Expedia announced changes to the top of its IT organization on Tuesday, August 7. The online travel company promoted Pierre Samec, its SVP of worldwide product development, to CTO. In his new role, Samec will lead Expedia’s global technology initiatives. He will share responsibility for those initiatives with CIO Bill Holtz. Both Samec and Holtz now report to Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.
Samec’s promotion recognizes the role he’s played “in recent strategic and infrastructure development efforts,” according to the press release announcing his promotion. Specifically, he was instrumental in the developing and deploying a new technology platform for the company.
Expedia also announced on Tuesday that EVP of Technology Paul Onnen is leaving the Bellevue, Wash.-based travel company “to pursue other opportunities” on September 15, 2007. A spokesperson for Expedia said that Samec is effectively moving into Onnen’s role even though he doesn’t have the same title Onnen had. Samec reported to Onnen in his previous positions as SVP of worldwide product development, as did Holtz. Onnen previously reported to the CEO.
“Paul Onnen has taken us a giant step forward in developing and executing our long term technology roadmap,” said Khosrowshahi in a statement. “Pierre Samec and Bill Holtz are the right team to take us to the next level.”
Why Expedia needs a “team” of two executives to run IT is beyond me. Most CEOs don’t want even one technology executive reporting to them, let alone a CIO and a CTO. The spokesperson I talked to at Expedia e-mailed me a statement saying that the realignment of the IT management team “is designed to support Expedia’s growth, international expansion and continued product innovation. …Samec and Holtz are now positioned to take us to the next level as it pertains to both product development and IT infrastructure & operations. Each has a distinct yet intersecting role within the scope of our global IT operations, as Holtz and Onnen previously did.” Earlier, the spokesperson noted that Samec “will lead Expedia’s global technology initiatives across product development and technology infrastructure. Holtz’s background and expertise lies in global IT operations.” As if that explains anything about how their scope of responsibility breaks down.
I’m not the only one who doesn’t understand the IT org changes at Expedia. Martha Heller, an executive recruiter with ZRG, says
having a CIO and CTO at the same level in a company is unusual.
“Sometimes I see a CTO doing all the technology in a company where there’s no CIO. Sometimes I see a CTO reporting to the CIO. I rarely see them as peers,” she says. “It’s like saying the CFO and senior vice president of finance are going to share responsibility for finance. That would be very odd.”
What do you think?