Bite CEO Cunningham steps down; Dyson to run agency on interim basis

SAN FRANCISCO: Bite CEO Andy Cunningham will step down from her role at the agency to focus on SeriesC, the marketing consultancy she founded last year.

SAN FRANCISCO: Bite CEO Andy Cunningham will step down from her role at the agency to focus on SeriesC, the marketing consultancy she founded last year. Tim Dyson, CEO of Bite holding company Next Fifteen, will run the firm on an interim basis.

Cunningham, who joined the agency last January, will exit at the end of June.  

“In recent weeks, it became clear that what [Cunningham] really wants to do is focus on the thing that she had created,” explained Dyson.

Next Fifteen will remain an investor in SeriesC, which is located in the same office as Bite in San Francisco.

Dyson said he will not look for an immediate replacement for Cunningham.

“My intention is to take our time and figure out what the organization really needs,” he said.

He added that Cunningham's departure from Bite is amicable and will not cause any significant changes for the firm in terms of its staff or vision.

“We learned our lesson, which is that it's challenging for someone to play two roles,” he explained.

Last November, Next Fifteen discovered “a complex fraud” involving a senior member of the finance team in its Bite North America subsidiary. Dyson told PRWeek at the time that the company notified the FBI and San Francisco Police Department and was working with external auditor BDO and risk consulting firm Kroll to carry out a full forensic investigation.

After initially delaying its financial results because of the fraud case, it wrote off nearly $3 million in stolen assets in its 2012 fiscal year. The holding company also reported 1% organic revenue growth for the six-month period ending January 31, but 5% growth in the US.

Following the case, former Bite CEO Clive Armitage announced his departure from the firm to start his own digital marketing agency under Next Fifteen. Dyson said Armitage's exit was not related to the incident. Cunningham, who previously held the role of president of North America, succeeded Armitage as chief executive.

Prior to joining Bite, Cunningham served as CMO for e-commerce company Rearden Commerce. Before that, she was president and CEO of CXO Communications from 2003 to 2010. She created the firm as a spinoff of Citigate Cunningham, where she also served as CEO. Citigate Cunningham, formerly Cunningham Communications, was acquired by Incepta in 2000 for nearly $75 million.

At the end of last November, Bite Communications merged with UK-based digital marketing firm Bourne and rebranded as “Bite.” Through the deal, Bite gained 50 staffers, including CEO Dan Kersh, who joined the firm's global board as head of the internal marketing delivery team, reporting to Cunningham.

In February, Bite promoted SVPs Alisa MacDonnell and Will Willis to GMs of its San Francisco and New York offices, respectively. Willis left Bite a month later to take the role of EVP at Ogilvy Public Relations.

In addition to creating the GM positions at Bite, Cunningham appointed Victoria Graham, previously SVP of operations in North America, to chief of staff.

Steven Brewster, who was promoted to SVP of global marketing in February, left the firm shortly after his appointment. 

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