(L-R) Executive Producer Daniel Montalto, Executives in charge of Culture Trip Michael Fox and Dr. Kris Naudts and Executive Producer Elizabeth Carter attend Culture Trip premiere of the “The Soul of Soho” film at SXSW on March 09, 2019 in Austin, Texas.
British travel and entertainment start-up Culture Trip has confirmed that founder Kris Naudts is stepping down as the company’s chief executive.
Naudts, who will retain his position as chairman, will be replaced by Didier Stoessel, who has worked for Modern Times Group, HSBC Investment Bank, and Merrill Lynch International. The news was first reported by Business Insider on Tuesday and later confirmed to CNBC.
Culture Trip said Naudts will now focus on the company’s wider strategy, external relations, and corporate governance, while the day-to-day management of the business will be controlled by Stoessel.
“I am looking forward to focusing on my role as chairman after having led Culture Trip for nine years in which we have seen significant growth,” Naudts said in a statement. “With Didier as our new CEO, we are very well positioned to be at the forefront of the transformation our industry is experiencing.”
Naudts’ departure reportedly comes after one-third of his leadership team left the business.
Founded in 2011, London-headquartered Culture Trip has raised over $100 million from investors for its travel inspiration platform, which has thousands of curated guides and features on everything from food and fashion to museums and films.
In May, Culture Trip confirmed that it was laying off somewhere between 200 to 300 of its U.K.-based employees.
Culture Trip says that 2.7 million people have downloaded their app and claims to have 15-20 million monthly unique visitors. Videos on its platform have been watched over 2.5 billion times since 2016, it says. The content is created by an army of around 300 freelancers around the world who are managed by an in-house editorial team, which also creates its own content.
It hasn’t been an easy ride for Culture Trip. Several employees have previously said the company had a toxic culture and high staff turnover. At the time, Culture Trip told Wired that mistakes were made during a time of leadership reorganization. The company pledged to make changes to improve the work culture but added it did not recognize claims of a culture of fear.
Last year, Culture Trip’s Kris Naudts admitted he finds it hard to read bad reviews on company review site Glassdoor. “I can’t say I find it easy to read that stuff,” he said. “I find that unpleasant.”