Allurent Names New CEO As Co-Founder Chung Moves Upstairs

Allurent co-founder Joe Chung today stepped down (or rather up to executive chairman) as CEO of the online shopping interface and e-commerce company, Xconomy has learned. Graeme Grant, formerly the chief operating officer, has been named to take his place at the helm of the Cambridge, MA-based company.

Reached by phone, Chung, an Xconomist, confirmed that the staff had been told about the change today. (There has not yet been an official announcement, and Chung was still listed on the website as CEO at the time of this writing.) “I hired Graeme to take over the company someday a couple years ago, and that day is now,” Chung says. He calls the changeover business as usual, however. In his new title of executive chairman, Chung will be concentrating on big deals, partnership relations, and overall strategy—pretty much what he was focusing on already.

“I’m still an employee. I’m still there full time,” he says. “The reality is that our roles are completely unchanged. Graeme’s been running the company for well over a year anyway.”

Grant takes the helm as Allurent, which creates shopping interfaces and “experiences” such as virtual shelves and improved displays for online retailers, is in the midst of a transition. In March, during what Chung says was “pretty much the worst time you can imagine launching a new product in retail,” the company moved to an all-Software as a Service (SaaS) model that provides web retailers with plug-and-play interactive merchandising widgets that they can rent on as as-needed basis.

“We’re really in an environment where retailers need to get more out of every single customer that comes to their site,” he says. To that end, the online shopping world is shifting, from a time when e-retailers just put up products and a shopping cart on the web and figured customers would find them to the point where they have to actively manage each customer relationship. That involves creating better interfaces to attract and retain customers, and making shopping more easy and fun.

Chung says the new product line—Allurent on Demand—has been growing well despite the recession, and he predicted great things for Grant. “I’m very happy for Graeme in the sense that this is his first CEO gig, and he’s going to do a great job,” he says. “He’s a real rising star, and you’ll see a lot of him in our industry for sure.”

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