What Happened At Imperium?

Update: Imperium has pulled its IPO filing. Also, I’ve now spoken w/ Martin Tobias, and will update tomorrow.

That headline is not rhetorical – I really want to know.

Founding CEO Martin Tobias leaves seven months after an IPO filing? No fulltime replacement is named? The announcement is made the Friday before Christmas, and includes less than 50 relevant words? None of those words included the standard: “We would like to thank Martin Tobias for his valuable contributions…?”

A lot of folks – me included – had expected that Tobias would eventually turn over the leadership reins, but this is anything but an ordered transition. Instead, it reeks of a major blowup – which could be either strategic or personal. Probably both.

Tobias has not yet publicly commented, except to say on his Twitter account that he was enjoying unemployment (as of last check, he was at his condo in Hawaii). Also staying radio silent has been the company itself, which leads me to believe that it’s resigned itself to a postponed IPO. If not, it had better do some out-loud explaining, and fast. This type of stealth-mode operation is fine in a startup, but not in a company whose future will partially rest on public investor confidence.