Mitch Golub announced his retirement as president of Cars.com earlier today in a letter that was sent to employees a few minutes ago.
The Gannett Co.’s acquisition of Cars.com was completed a couple of weeks ago at which time Dan Jauernig was named as CEO of Cars.com. Jauernig had been CEO of Classified Ventures, the parent company of Cars.com and has been with the company for 14 years. But with the sale of Apartments.com earlier this year and the sale of Cars.com, Classified Ventures is no longer a company. (TBR predicted many of these changes more than a year ago — Big Changes in Cars.com’s Future?)
The Gannett Co. had been one of five media companies with a stake in Classified Ventures/Cars.com. Buying out the partners, Gannett is spinning off its newspaper business into a separate company. Cars.com will stay with Gannett and be part of what will become Gannett Digital, which includes all of the media giant’s online and broadcasting properties.
Replacing Golub is sales chief Alex Vetter, who has been named executive vice president and COO. Also retiring this year is Bill Swislow, CIO and Vice President of Product.
Golub, Swislow and Vetter have been with Cars.com since its inception in 1997 and have overseen its growth to become company valued in the $2.5 – $2.8 billion range with revenues of approximately $550 million in 2013.
Golub will stay on through March 1 to assist the company through the leadership transition. Last week during a Q&A session at the Driving Sales Executive Summit in Las Vegas, Golub outlined some of Cars.com’s future direction saying the company will continue its play in the service space building on its investment with Repair Pal. The company also will become more of a player on the acquisition front in coming months, but likely will not adopt the same strategy used by Cox Automotive, CDK Global or DealerTrack in which those firms are trying to build out an entire suite of products for dealers.
Cars.com will focus on what it says it does best, driving consumers to dealerships.
Golub’s retirement is the end of an era of sorts for the automotive retail space. In some ways, he’s the last of the Big 3 — Chip Perry, John Holt and himself — guys who were at the forefront of bringing the Internet to the automotive retail space and who were able to stay with their companies and grow them into large powerhouses. Earlier this year, Cobalt’s founder John Holt retired following the IPO of Cobalt’s parent company ADP Dealer Services (Now CDK Global). Meanwhile, Chip Perry, the founder of AutoTrader left his company in March 2013 and speculation is that he may return to the industry in some form next year.