Was BingoStars Higginson's downfall?
 
The official reason for the departure from NetplayTV of CEO Martin Higginson is his desire to focus on his own investment company, but industry observers this week were speculating that the spectacular failure of the group's Bingo Stars television adventure earlier this year may have influenced his decision to move on.
 
After a six month trialling period on ITV the company called it a day on BingoStars, admitting in a profit warning that it had been a costly failure. That was followed by a Netplay restructuring that included inviting interested parties to make offers on its Bingo assets, thought to be worth several millions of pounds sterling.
 
Earlier this month there was still enough steam left to raise over GBP2 million through a share placing, although the share price had declined to the 5p level.
 
Higginson, who founded the company and was the author of its impressive growth through innovative deals, will not be entirely lost to NetplayTV. A company statement notes that he will support his management successors in the immediate future, and will be available to consult on company strategies going forward.
 
His successor as CEO has been named as current MD Charles Butler, who has been with the company for almost a year and has previous industry experience at Bowman International.
 
In a company statement, Butler paid tribute to Higginson, saying:  “Martin has used his considerable entrepreneurial skills, energy, and vision to grow NetPlayTV from being a small entrepreneurial business to a major UK media business. It now delivers its unique converged TV, internet and mobile casino product on both ITV1 and Channel Five.
 
“It is my job to now build on these solid foundations. With the recent placing successfully completed, the company has been placed on a firm footing, with a clear strategy, and a renewed focus on the core live casino product. I am confident that 2011 will be a very productive year.”
 
Higginson was similarly courteous to his successor, explaining: “The recent successful placing and implementation of our revised strategy has created the opportunity for me to hand the reins over to Charles. I have enjoyed working with him over the past 12 months and I am confident he has the right skills to take the business to new heights.”