Humphrey yields reins at Digex McCleary taking over from the founder

January 26, 1996|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF

Doug Humphrey just demoted himself and hired his new boss.

The founder of the Digital Express Group in Beltsville announced yesterday that satellite company executive Christopher McCleary will become the new chief executive officer of the fast-growing Internet access provider.

Mr. Humphrey will revert to his role as chief technical officer.

"For the company to go to the next level, you really have to have someone who has management experience," said Mr. Humphrey.

Mr. McCleary, 46, is leaving his position as vice president and general manager of American Mobile Satellite Corp.'s Satellite Telephone Service. Digex's announcement come the day after Reston, Va.-based AMSC put its new nationwide service into operation.

Frank Adams, president of Grotech Capital Group in Baltimore, said Mr. Humphrey told Digex board members several months ago that the company was growing so fast that he had his hands full handling the technical side of the business.

According to Digex, sales increased tenfold in 1995, to $10.7 million, as the privately held company expanded from the Baltimore-Washington region to New York; Boston; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; and Richmond, Va. Employment has grown to nearly 100.

Mr. Adams said Mr. Humphrey had no qualms about relinquishing the CEO title.

"He knows what he does well; he knows what the objectives are, and his view is I own a big piece of this wagon, let's find the right horses to pull it," said Mr. Adams, whose venture capital company is Digex's main financial backer.

Mr. Humphrey, 36, said Mr. McCleary was the unanimous choice of the board and Digex management team. Clyde Heintzelman participated in the hiring and will continue to serve as chief operating officer, he said.

Mr. Adams said the company was looking for a chief executive who had experience in finance, marketing and operations and who had been through an initial public offering.

Having Mr. McCleary on board will increase Digex's credibility with Wall Street, Mr. Humphrey said.

Concentrating on the technical side of the business will have other advantages for Mr. Humphrey.

"Clearly he's more comfortable in jeans, T-shirt, sitting in front of a computer terminal than anything else," Mr. Adams said.

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