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Thinkific Labs Inc. THNC-T has tapped recently appointed board member and former Groupon Inc. chief operating officer Steve Krenzer to serve as president under CEO Greg Smith.

The appointment is to last 18 months, but could extend longer “if it goes really well and he’s having a good time and we’re achieving the results we need,” Mr. Smith said in an interview.

The Vancouver software company was one of the darlings of the recent boom in technology initial public offerings, which saw 20 companies go public on the Toronto Stock Exchange from summer 2020 to last fall. Thinkific, which provides a platform for entrepreneurs and businesses to create and run online courses, faced brisk investor demand before going public at $13 a share and closing up 20 per cent in its debut in April, 2021, topping a $1-billion valuation.

But like most tech companies that went public in that era, Thinkific’s stock has collapsed. Early pandemic winners lost their lustre as investors wondered how much demand might tail off as restrictions eased and economic conditions worsened. Thinkific’s stock fell further in February when it gave a quarterly forecast that was below analysts’ expectations and said it would rejig its sales and marketing strategy. The company cut 20 per cent of its staff in March and parted ways with chief marketing officer Henk Campher last month.

Thinkific lays off 100 as TSX’s bumper crop of 2021 tech IPOs continues to disappoint

Analysts are watching for the company, whose share price has skidded to $2, to return its annual revenue growth rate to 60 per cent from its current rate around 40 per cent.

The incoming president’s mandate is to bring his senior leadership experience in scaling up technology companies and to support Mr. Smith, who said he needed help as a first-time tech CEO navigating the company along a similar path of growth.

“While I have some people on my team who have been there, I never have. So I’m quite self-aware and know I can learn things quickly, but pattern recognition, matching, and having the experience of been-there, done-that at this scale of company is really important for us to be able to move faster,” Mr. Smith said.

He added the senior leadership had looked to recruit someone of Mr. Krenzer’s pedigree into the role since last year, and invited him to become an executive after working closely with him in recent months.

Mr. Smith added the temporary appointment “is a signal to the market and my team internally that I’m not stepping back and this isn’t the board coming in and saying we need to do this sort of thing. This is our leadership saying, ‘We would love to have some help.’” Mr. Krenzer’s mandate, he added, was “accelerating our growth but doing it in an efficient way.”

Mr. Krenzer, who previously was CEO of marketing software company Core Digital Media, said in a statement that the opportunity to help Thinkific, “as it moves into the next stage of growth, was very compelling, and one I’m looking forward to.”

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