Hootsuite names new CEO to replace founder amid 'reckoning' for social media

VANCOUVER — Hootsuite has named a new CEO to replace founder Ryan Holmes after his 12 years at the helm of the Vancouver-based tech company.

Tom Keiser, former chief operating officer of Zendesk, headquartered in San Francisco, will take over as of July 6.

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Keiser helped drive the company's annual revenue from $200 million to nearly $1 billion during his four years at the firm that went from 1,000 to 4,000 employees, Hootsuite said in a release.

Holmes, 45, said the startup he launched, which allows users to manage multiple social media accounts and provides analytics on them, has about 1,000 employees and 15 offices globally, serving about 200,000 paying customers.

He's leaving the top job with thoughts of the "reckoning" underway for social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter, said Holmes, who will stay on as chairman at Hootsuite.

The power the tech giants exert requires government oversight, he said, similar to what happened with newspapers, radio and television about 15 years after they reached critical mass.

"The interesting thing is that's right where we're at with Facebook and Twitter and all the social networks," Holmes said, adding the companies that have transformed workplaces, politics and society need to be held accountable for their influence.

"Things like Cambridge Analytica, we don't want that," he said, referring to the political data firm that gained access to the private information of millions of Facebook users after it was hired by U.S. President Donald Trump's election campaign in 2016.

Facebook Inc. chief executive Mark Zuckerberg was called to testify before the U.S. Senate two years ago over the Cambridge Analytica scandal, raising questions about whether the tech powerhouse should be regulated.

Social media platforms need to be forthright in how they're dealing with ad tracking and the rights consumers are giving away for the benefits they're getting, Holmes said.

As for his future plans, Holmes said he'll spend more time with 15-month-old daughter Bianca and keep himself busy with initiatives including his League of Innovators charity aimed at helping young entrepreneurs accelerate their business projects in Canada.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 29, 2020.

© Virden Empire-Advance

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