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RedBubble CEO drops role at Aconex

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The executive at the centre of the RedBubble Hipster Hitler scandal has quit from his key role as chairman on software as a service company Aconex.

High profile internet entrepreneur Martin Hosking has resigned as a director and Chairman of Aconex on Friday ahead of a directions hearing that was scheduled for Monday in a Victorian court, challenging his position as the company.

In a statement released on the company website on Friday night, Aconex state Hosking resigned “in order to focus on his role as CEO of RedBubble.”

San Francisco based Aconex non-executive director Simon Yencken, has replaced Hosking as Chairman.

Hosking, who is a significant shareholder of Aconex and held an executive role with the construction and engineering software focused company for seven years has attracted the wrong kind of publicity for the company in recent weeks.

As founder and CEO of the online art community site, RedBubble, he has been under attack for his controversial decision to support Hipster Hitler’s range of Nazi-baiting t-shirts and merchandise on his site.

Following widely reported media activity on the issue, he decided to drop his ‘free speech’ stance and withdraw the offending material. This week RedBubble also changed its policy on children's clothing after outrage over Hipster Hitler kids wear.

Hosking told The Register that his decision had nothing to do with any views expressed by the Aconex board, “there was no pressure on me from the Aconex board in relation to this matter. Aconex is an entirely separate business and they did not have any involvement in the decision.”

However, the controversy has not been tolerated by some Aconex shareholders with a number of irate stakeholders asking for his resignation. A letter from a minority shareholder to the Aconex board, obtained by The Register this week, calls for Hoskings resignation following the negative association with RedBubble. It states that the issues “require urgent attention before Aconex may suffer further, and possibly irreversible, loss and damage to its business reputation by its association with Mr Hosking.”

Aconex backers feature the top end of town including shopping centre billionaire John Gandel of the Gandel Group, who is also heavily involved in Jewish community philanthropy in Australia and is a co-founder of Melbourne’s Jewish Museum, along with MYOB founder Craig Winkler and Liberal party MP Greg Hunt. Michael Robinson, formerly managing partner and co-chair of international law firm Allens Arthur Robinson, is on the board.

Meanwhile sources close to Aconex reveal that in the background to the RedBubble controversy, Hosking was also facing renewed legal pressure relating to his role at the company. In January of this year Aconex called a meeting to pass a resolution to remove Martin Hosking as a director of Aconex, while the resolution was defeated at the EGM, the matter has resurfaced.

According to sources, last week, legal proceedings were filed by two Aconex shareholders in the Federal Court relating to alleged director misconduct, including alleged conflict of interest against Martin Hosking, at the EGM and in the lead up to it. The first court hearing in this proceeding was due to be held on Monday the 20th June. ®

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