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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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Lindsey Auguste and Dennis Galbraith

Lindsey Auguste and Dennis Galbraith Investigative Reporters

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Chip Perry Leaving AutoTrader; Schwartz to Take Over

 

Cox Enterprises announced today that Chip Perry will be replaced by Sandy Schwartz as the head of AutoTrader Group, effective May 1. Schwartz will also retain his position as the leader of Manheim, giving him control of all the Automotive units within Cox Enterprises. The official release was complementary of Perry, but one could write a book about what he has done building AutoTrader.com and the AutoTrader Group over the past 16 years.

Chip Perry was the first employee of AutoTrader.com, when he was asked to create the product in 1997. Until then, automotive Internet was a lead generation business, pioneered by Autobytel. Chip had the foresight to know that penetration would be the key. The relationship with Manheim was leveraged to quickly get thousands of vehicles up online. Under Chip’s leadership, AutoTrader.com never gave up its leadership role in this space.

In recent years, AutoTrader.com has ballooned into AutoTrader Group, with acquisitions like vAuto, VinSolutions, and HomeNet. Some dealers feel they pay too much for AutoTrader.com, but there is no denying the majority of franchised dealers use the product. Whatever you feel about AutoTrader Group and Chip Perry, if you met the man even once, you felt his energy and have a story to tell. What will you remember most about Chip, and where do you think Sandy Schwartz will take things from here?

Dennis Galbraith
You would be hard pressed to find anyone running a $1 billion company who sends more time with his or her customers than Chip Perry spends with dealers. Over the years, it was my pleasure to know Chip as both a customer and a competitor. He knows his business, knows his customers, and never loses sight of his objectives. Most of all, Chip seems to have an endless supply of energy. He was a true pioneer in automotive internet and never once believed the role of the internet was to replace dealers or sales people. It's hard to picture AutoTrader Group without him.
Glenn Pasch
There is so much we will all discuss about Chip in terms of his impact on the auto industry. What I will remember is his ability to make you feel important and he spoke with you. He was open to hear your feedback and was very engaging and fun to be around. I wish him the best and look forward to his next chapter of influence.
Jared Hamilton
Yea, this is a really big deal. Chip has done a fantastic job at building an incredible marketplace. Yet despite running a billion dollar business, he is very approachable, knows his customers and is good to the industry. I am personally very grateful for the one-on-one time Chip has accorded me, and the advice he has lent. He has had good impact on how I think as a leader. Chip will be missed at Trader, i am sure, but I wish him well in his next ventures whatever they may be. Success will follow Chip - that is for sure. As for Trader, they will continue to grow and do well, they have a great brand, a killer leadership team and solid products. Exciting times for all involved...
Larry Schlagheck
This will put a lot on Sandy's plate. Manheim continues to restructure, it's TRA division is an ever-shrinking business, and now ATG on top of that. I think we'll see management changes/additions within 6 months.
Chuck  Parker
Wonder just how "complimentary" the AutoTrader release really was. They buried it seven paragraphs down in the release, do not include his departure in the email subject line, and delegated the announcement to their PR company. Chip Perry deserves all the Glenn and Dennis and thousands of others will say about him. Probably no one individual executive in the automotive trade side of the industry has had as much impact, influence and integrity than Chip.

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