21 September 2000

Ralf Eck, board member in charge of product marketing at T-Online International, yesterday walked out of Europe’s largest indigenous internet portal. His abrupt exit comes just one month after that of chief executive Wolfgang Keuntje.

Eck will next week be replaced by 34-year-od Burkhard Grassmann, former head of advertising for parent company Deutsche Telekom.

Insiders say that both men quit because of culture clashes between the relatively institutional Deutsche Telekom and the more dynamic ambience at T-Online.

No reason was given for Eck’s departure, although word is that he fell foul of DT’s chief executive Ron Sommer. However, there is an alternative version from within the bunker: that Eck went of his own volition in protest at certain decisions made by Sommer.

Word is that the three surviving members of the T-Online board are equally impatient with the undue meddlings of the parent company.

News sources: Wall Street Journal / Financial Times