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Andrew Savikas Departs Safari Books Online Amidst "Massive" Layoffs

DSC02256There was a quiet uproar at O’Reilly Media’s subscription ebook service this week  as a result of "massive layoffs".

A confidential source has tipped me to the news (and LinkedIn confirms) that Andrew Savikas, formerly of O’Reilly Books, has left his position as CEO of Safari Books Online.

Savikas had been the CEO since December 2010, and his departure was described by O’Reilly spokesperson Sarah Winge as part of a period of restructuring, "O’Reilly acquired full ownership of Safari in 2014, and as of January 2016, we are integrating the two businesses. They are quite complementary, and we see lots of opportunity ahead," she told me by email. "Today’s restructuring announcements are about aligning O’Reilly’s resources with its strategy, now that O’Reilly and Safari are one company. That company is in great shape, and we’re excited about the future."

Winge would not say how many people were laid off this week, however.

Update: Savikas confirmed his departure on his blog on Medium. "As some of you already know, I’ve left my role after 5 years as CEO at Safari Books Online, which is now part of O’Reilly Media. As O’Reilly works to fully integrate Safari with the rest of their operations, Tim O’Reilly and I agreed this was the right time for me to step away," he writes. "Anyone paying attention to technology, publishing, or education (and especially the places they intersect) knows that a lot can change in 5 years.That is true for companies like O’Reilly and Safari, and it’s also true for people."

Launched in 2000, Safari Books Online was the original subscription ebook service. Originally starting with just the technical titles published by O’Reilly, it now offers a catalog of 30,000 videos, books, and training courses for a monthly subscription cost of $40 (individual) and up.

This is the service which proved that the ebook subscription concept could work with the right model and in the right market niche.

The only wonder is that it took trade book publishers thirteen years to be willing to try to replicate the idea with consumer titles. Both Scribd and Oyster failed to follow in Safari’s footsteps, of course, but that stemmed less from any flaw in the basic idea than from a doomed plan to pay retail rates while charging for subscription access.

image by magerleagues

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