emap Radio, joined the Telegraph in October 2006 with a brief to expand its online, TV and mobile operations, as director of new media. However then left only a year later for Blyk.

In other words, there appears to be a reversal of the trends during last dotcom boom and bust. Last time around the old hands from big businesses used to producing ‘real’ revenues were often brought in to failing startups. They called them ‘grey hairs’. What’s happening now is that people who don’t “get” interactive media really are being replaced by people who do, whatever their age or notional experience in traditonal media. You now have to have actually been engaged in social media to be able to lead a company involved in it, not just an executive from a traditional media company with a few scout badges.

As for November’s job loses at Blyk, word on the street is that this was not linked to Gregory’s term but more to the state of the company’s need to cut costs. Blyk’s subscriber numbers are now around the 200,000 mark, peanuts in mobile terms, but it retains advertisers including Coca Cola, L’Oreal and Penguin.