More changes have been announced in the senior leadership of French pro-privacy search engine, Qwant.
President and co-founder, Eric Leandri( visualized above ), will be moving from an operational to a tactical capacity on January 15, the company said today — while current deputy managing director for sales and sell, Jean-Claude Ghinozzi, is being promoted to president.
Leandri will leave the president role on January 15, although he is not departing the business entirely but will instead switch to chair a strategic and technical committee — where he says he will focus on technology and” strategic perception “.
This committee will work with a brand-new governance council, too being announced today, which will be chaired by Antoine Troesch, speculation head of Qwant investor, Banque des Territories, per the PR.
At the same time, Mozilla veteran Tristan Nitot — who was only promoted to a brand-new CEO role at Qwant in September — is returning to his prior profession as VP of advocacy. Although Leandri told us that Nitot will retain the spokesman component of the CEO job, leaving Ghinozzi to focus on monetization — which he said is Qwant’s top priority now.
“[ Nitot] is now manager VP in charge of communications and media ,” Leandri told TechCrunch.” He has to take care of company advocacy. Because of my difference he will have now to represent Qwant in[ the media ]. He is likely to be the utter of Qwant. But that situate will give him not enough space and time to be the full-time CEO of the company — doing both is quite impossible. I have done that for years … but it’s very complicated .”
” We is now time need to focus a lot on monetization and on our core business … to create a real ad platform ,” he contributed, by way of explaining the latest round of exec restructuring.” This needs to have somebody in charge of doing that monetization process — that hanging process of the scale of Qwant .”
Ghinozzi will be responsible for developing a” new phase” for the search engine so it can scale its business in Europe, Leandri also said, adding:” For my own part I take over the policy and the tech, and I’m a member of the human rights committee .”
The search engine company is also announcing that it’s closing a new funding round to support infrastructure and scaling — including taking in more financing from existing backers Banque des Territories and publishing being Axel Springer — saying it expects this to be finalized next month.
Leandri would not provide details on the size of the round today but French story website Liberation is reporting it as EUR1 0M, quoting a government source.( Per other reports in the French media Qwant has been losing tens of millions of euros per year .)
Qwant’s co-founder did path some” very good announcements” he said are coming imminently on the user growth front in France, applicable to brand-new civil corporations swapping to the search engine. But again he decreased to publicly approve full details at the present stage — saying the bulletin would be confirmed in around a week’s time.
Liberation‘s report points to this being confirmation that the French regime will go ahead with making Qwant the default search engine across the administration — causing its produce a increase of( likely) millions more regular consumers, and potentially opening be made available to more government funding.
The move by the French administration aligns with a wider push for digital sovereignty in a bid to avoid being too reliant on foreign tech giants. However, in recent months, suspense had been propelled on the government’s plan to switch wholesale from Google’s search engine to the homegrown search alternative — after local media raised questions over the qualifications of Qwant’s search results.
The government has been conducting its own technological review of Qwant’s search engine. But, per Liberation — which says it obtained an internal authority memoranda earlier this month — the swap will go ahead, and is slated to be completed by the end of April.
Qwant has faced further unpleasant press scrutiny on its home turf in recent months, with additional reports in French media indicating the business has been facing a revenue crunch — after its privacy-respecting search engine rendered lower than anticipated receipts last year.
On this Leandri told us Qwant’s issue simmers down to a lack of ad inventory, saying it will be Ghinozzi’s job to tackle that by making sure it can monetize more of the present intuitions it’s engendering — such as by are concentrated on providing more ads against shopping-related searches, while continuing to preserve its core privacy/ non-tracking promise to users.
The business was focused last year on putting in place search engine infrastructure to prepare for scaling user growth in Europe, he recommended — definition it was spending little period on monetizing user searches.
” We started to refocus on the monetization in November and December ,” he said.” So we have lost some months in terms of monetization … Now we have started to accelerate our monetization stage and we need now to make it even better in shopping, for example .”
Leandri claims Qwant has already seen” a very good ramp up”, after turning its attention back to monetization these past two months — but says beefing up ad armory including by signing up more ad spouses and acting its own ads will now be” the focus of the company “.
” For instance today on 100 queries we were sometime during the year at 20 ads, really 20% of coverage ,” he told us , noting that some’ iPhone 11′ examinations done via Qwant haven’t resulted in any ads being served to users in recent times.” We got to get to 30% -4 0 %… We need to make it better on the supermarket inquiries, brining new patrons. We required to do all these things.
” Right now we have signed with Havas and Publicis in France for Europe but we need to ad more marriages and start contributing our own ads, our own supermarket ads, our own engineering for ads. That’s the new focus .”
Additionally, there have also been a number of reports in French media that have alleged HR problems within Qwant. Articles — such as this one by Next Inpact — have reported at length on asserts by some employees that Leandri’s administration form established a harmful workplace culture in which personnel were subject to verbal abuse, menaces and bullying.
Qwant feuds these reports but it’s notable that the co-founder is stepping back from an operation role at a time when both he and the business are facing questions over a motion of negative domestic press, and with investors likewise been requested to plough in fresh financing as a key strategy customer( the French authority) is scrutinizing the product and the business.
The health of workplace culture at technology companies and high pressure startups has come in for increasing attention in recent years, as workplace promises have shifted with the generations and digital technologies have encouraged greater openness and supplied outlets for people who feel unfairly plowed to making such a grievances more widely known.
Major scandals in the tech industry in recent years include Uber being publicly alleged of having a sexist and bullying workplace culture by a former operator — and, more recently, wander startup Away whose CEO stepped down in December after a bombshell report in the press exposing a poisonous culture.
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