May 11, 2013

For Portland CEO, it's time to move on, 'reboot'

The co-founder of CashStar, a digital gift card firm, awaits his next big idea.

By J. Craig Anderson
Staff Writer

Former CashStar CEO David Douglas Stone said he resigned from the company after he and CashStar's investors came to an agreement that it was time for him to move on.

click image to enlarge

David Douglas Stone is considering new ventures while “decompressing” at his home in Falmouth Foreside.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

The local entrepreneur said he is already kicking around ideas for his next high-tech venture, which he hopes to base in Portland.

Stone, who co-founded CashStar, a digital gift card firm, in Portland in 2008, said his passion and expertise are in building small companies from the ground up.

Now that CashStar has grown to 85 employees and landed several national retail clients, Stone said his services were no longer needed.

"It's normal, when investors come in, for the founders of a startup to get pushed out," Stone said Friday from his Falmouth home.

CashStar, which has raised more than $26 million in venture capital, closed on a $5 million funding round last July with a group of investors led by the Intel Corp.-owned venture capital firm Intel Capital.

Previous investors in CashStar, including Passport Ventures, FTV Capital and CashStar co-founder and Chairman Steven Boal, also participated in the round.

Boal will serve as interim CEO until the company finds a permanent replacement for Stone, CashStar spokesman Gene Cornfield said.

"The board (of directors) will look for the right fit to step into David's shoes," said Cornfield, the company's vice president of marketing.

Stone said he will no longer be involved in CashStar's day-to-day affairs. Still, as one of its largest shareholders, he still has a great deal invested in the company's future success, he said.

Stone said he plans to take time to "decompress, reboot and refresh" before delving into another startup venture. He plans to do some consulting, blogging and writing, he said.

As for Stone's next venture, he said he has to be careful not to stray too close to CashStar's niche because of a noncompete agreement he has signed.

Stone said he is mulling over a few promising concepts and knows plenty of potential investors who are waiting to see what he comes up with next.

"I've got two or three new ideas in the air, and a large following of people," he said.

CashStar operates digital gift card programs for major retailers. It has several national retailers as clients, including Starbucks, The Home Depot, Gap and Williams-Sonoma.

CashStar's chain-store clients sell electronic gift cards online through websites run by the company. Consumers can custom-design electronic cards with videos, photographs and personalized messages.

CashStar is generally regarded as a successful tech start-up and a bright spot in Portland's economy. The company is located in downtown Portland.

Stone, a former American Express executive who helped create the Amex Gift Cheque program, co-founded CashStar with Boal, who also is the CEO of Mountain View, Calif.-based digital coupon company

Boal will head both companies for the time being and will fly back and forth frequently between Maine and California, Cornfield said.

J. Craig Anderson can be contacted at 791-6390 or at:

Twitter: @jcraiganderson


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