Local dot-com names new chief as IPO tactic


Baltimore-based Rewards- Plus.com has brought in a new chief executive officer in a move the company said should help in its efforts to go public.

M. Gordon Gaddy, a founding officer at the online retail insurance conduit Insweb.com, took the helm yesterday. He replaces company founder Kenneth P. Barksdale, who becomes president and chief operating officer.

RewardsPlus, which recently received a $69 million infusion of capital in its fifth round of financing, is among the first to enter the market for Web-based management of employee benefits.

The 4-year-old Baltimore company has been growing rapidly and expects to become profitable in the next eight to 12 months, according to Barksdale.

The new CEO is expected to communicate Rewards- Plus' strategy and develop the e-commerce business, which the company says has 1,100 corporate clients, including AT&T; Corp., Lucent Technologies Inc., Hyatt Hotels and Southland Corp.

Barksdale said Rewards- Plus expects to go public soon, adding that Gaddy's experience at a publicly traded company and in e-commerce were what led him to step aside. Gaddy has been on the RewardsPlus board of directors for two years.

"He knows the ways to deliver products online. He's got the background," Barksdale said. "And it's a matter of what makes sense to Wall Street. It's not an ego thing. Our intent is to win this, to make money, to go public."

Gaddy, 63, was traveling yesterday and not available for comment.

In addition to his work at Insweb, he has also served as a senior executive at the Fortis companies and American Express/Fireman's Fund.

Barksdale, 40, who recently won Ernst & Young's emerging entrepreneur award in Maryland, will run internal operations.

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