RedBalloon CEO, CMO depart as part of organisational restructure

Company founder, Naomi Simson, confirms executive changes and says the business is being realigned to better focus on the changing needs of its customers

Naomi Simson
Naomi Simson

RedBalloon’s CEO, Nick Baker, and first CMO, Rapthi Thanapalasingam, have left the online gift experiences business as part of a wholesale restructure of the organisation.

Founder and high-profile Shark Tank star, Naomi Simson, confirmed the two executive departures and told CMO the company has also done away with a dedicated ‘marketing’ function. She described the changes as part of efforts to future-proof the organisation and better focus on the changing needs of customers.

RedBalloon is holding a special event on 27 July in Sydney where Simson will announce the future direction of the company, as well as its new-look executive structure.

However, she stated a change in CEO in April triggered a new strategy and evolution plan at board level that has seen a realignment of people across the business. Baker joined RedBalloon as CEO in March 2015, after spending the previous seven years as CMO of Tourism Australia.

Simson also confirmed Redii CEO and RedBalloon board member, David Anderson, assumed wider CEO responsibilities across the group in April. Redii was founded as a spin-off business by RedBalloon in 2014 and focuses on helping other SMEs grow.

According to a post on RedBalloon’s website, Anderson extended his partnership with the Big Red Group (BRG), the holding company and management entity for RedBalloon, Redii, Wrapped and other subsidiaries, in April, signalling an ownership restructure. ASIC documents from 9 March 2017 show both Simson and David Christopher Anderson as joint directors of Big Red Group.

“The business I started 15 years ago is not now the business we’re now in, and being responsive to customers and altering one’s business model is very important,” Simson said. “One of the reasons we have sustained our position in the market place is that we have continued to respond to customers.

“We now longer have a marketing function in the business, which is fascinating.  If you look at online and SaaS-based businesses, you can argue that everyone has to be a marketer. Historically, marketing has been about product, price, distribution and promotion, but when people have talked about marketing, they often end up talking about the promotion piece. We are a pure marketing company. We have aggregated an industry, given it a brand, and a go-to marketplace.

“We have restructured our approach to market around demand and grow, on our business partners [product], then also on customer experience. We have a creative team to serve promotional activities.”

Baker told CMO the new owner's subsequent desire to get closer to the business led him to the decision to resign from RedBalloon. He will announce his new role shortly.

"I've continued to work closely with the new leadership to support the transition across the organisation. I wish RedBalloon the best of luck with an exciting new chapter that I understand will be announced very soon," he said.

Thanapalasingam was recruited as RedBalloon’s first CMO just six months ago along with CTO, Brett Raven. At the time, Baker said the two executive-level appointments were key as the company looks to expand outside of traditional gift experiences and into travel and tourism.

But rather than “having a CMO or CEO”, Simon said the approach now is about making sure the RedBalloon team is responsive in each of those core go-to-market capabilities.

“That was a decision made at a board level, in terms of the new energy required in the business,” she continued.  

“Unfortunately it’s not about the people, it’s all about the customer and always will be at RedBalloon. We are customer-centric at our core. Change is afoot – more changes are coming down the line, which will keep people interested, as we continue to grow and hold our place at the table.”

Speaking to CMO, Thanapalasingam said her departure stemmed from a change in ownership structure at RedBalloon.

“With this change, we made the mutual decision to part ways. I'm excited about my next move, which I'm not at liberty to discuss just yet,” she said.

Raven, meanwhile, remains with the organisation as CTO.

“It’s been a wonderful experience for him to get truly focused on the customer experience and sorts of resources we are able to put behind some of the projects he’s working on,” Simson said. “He’s doing a tremendous job and we’re very glad to have Brett as part of the team.

“Change is sometimes a bit surprising, but there is no business that cannot change. We have disruptors coming from everywhere, and commercial pressures, and we’re staying focused on what we’ve always been great at, which is listening and responding to our customers.

“All that will be revealed on 27 July.”   

While Simson remains part of the “DNA and entrepreneurial spirit” of the company, she added she does not have an operational role.  

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+:google.com/+CmoAu    

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

Conversations over a cuppa with CMO: Microsoft's Pip Arthur

​In this latest episode of our conversations over a cuppa with CMO, we catch up with the delightful Pip Arthur, Microsoft Australia's chief marketing officer and communications director, to talk about thinking differently, delivering on B2B connection in the crisis, brand purpose and marketing transformation.

More Videos

The versatility of Live Chat is really what surprises me. I’ve seen it being used not only for customer support, but also as a tool to in...

Drishti Shah

Why Bupa tapped WhatsApp for new customer messaging channel

Read more

Hi This is George, Thanks for sharing this nice information about foodpanda blockchain. During this pandemic situation food delivery indu...

George David

foodpanda launches blockchain-based out-of-home advertising campaign

Read more

Did anyone proofread this document before it was published?

Beau Ushay

CMO Momentum 2020: How to embrace agile marketing

Read more

An honest and hardworking conveyancer doesn't need a marketing strategy. His past clients will spread the word for him. These days the ho...

Bagen Andrea

What this millennial marketer is doing to shake up conveyancing

Read more

Love the post. It is so insightful for companies getting stuck in their habits and missing out on the role innovation can have on revenue...

Alessia Del Genio

How Lego built its culture of innovation, brick by brick

Read more

Blog Posts

Innovate or die

It’s hard to know if famed management and marketing guru, Peter Drucker, coined this phrase for dramatic effect. My belief is he was emphasising the notion that few products and markets are static and few organisations can survive without innovation.

Michael Valos

Senior Lecturer, Department of Marketing, Deakin University

Commissioning personas that get used

How to avoid the bottom drawer, and how to get value from the work you’ve paid for

Melanie Wiese

Chief strategy officer, Wunderman Thompson

Why It’s Going To Be A Bumper Holiday Season Despite the Pandemic

Behavioural science expert Dan Monheit, co-founder and strategy director of creative agency, Hardhat, writes that marketing chiefs should hold their nerve, as they have reason to be optimistic

Dan Monheit

Co-founder, Hardhat

Sign in