Posted on March 25, 2019 by staff

CEO of listed digital music firm stands down


The CEO of listed digital music firm 7digital is to stand down.

Simon Cole has led the London firm since its creation from the reverse merger with UBC Media, which he he set up with Tim Blackmore almost 30 years ago, in 2014.

Set to be replaced by John Aalbers, Cole will also leave his role as a director next month to concentrate on other business interests.

A global leader in B2B end-to-end digital music solutions, 7digital provides access to music for clients including the increasingly popular social network TikTok.

7digital turned over an estimated £19 million in 2018 but its share price more than halved in early January after the Juke Entertainment music service, a subsidiary of European retailer MediaMarktSaturn, indicated that it wished to change the circumstances of a partnership which was projected to bring in £4m revenue in 2019.

In March, 7digital accepted a €4m settlement from Juke to end their partnership and the share price has recovered around a third of that value.

“This transition was planned last year when we felt that 2018 would mark the successful growth into profitability after four years,” said Cole.

“In the end, the events surrounding MediaMarktSaturn’s sudden strategic changes in December had a profound effect on the company and I felt I could not leave until that position was resolved and satisfactory settlement had been achieved.

“Now that has been done, I leave 7digital in good shape and in good hands.

“I have enjoyed this adventure and, in particular, leading an extraordinarily talented and dedicated group of people.”

Aalbers, who specialises in building early- and mid-stage technology companies, will succeed Cole at the helm of the AIM-listed business which has customers in over 40 countries and offices in the UK, continental Europe and the US.

His most recent role was as CEO of Arts Alliance Media, which develops operational support software for the cinema industry, before managing the successful sale to Luxin Rio of China.

Prior to that, he worked in the telecommunications sector as CEO of Volubill and in numerous senior positions with CGI and Intec Telecom Systems (now CSG International).

Don Cruickshank, chair of 7digital, commented: “The board wishes to give profound thanks to Simon for his insights and vision in seeing that many companies and brands would wish to support and nurture their business models with music delivered by streaming technologies, and that they would need access to a neutral, efficient and cost-effective platform.

“That is what 7digital now provides and, after some turbulent years, it is very well positioned to thrive in the streaming-based music market of the future. We wish him well in his future endeavours.

“We now welcome John Aalbers to the role of CEO. His career is distinguished with success in a number of not-dissimilar challenges to those facing 7digital, all based on sector focussed software and platform services.

“The board looks forward to working with John to build the company both in scale and scope of business.”