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Key staff quit to join rival service

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Virgin Net has denied that the company is on the rocks following the shock announcement that five of its key people have deserted the operation for a rival ISP. Those jumping ship include three directors and two key editorial staff. Ex-Virgin Net editorial director Rebecca St Johnston is now MD of content at ic24, the Mirror Group's ISP. Jason Smith joins as sales director, and Richard Rees will join ic24 in the New Year as finance director. Rick Glanvill has already joined St Johnston as her deputy, and David Black is busy being the new managing editor of content at ic24. They all join David Clarke, Trinity Mirror Media's Group MD of New Media, who left Virgin Net in April this year to take up the top post at ic24. With such one-way traffic, it seems likely that Virgin Net could haemorrhage even more staff in the coming weeks and months. A spokesman for Virgin Net denied that Richard Branson's Web company had been holed below the water line saying that the move was simply "indicative of the industry". "We've promoted people internally to fill the gaps," he said. "And we've still got ten members of our management team left. "Momentarily, we have been destabilised but it won't last long. No one is indispensable," he said. He also denied that this mutiny is a result of a new strategy from Virgin Net which seeks to promote a new service, Virgin Unlimited, as a cheap e-commerce site selling everything from bargain basement washing machines to knock down fridges. He also denied that the appointment of Virgin Net MD Alex Heath in September from within the Virgin group had caused irreconcilable personality clashes with other members of the management team. Either way, Heath's short time at the helm has not been plain sailing. He was in charge when Virgin Net dumped plans to open a support centre in Wiltshire giving 100 people the sack even before they had started work. Now he's losing his workforce. Whatever next? ®

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