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Verklin Out At Canoe, Timko Named Interim CEO

David Verklin, the Madison Avenue exec who helmed cable's Canoe Ventures advertising startup for its first three years, is leaving the captain's chair and will be replaced on an interim basis by chief operating officer Kathy Timko, the company announced late Monday.

Verklin, previously CEO of Aegis Media Americas, steered Canoe on an aggressive product launch course. But on his departure, the advanced-advertising venture does not have significant progress to show so far, having launched a single interactive TV advertising product.

The company was officially formed in 2008 by the U.S.'s six biggest cable operators -- Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Charter Communications, Cablevision Systems and Bright House Networks -- as a way to create a national footprint for advanced forms of TV advertising, including interactive, addressable and dynamic VOD ads.

Rob Marcus, a Canoe board member and president and chief operating officer of Time Warner Cable, thanked Verklin for his service during Canoe's startup phase.

"David's passion for media and advertising is contagious," Marcus said in a statement. "He and the team at Canoe have helped the industry to reach new levels of collaboration that support the growth of our business, the enhancement of services to our customers, and the advancement of new marketing solutions for television advertisers. The board remains committed to the significant business opportunities we are pursuing through Canoe. I speak for the entire board when I wish David well for the next phase of his distinguished career."

Commenting on Timko, Comcast Cable president Neil Smit said, "Kathy's experience managing and scaling high-tech organizations, including her track record driving marketplace adoption and creating new business revenue, positions her well for leading Canoe through the next phase of its development."

Verklin did not respond to a request for comment. He had been hired by the cable joint venture with a three-year contract in August 2008, according to industry sources.

Canoe spokesman David Grabert said Verklin and Timko are not granting interviews.

Verklin officially started as CEO of Canoe Ventures LLC, based in New York, on Aug. 4, 2008. Initially, the six MSOs funded the company with about $150 million, with ownership stakes based on the proportion of subscribers each operator contributes.

"Call me a dreamer or say I have a screw loose, but I believe this is an opportunity to change the way America uses and watches television," Verklin said in an interview with Multichannel News after he was hired in 2008.

Under Verklin, Canoe's first product launch was Community Addressable Messaging, an attempt to overlay targeted national spots onto existing cable zones. But the company scrapped "CAM 1.0" in mid-2009, with Verklin citing business process challenges and technical issues in upgrading ad-splicing equipment across MSOs.

Last year, Canoe launched a request for information interactive TV ad product, which lets an advertiser present an overlay on a 30-second ad prompting viewers to request more info, and expected have enabled the RFI capability across seven cable networks this spring. While Canoe claims it has executed national RFI campaigns, it has declined to say how many or identify the advertisers.

Timko joined Canoe as COO in June 2009. She most recently was the COO of carrier services at telecommunications provider IDT, after joining the company in 1998 as vice president of engineering and operations. Before joining IDT, Timko worked for Call Sciences, a startup developing personal number services, as well as Bellcore and Bolt, Beranak and Newman (BBN).

"The business skill Kathy has demonstrated at Canoe over the last two years has been pivotal in helping the industry's national interactive television platform to surpass 20 million households and has led the company to its go-to-market phase," Smit said. "As Canoe expands its portfolio of ITV services and launches national dynamic ad insertion for video-on-demand, Kathy's business acumen will be key to deeper penetration of Canoe's solutions in the market."

In May 2010, Canoe moved its New York headquarters into a 40,000-square-foot space on the 39th floor of 1251 Avenue of the Americas, near Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan, to accommodate its expected employee count of 135 by the end of the year. The lease runs through Sept. 30, 2012, as Canoe had expected to possibly need even more space by then.

Currently, Canoe has about 150 employees in New York and at its engineering and lab facilities in the Denver area.