Insiders at Timbuk2 and on the company board have confirmed what SNEWS® has suspected sine July -- Mark Dwight is no longer the CEO and president of Timbuk2 and is no longer an investor with the company.
When contacted, Dwight stated that he left the company officially on May 19.
"I loved my job and Timbuk2, and did a lot of great things during my tenure there," Dwight told us. He did not confirm if he resigned or was fired.
Company officials told us, however, that Dwight resigned and was in no way asked to leave by either the board or the private equity investment partners. We were told by a board member, who requested anonymity, that Dwight's departure was a mutually amicable one, with Dwight requesting to be bought out as an investor and the private equity partners agreeing.
"Mark did a superb job growing Timbuk2 to the point it is currently. The company is having its best year ever, and is growing in the right kind of channels with the right kind of retail partners," said that Timbuk2 board member. "Our interests as a board, and those of the investors, are to take a patient approach to growth, and leverage the brand equity appropriately. We will not take the brand in places where it is not supposed to go."
The company is currently conducting a search for a replacement CEO.
"We sold one million bags while I was at Timbuk2," Dwight told us. "That's something I am very proud of. Though I have no immediate plans and have thoroughly enjoyed my time off this summer, I am looking forward to having an opportunity to work with a small, authentic, iconic brand again at some point as I love building brands with an authentic heritage."
SNEWS® View: It is curious to us that the company has not released an official and public statement regarding the resignation (self-motivated or encouraged) of Mark Dwight from a company he purported to love and still loves so very much. Dwight has been the very public face of Timbuk2 for three and a half years now, since acquiring the company in September 2002 and then building it to a point where he was able to sell it to private equity investors and generate a 4x return for his first round of investors. You don't just wash away a public face and hope no one will notice.
Perhaps though, with new private equity investors obviously wanting a good return on a $22.5 million investment, the job might have been more than Dwight wanted to chew on, or could chew with pleasure? Could the reason be as simple as a talented entrepreneur discovering the demands of running a business under the control of private equity investors is more than the ego or heart can handle. New ownership means new ways of doing things, and perhaps Dwight simply found he was not well suited to working in those conditions, under those kinds of watchful eyes.
We read and heard a $100 million sales figure bandied about since the acquisition as the goal for Timbuk2 in five years. If true, that’s quite a heady sales growth goal, even for an iconic brand like Timbuk2. Insiders and the board member we spoke with insist that the current board and the private equity investors are not looking to grow the company in a direction that is not appropriate to the brand or to its retail partners, and that is good to hear. The team at Timbuk2 is very passionate and very talented. Our conversations with them have led us to believe that if given the right support, they will be able to grow the brand reasonably and solidly with patience and an eye toward maintaining integrity of the brand.
What will be most telling, of course, is the choice of a new CEO. Who that person is, and what his or her background is, will provide all with yet another window to look through as we seek to determine where the brand is heading.