The move will see chief executive Chris van der Kuyl step back from the Dundee-based business after six years at the helm. Chris has always been very visible as CEO of several business units at the company, including all of the genealogy-related web services. Many genealogists did not know that he also was head of the online publishing business and also was the founder of a very successful online games company. In addition, he was head of brightsolid's very active web hosting services with many customers from all over the globe.
van der Kuyl will remain with the company, primarily as Strategic Adviser to the DC Thomson Board. I had a chance to talk with Chris van der Kuyl earlier about the changes. He said: "This new role offers a great opportunity to work both in an advisory capacity to the DC Thomson board whilst exploring other endeavours outside of the group." He chairs 4J Studios which last year co-developed the Minecraft game for Xbox. (See http://www.4jstudios.com/.)
Chris never mentioned his earlier experiences to me but other sources indicate that Van der Kuyl grew his first business, VIS entertainment plc, out of a bedroom in Dundee to become a global player in the creation of leading-edge entertainment property for computer, television and video games platforms worldwide. He has since achieved much success in the computer industry and now wears many hats, including that of one of the youngest Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Chris sits as a member of the Scottish Scientific Advisory committee who advise the Scottish government on all areas of science and technology. You can read more about Chris van der Kuyl's career at http://www.4jstudios.com/, click on ABOUT US and then on Chris van der Kuyl.
Annelies van den Belt, the former head of ITV.com, has been hired to head Brightsolid Online Publishing (BSOP) and will head findmypast.co.uk and genesreunited.co.uk, two of the largest genealogy businesses in Europe, and will also manage the findmypast brand in the US market. The company has partnerships with a raft of institutions that are digitising and making available online parts of their historical archives, including the Imperial War Museum and The British Library.
Richard Higgs, formerly director of the cloud computing business, has been promoted to chief executive of Brightsolid Online Technology (BSOT). BSOT provides software, infrastructure and other IT services over the internet from its UK-based servers.
Here is the announcement from brightsolid:
brightsolid realigns and appoints new CEO for online publishing
Dundee-based media company DC Thomson has appointed Annelies van den Belt as Chief Executive of its fast-growing brightsolid online publishing business (BSOP).
Richard Higgs steps up to Chief Executive of brightsolid online technology (BSOT).
The appointments come as DC Thomson plans to split the brightsolid group in to two separate entities as it looks to build its position in the burgeoning genealogy and cloud computing sectors. This means that brightsolid online publishing (BSOP) and brightsolid online technology (BSOT) will now function as autonomous businesses, reporting directly to the DC Thomson Board.
Chris van der Kuyl, who currently holds the position of Group CEO of brightsolid, will take on a new role as Strategic Adviser to the DC Thomson Board.
BSOP owns findmypast.co.uk and genesreunited.co.uk – two of the largest genealogy businesses in Europe – and recently launched in the lucrative US market. The company is a preferred private sector partner to a host of institutions that are digitising and making available online parts of their historical archives, including the Imperial War Museum and The British Library.
BSOP and BSOT Chairman Richard Hall said: “Splitting BSOP and BSOT in to separate divisions is the next natural next phase of DC Thomson’s growth strategy for the businesses and the move will allow management teams to fulfill the potential of each division.
“We are delighted to have Annelies join brightsolid. She brings with her a wealth of knowledge in commercial online enterprise from a strong media background. We are also delighted Richard is stepping up to become CEO. Richard has been instrumental in building online technology into a major independent provider of hosted services and related IT consultancy.
“Chris van der Kuyl is an innovator who has made an immense contribution to brightsolid over the last six years. This change of role fits with Chris’ expanding business interests outside of brightsolid and DC Thomson looks forward to working with Chris in his new capacity.”
Chris van der Kuyl said: “This new role offers a great opportunity to work both in an advisory capacity to the DC Thomson Board whilst exploring other endeavours outside of the Group.”
Ms van den Belt said: “The opportunity at brightsolid to build a truly global digital family history business is an exciting one. brightsolid has the potential through its current assets and footprint in the English speaking markets to become a leading global player. Furthermore, being part of the DC Thomson Group is an exciting professional proposition and I look forward to working with the Board and to sharing my digital knowledge and experience going forward in developing and creating further digital products.”
Ms van den Belt joins BSOP from SUP Media, the leading digital publisher in Russia and the CIS which recently merged with Rambler, where she held the position of Group Chief Executive. She has exemplary experience managing online ventures and has previously worked for ITV, Telegraph Media Group and News International.
While at ITV, Ms van den Belt oversaw the launch of ITV.com and held the title of Managing Director of ITV Broadband. Prior to this she was at News International as Director of Digital in charge of The Times online site before moving to the Telegraph Media Group as Director of New Media. She will formally step into her new role at BSOP next Monday.
Richard Higgs joined BSOT in 2010 as Managing Director and has been instrumental in making online technology a dynamic IT business specialising in the architecture and secure cloud delivery of critical infrastructures from its UK-based Tier 3+ data centres.
Previously Richard was Chief Executive of Active Risk Group PLC, a developer of Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) applications which floated in 2005 and served the US and UK markets.