John Koten, the nautical-enthusiast CEO of Fast Company and Inc. publisher Mansueto Ventures, moved out of his office last week ... into a cubicle. The move has magazine workers "freaking out," a tipster tells us.
Now the word is Koten may be out, too — not just of his office, but his job, too. When asked, Koten said he "planned on appearing for jury duty tomorrow." To avoid a leak, we hear managers are calling employees with the news that Mansueto Ventures CFO Mark Rosenberg is taking over temporarily. But we suspect Koten, a fan of both the B-52s and Aristotle's Rhetoric, is happiest while at sea.
After a late-night email sent by Koten urging his employees to interview him to "show some respect" got leaked earlier this month, Koten "had his assistants move all of his stuff into a cubicle outside his office," the tipster told us. Joe Mansueto, the founder of mutual-fund research firm Morningstar and owner of Fast Company and Inc., works from a cubicle. "After several years of working out of an office now seems a really weird time to become "a man of the people,'" our tipster notes.
Koten has an erratic reputation. One media veteran familiar with his career calls him "one of the unheralded geniuses of the magazine business" but also the "laziest man in the world." Legend has it that the devoted sailor once turned down a promotion at the Wall Street Journal that would have had him move from Chicago to New York because of the cost of berthing his boat. (He later made the move, and recently invited Mansueto Ventures employees to bring their children on board his boat for Take Your Children to Work Day.)
Media Business hailed him as one of the top innovators in the magazine business for FastCompany.com and FastCompany.tv. But the architect of those websites, Ed Sussman, was fired in October. FastCompany.tv star Robert Scoble inexplicably lasted through March, despite spending more of his time Twittering than videoblogging. Perhaps Fast Company can bring him back to do a remake of "I'm On a Boat"?