500px co-Founder Oleg Gutsol departs, says he was “ousted from the company that he created”

A year ago, Toronto-based photo sharing service 500px brought on a few “tech heavy hitters” to grow its business. Andy Yang, formerly the managing director of Extreme Startups, joined as COO, and former co-founder of iStock Photo, Patrick Lor, signed on a board member.

Co-founder Oleg Gutsol stated at the time that “big ideas demand big thinkers… We’ve assembled a team of bright, innovative leaders who will help us push the boundaries of 500px as we work to achieve our goal of being the best photographer-centred platform in the world.”

Unfortunately, Gutsol is no longer with the 500px, a company he started with Evgeny Tchebotarev in 2009. Gutsol shared the news on Facebook, noting that he was “ousted from the company that [he] created by the people [he] trusted most.”

According to TechCrunch, Gutsol’s role shifted six months ago to work on special projects and Yang stepping in the CEO role. “We’re just basically going different ways. They have a very different opinion of where the company should go, and I think it was probably too strong of a push from my direction, it was probably too different – where I wanted to take the company and where they wanted to go,” Gutsol said.

500px currently has over four million photographers on its platform and aims to be the “premier photography community and remains dedicated to enabling and rewarding visual creativity for everyone.”

Ian Hardy

Ian Hardy

Ian is publisher at MobileSyrup. He's been quietly creating and building things for years and is completely addicted to Tim Hortons.

  • How do people just get “ousted” like this?

    • KuH

      Easy. The board has one main job in a company: to hire and fire the CEO. In this case, the individual members of the board lost faith in Oleg and/or believed in the story pitched to them by Andy more.

      This can happen because 500px underperformed, because Oleg took his eye off the board (maybe focusing on the company more) or because Andy wanted the job of CEO and maneuvered to get it.

      The board met. The subject of replacing the CEO was tabled by a board member (possibly coming as a complete surprise to Oleg). The board voted. A majority voted for getting rid of Oleg. Deal done.

      • Reddish Foxx

        Clarifying what KuH said, the board has one main job in the company and that’s to make sure the company performs well. Hiring and firing the CEO is often the hardest part of that job and the only thing that the board can do and no one else can.

        Last year, 500px took on a significant investment from a very high profile investor in Andreessen & Horowitz. Every time you take on powerful investors, you have to step up your game. Clearly Oleg did not do that as Andreessen is very clear about supporting founder CEOs. In fact, for them to have decided to let Oleg go almost certainly means that Oleg was not only not performing, he was actively problematic.

        This kind of stuff is heart-wrenching for everyone involved. I feel for both Oleg and Andy both of whom I can guarantee are wading through nothing but shit right now.

        • Amelia67

          And a year later…

          Perhaps Oleg was under- or not performing, but the site has been going steadily downhill for months now. They don’t seem to know what they want to be any longer and it’s become a mish-mash of snapshots and quality photography with a cluttered, unpleasant look, difficult to navigate, and no longer much of anything definitive photographically. It’s seems to have become a mini-Flickr. Some people may be happy with it, but there’s a lot of unhappiness among the paid members.