Uri Raz out as CEO of Tango, replaced by CTO Eric Setton

Steven Loeb · January 6, 2016 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/427f

Tango had recently been forced to lay off a large amount of staff following a failure in e-commerce

2015 was a year of big change at the head of some of the biggest tech companies in the world. Sometimes that was for tragic reasons, like the deaths of the head of both Nintendo and SurveyMonkey, other times it was a CEO returning after being forced out, like Jack Dorsey and Mark Pincus.

More often than not, though, it was simply a long time CEO being forced out of the company for whatever reason.

2016 is only a few days old, and already we have seen a shakeup at the top of a major company, as Uri Raz, the co-founder and CEO of mobile messaging app Tango, has been replaced by his fellow co-founder Eric Setton, it was announced on Wednesday. 

No specific reason for this move was offered, but it is likely not a coincidence that this move comes less than two months after Tango was forced to lay off 9% of its staff in late November of last year. That was a total of 30 employees.

The reason for those cuts had to do with Tango's failure to make good on its efforts in e-commerce.  The company had launched a social shopping service early in 2014, which allowed its members to buy products from retailers directly through the app. It offered curated lists of products based on user preferences, while also allowing them to create their own collections to share with family and friends.

It had partnered with Walmart and AliExpress, a global consumer retail marketplace owned by Alibaba Group, for the effort, but it never panned out.

The initiative didn’t really pan out,” Setton told TechCrunch at the time. “We didn’t see the conversations we wanted. [There was a] good amount of traffic but the volume didn’t materialize. [We recently] updated the app to take the e-commerce flow out, but unfortunately couldn’t keep the team working on that initiative.”

The Mountain View, California-based company allows users to text, call, video chat and play games with each other for free. It also allows users to buy animations and avatars to "enrich their communications and messages."

There is also the issue of competition in the space, with big players like WeChat, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp to contend with. While WhatsApp is closing in on one billion users, and WeChat has 600 million, Tango only had 350 million users, which it revealed in the announcement today. It only added 50 million users since May.

Raz's tenture as CEO may have come to an end for another reason, though: as outlined by TechCrunch, there were reports of problems between him and the staff, and the decision for Setton to take over apparently came from the board of directors, who wanted Raz out.

Whatever the reason that Raz is no longer CEO, both he and Setton are putting on a happy face.

I have worked alongside my co-founder Eric for 8 years, and throughout this time I've seen him grow and become a true leader,” Raz said in a statement. “I’ve served as a founder and CEO for over 28 years - half of my life – and I believe it is time for me to pass the torch to the younger generation - a generation with bright leaders and a bright future.”

When we started Tango, my wife was pregnant with our first child and I had the dream that we’d be able to create a product to bridge the distance between our future baby and our family back in France,” Setton said in a statement.

This product exists today - it’s Tango. Thanks to Tango, millions of families around the world can feel closely connected, wherever they are. They can call each other for free, they can see each other, they can share pictures with each other on their phones and on their tablets. And there is a lot more to come in 2016 and beyond.”

It's not as though Raz is leaving Tango, though. He has now become executive chairman of the company, effective immediately, and will continue to provide counsel to the Tango management team, while playing a key role on strategic accounts and corporate development.

Founded in September 2009, the Mountain View, California-based company allows users to text, call, video chat and play games with each other for free. It also allows users to buy animations and avatars to "enrich their communications and messages."

The company rolled out social networking features on in July of 2013, and integrated with Spotify in October 2013. Since then, Tango says that hundreds of millions of songs have been shared between its members. The company now has more than 300 million users, and is available in 15 languages in more than 224 countries.

Tango has raised a total of $367 million in venture capital financing to date, most recently a $280 million round, the majority of which came from Alibaba, and which valued the company at over $1 billion. 

Other investors in the company include Access Industries, DFJ, Qualcomm Ventures, Toms Capital and Translink Capital, as well as Bill Tai, Shimon Weintraub, Jerry Yang, and Alex Zubillaga.

VatorNews reached out to Setton for further comment on the reasons behind these move, but he had no further comment.

(Image source: sfgate.com)

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Founded in September 2009, Tango is a free mobile video calling service that connects family and friends wherever they are. Tango offers high-quality video calling for iOS and Android devices and works over 3G, 4G, and Wi-Fi. More than 10 million people in 190 countries are using Tango to communicate every day, stay connected, and share special moments as they happen. Download the Tango application for free in the App Store and Android Market. Tango is based in Palo Alto, California.