ReadWriteWeb, which was acquired by SAY Media late last year, just saw its first departure after the acquisition. The site's COO Sean Ammirati today announced that he is leaving RWW to start Birchmere Labs, which he describes and a early stage seed and studio fund. Ammirati will become the lead partner of this new venture. The fund, which itself is funded by Birchmere Ventures, will focus on community driven commerce startups, including web and mobile startups that "have strong network effects while still delivering value from the first user with transaction-based revenue models."
I've had the joy of working with Ammirati at ReadWriteWeb for almost two years. He is one of the smarter and more driven people in our business, so losing him will be a loss for SAY and RWW. At the same time, though, it's clear that Sean's entrepreneurial experience (mSpoke, a company he co-founded, was the first startup to be acquired by LinkedIn) will serve him well in his new position. It's also probably not a stretch to think that his role at RWW changed quite a bit after the acquisition.
As he told me yesterday, the new fund wants to take a very agile approach – somewhat like Kevin Rose's Milk. The fund will be both run as a lab (and hence develop its own products and startups) but also make investments in early stage companies.
For ReadWriteWeb, this is the first departure since the acquisition, though it is worth noting that the site had a very high staff turnover in the year leading up to the acquisition, with a lot of the key members leaving the site or, like RWW's former co-editor Marshall Kirkpatrick, starting their own ventures while still writing for the site now and then.