[Updated with comment from GBTC Chairman: See below]
The Greater Baltimore Tech Council this morning sent me a press release announcing that they just appointed a new executive director. His name is Jason Hardebeck and you may remember him as the guy who sold his Baltimore social networking company to Facebook recently for an undisclosed amount.
Hardebeck replaces Sharon Webb, who had been in the position for about a year. I did a lengthy Q&A with Webb recently about the organizational challenges the GBTC faced in a new economy, with pressures from the explosion of social media.
A press release called Webb's tenure a "transitional period."
“Sharon did a phenomenal job bringing the GBTC to this point,” said GBTC Jason Pappas, president of Hannix Inc. in a news release. “But the timing is right to reinvigorate the organization so it becomes an outstanding resource and advocate for our growing technology and industry.”
This is sudden and abrupt news. I had not heard any inklings of a leadership change. Indeed, during the last change, when Steve Kozak left the top position, the board did a leadership search. This time around, it seems that they handpicked Hardebeck for the top spot.
So, in a span of less than two years, the GBTC has gone from Steve Kozak, to Jen Gunner (interim executive director), Sharon Webb and now Hardebeck.
I'm hoping to talk to both Pappas and Hardebeck today to get the full skinny. Stay tuned.
UPDATE: Pappas tells me in a phone interview that Webb did a "very good job" leading the organization through a difficult transition period over the past 12 months. He said she was hired for her analytical skills, to help analyze the organization and re-position it for the future.
But the GBTC had come to a point where it was ready for an executive director who could act as a "Pied Piper" from within the technology community, as someone who had had highly public success as a Baltimore technology innovator.
"Sharon did a really excellent job of taking us over the past 12 months from an organization that was trying to redefine itself, and she was absolutely the right person to guide us through that discussion to figure out how we position ourselves. That was her strength. From a need standpoint, the need shifted [for the GBTC].
Hardebeck fit the bill with his recent success with WhoGlue and Facebook, according to Pappas. Plus, Hardebeck was interested in the position and had been a community advocate for years in Baltimore tech circles. The GBTC board unanimously approved the appointment of Hardebeck, Pappas said.
"We needed someone with some street cred who had 'been there, done that' in the technology commmunity," Pappas said.
For the full press release, hit the jump:
THE GREATER BALTIMORE TECHNOLOGY COUNCIL APPOINTS NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Jason Hardebeck, a Baltimore technology entrepreneur with more than 20 years of business experience, is tapped to lead the organization
Baltimore, MD – December 7, 2011– The Greater Baltimore Technology Council today named Baltimore technology entrepreneur Jason Hardebeck executive director.
“Jason is a proven leader with an impressive track record,” said GBTC Board Chair Jason Pappas. “He is well known in the technology community and will make the GBTC the premiere organization serving the region’s technology and innovation sector.”
Hardebeck most recently was chief executive officer of WhoGlue Inc., a Baltimore-based software company that develops social networking and membership management applications. After founding the firm in 2000, Hardebeck sold WhoGlue to Facebook last month.
“The GBTC has tremendous potential to develop into a leading organization to help entrepreneurs and local companies accelerate the commercialization of their products and ideas,” Hardebeck said. “This is something that I am passionate about. The world has changed and the Technology Council should be a shining beacon of our region’s potential to grow world-class technology companies. The GBTC should reflect that vision by emulating industry best practices and infusing our community with new ideas and energy.”
In addition to heading WhoGlue, Hardebeck has held senior management roles with a number of privately-funded and venture-backed technology firms in software development, business-to-business and business-to-consumer internet solutions, and cleantech and renewable energy.
In 2005, Hardebeck was appointed by the Governor to serve as Maryland’s first Entrepreneur in Residence within the Department of Business and Economic Development, and in 2006, he was named executive director of the Maryland Business Council, a business trade organization.
Hardebeck’s corporate experience includes supply chain and marketing roles at Black & Decker, and plant management at Cargill.
Hardebeck graduated in 1987 from the U.S. Naval Academy with a Bachelor’s of Science in Mechanical Engineering, and was a Nuclear-Qualified Surface Warfare officer from 1987 to 1992. He holds a Master’s in Business from Johns Hopkins University.
Hardebeck replaces Sharon Webb, who joined the GBTC in December 2010 and is credited with stabilizing the organization during a transitional period.
“Sharon did a phenomenal job bringing the GBTC to this point,” Pappas said. “But the timing is right to reinvigorate the organization so it becomes an outstanding resource and advocate for our growing technology and industry.”
About the Greater Baltimore Technology Council
The Greater Baltimore Technology Council is devoted to expanding the region’s technology community, and supports technology companies with innovative programming, resources, links to capital markets and connections.
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