Two leaders of Toronto-based online education firm Top Hat have both recently departed, BetaKit has learned.
Top Hat CEO Joe Rohrlich and CRO Matt Schurk have both recently been removed from the Top Hat website’s team page. A source indicated to BetaKit that their departures were communicated to the company in a January 2 announcement.
At time of publication, Rohrlich’s LinkedIn profile had not yet been updated, still listing him as Top Hat CEO, while Schurk’s indicated that he left Top Hat this month and has since taken on a new role as chief sales officer at Texas delivery software provider Auctane. It has since been announced that Rohrlich has become the CEO of San Francisco-based subscription and billing platform Recurly.
As the board finalizes its search for a new leader, Top Hat CMO Maggie Leen will be taking on an expanded role with the company.
A statement from Top Hat shared with BetaKit following the publication of this story noted that the decision behind Rohrlich’s departure was made “collaboratively and mutually” between Rohrlich and Top Hat’s board of directors, with Rohrlich leaving “to return to an industry that aligns more closely with his core strengths and interests.” According to the company, Schurk departed for a new role outside of higher education independently of this.
The firm said that planning for Rohrlich and Schurk’s departures has been underway “for some time,” noting that it is now in the final stages of appointing a new leader, whom it expects to announce in the near future. With Rohrlich and Schurk now no longer at the company, Top Hat said that CMO Maggie Leen will be taking on an expanded role with the business.
BetaKit has reached out to Rohrlich, Schurk, and Top Hat investors Inovia Capital and Georgian Partners, which both hold seats on the company’s board, for additional comment.
Top Hat sells courseware used by over 24,000 educators and three million students across more than 750 North American colleges and universities. In recent years, some of its work has focused on acquiring conventional publishers as it looks to digitize the textbook business.
These leadership changes come about five months after BetaKit reported that Top Hat laid off 42 employees, or less than 10 percent of its team, as part of a “workforce optimization initiative” in August 2023.
“Optimizing our workforce positions us to invest our resources in strategies and innovation that have the highest impact on value for our customers and growth for the business,” a Top Hat spokesperson told BetaKit at the time.
Shortly afterwards, Top Hat added former Ancestry finance leader Curtis Tripoli as CFO.
Recently, a part of the company’s focus has been on incorporating generative artificial intelligence to help improve the teaching and learning experience for faculty and students.
Top Hat most recently closed a $130-million USD Series E round in early 2021 at a half-a-billion valuation from longtime backer Georgian Partners.
Rohrlich was Top Hat founding CEO Mike Silagadze’s “handpicked successor.” He assumed leadership of the company shortly after the firm’s Series E financing, taking over for Silagadze, who remains on Top Hat’s board.
Before joining Top Hat, Rohrlich worked for more than a decade with Texas-based marketing software firm Bazaarvoice. As Bazaarvoice CRO, Rohrlich helped grow the company’s revenue from $30 million to more than $300 million.
For his part, Schurk was also a former leader at Bazaarvoice, spending eight years there, most recently as VP of sales and client success. He joined Top Hat as CRO in July 2021.
UPDATE (01/11/24): This story has been updated to note former Top Hat CEO Joe Rohrlich’s new role.
Feature image courtesy Top Hat.