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Gemvara's founder steps away from CEO role — again

Posted by Scott Kirsner  November 27, 2012 07:33 AM

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Gemvara founder Matt Lauzon relinquished the role of CEO last week, for the second time since he started the online jewelry merchant as a Babson College undergrad in 2006. Taking over as interim CEO while the company conducts a search is Janet Holian, a former VistaPrint executive who has been serving as Gemvara's chief operating officer since last year. Lauzon tells me he will remain chairman, but is no longer at the company in a day-to-day operational role: "I am in and out of the office and will continue to be for a couple months," he explains.

As it happens, Lauzon got engaged over the holiday weekend — to a Gemvara employee, Callie Smith — so vacating the CEO's office probably makes that relationship a bit less complicated.

"I've always said I would step aside if we got to a point where we would benefit from someone else in the role, and we've hit that point," Lauzon says, mentioning growing revenues at the company, which offers infinitely customizable baubles. "We've benefitted from other management hires, and I believe we will benefit from this one."

Gemvara tried once before to replace Lauzon with an outside CEO: Deb Besemer, a software industry executive who joined in May 2009 and lasted less than a year. In 2010, Lauzon took the helm again, and Besemer told me, "You never have the same kind of passion that the founder has."

We'll see how things play out this time around... When I asked Lauzon if they board is looking for an exec with e-commerce or jewelry industry experience, he said, "We're focused on building a great, enduring retail brand. Experience with that is most important to me."

Gemvara has raised about $50 million in capital; its most recent round, $25 million, was announced in June of this year.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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