Gemvara CEO Matt Lauzon Steps Down: Thoughts on Startup Legacy and Future

11/27/12Follow @gthuang

Mr. Lauzon, we hardly knew ye. To some in the entrepreneurial community, you are a startup god. To others, you are a young Boston tech CEO who tweets too much. To me, you are a great story—and ultimately, perhaps, a greater loss.

Matt Lauzon, the founder and chief executive of Boston-based online jeweler Gemvara, is moving on. He has stepped down as CEO and is no longer with the company in a day-to-day role, according to a report by Scott Kirsner in Boston.com. Gemvara is conducting a search for his successor, and meantime Janet Holian, the company’s chief operating officer (and former Vistaprint exec) is serving as interim CEO.

“I am going to stay very involved with the company in my new role,” Lauzon says via e-mail. “I believe we will benefit from having an experienced executive in the CEO [role] and I also believe I can contribute greatly from my new role as Chairman. For what it’s worth, one of my key areas of focus out of the gate will be helping find my replacement.”

It’s big news in the Boston startup scene, but it’s not all that surprising. Gemvara started in 2006 and has amassed some $51 million in venture funding from the likes of Highland Capital Partners, Balderton Capital, and Norwest Venture Partners. That puts it in the category of Boston’s biggest technology bets.

But with more funding (and reportedly more revenue) has come pressure to grow faster and hire a more senior chief executive. Lauzon, the founding CEO, stepped aside once before, in 2009, when the company hired Deborah Besemer to replace him. But she lasted less than a year, and Lauzon reclaimed the CEO role in 2010, as Gemvara started to mature.

Back in February, I sat down with Lauzon, 27, to see what makes him tick—and to get clues about what he might do next.

Lauzon grew up in Biddeford, ME, an old mill town near Old Orchard Beach. His father was a mailman and his mom was a secretary at a doctor’s office. Matt was entrepreneurial as a kid—he had paper routes, organized high school dances, that sort of thing. He even had his own live TV show in high school, a weekly broadcast about local politics.

When it was time to choose a school, Lauzon went to Babson College because he “wanted to do something entrepreneurial,” he says. But he didn’t apply himself in the early years, and his grades suffered. (His GPA was 2.6/4 the first two years.)

The turning point came at the end of his sophomore year, when Lauzon’s father passed away a week before finals. … Next Page »

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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  • Eric Sockol

    Matt

    Good luck on your next venture – lets me know if someone is crazy enough to paint a wall in the middle of the night at your next gig.

    Eric

  • Anonymous

    Matt,
    We all know that you will continue crushing it on your next (ad) venture :) Good luck with everything and if you do move out of freezing Boston, there’s no better place to move than sunny California.

    Alex

  • Helmut

    All the best and good luck for the future.

  • John

    This looks like a 51 million dollar fiasco. I could get a couple of kids with Photoshop and make a better website and sales experience for $500K. Lots of complaints on the better business bureau site and other websites. Ouch!!