With its Nook Media strategy floundering, the architect of that effort, William Lynch, resigned Monday as CEO of parent company Barnes & Noble. With Lynch’s departure, Michael Huseby, who joined B&N in March 2012 as CFO, has been named CEO of Nook Media LLC and president of Barnes & Noble Inc. Huseby, along with Mitchell Klipper, CEO of the B&N Retail Group, will report to B&N executive chairman Len Riggio. Max Roberts, CEO of B&N College, will continue to lead the digital education strategy and report to Huseby, as will the executive management team of Nook Media. No one was named to directly replace Lynch.
“We thank William Lynch for helping transform Barnes & Noble into a leading digital content provider and for leading in the development of our award-winning line of NOOK® products,” said Riggio in a statement. “As the bookselling industry continues to undergo significant transformation, we believe that Michael, Mitchell and Max are the right executives to lead us into the future.” In March, before the extent of B&N's poor fourth quarter became known, Lynch received a two-year extension to run the company. In agreeing to the extension, Lynch received the same base salary but did receive a $1.8 million bonus for his role in completing investments from Microsoft and Pearson that helped form Nook Media.
Other executive changes included the promotions of Allen Lindstrom from v-p and controller to CFO and that of Kanuj Malhotra from v-p of corporate development to CFO of Nook Media LLC.
Lynch’s resignation as CEO, and from the B&N board as well, comes three-and-a-half years after he was appointed to the position and more than four years after he first joined B&N from HSN to head up Barnes & Noble.com. Lynch was credited with overseeing B&N’s aggressive expansion into device manufacturing and with seeing through Microsoft’s investment in what would become Nook Media. Following disastrous sales of Nook devices over the holidays that continued into 2013, B&N announced in late June it was sharply scaling back its manufacturing efforts, particularly in the color tablet area.
Lynch’s departure is sure to increase investor (and publisher) interest on when B&N’s board will make a decision on the offer by Riggio to buy the company’s trade retail stores. In the press release, Riggio said B&N continues to review its strategic plan “and will provide an update when appropriate.” The fact that no one was named CEO of the entire company has increased speculation that Riggio will push harder to acquire the retail stores while looking for a buyer for Nook Media.