Greg Tseng is stepping down from the CEO role of if(we) after 11 years running its dating social network Tagged and game studio hi5. He’ll remain a board member. When asked why the change was happening, Tseng tells me “I initiated it and it’s happening the way I want.” The company’s new CEO will be its Chief Operating Officer Dash Gopinath, who was formerly the Chief Product Officer of Tagged competitor Badoo.
It seems like a responsible move for the founder to hand the reins to someone else who might be a better match for managing a decade-old company. Tseng had done a remarkable job of keeping Tagged earning enough money to survive for years past its peak.
December 11th will be Tseng’s last day as an employee. In a blog post, Tseng explained his emotions about the change saying “if(we) is and will always be my baby so making this transition is not easy for me, but I am comforted knowing that I’m leaving the company in good shape and in good hands.” Over the years, Tseng has become a smiling staple of the Silicon Valley social scene, and is known for his love of a good DJ set.
Tseng tells me the products “still have a great team of over 100 people and 2015 will be our 8th consecutive profitable year.” The company raised $28.3 million, but also at least $3 million in debt, not equity. Now, Tseng happily reveals that if(we) “just paid off all our venture debt loans so we’re also debt-free and in great financial shape.”From the start in 2004 to 2011, Tagged reached 100 million registered users and 12 million monthly active users. Tagged began a social network where teens could meet new people, opposed to connecting with existing friends like on Facebook, which at the time was only for college students. Tagged eventually opened to all ages, and was frequently used for dating. It acquired social game company hi5 in 2011, bringing the company to 20 million active users and 330 million registered.
Tagged was said to project revenues of $45 million that year and seek a $1 billion valuation IPO. But the shift to mobile was rough for the company and IPO plans were scrapped. Over the past few years the company refocused on trying to start something new on mobile, and changed its name to if(we). One of the apps the company launched, Sidewalk, tried to help you find fun local things to do suggested by other users, but hasn’t picked up.
Now the company will look for a second wind with Gopinath at the helm. Tseng said the new CEO has helped with “setting company direction and strategy, greatly improving execution and output, transitioning Tagged and hi5 to mobile” and preparing additional social apps for launch. Time will tell if he can tag in and rejuvenate the long-surviving social network.