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Rosetta Stone CEO plans to step down, become chairman

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Arlington-based Rosetta Stone has begun looking for a successor to CEO Tom Adams who plans step down from the job to become chairman of board.

The technology-based language training company said Thursday that its board has accepted a plan proposed by Adams for him to “transition” from president and CEO to board chairman.

The switch would take place when Adams’ successor is identified. The company has hired Champion Scott Partners, an executive search firm, to find a new CEO.

“While I am very proud of Rosetta Stone’s tremendous accomplishments over the last nine years, I believe that even greater opportunities lie ahead as we endeavor to extend our leadership in international markets, and as the company evolves from the CD-ROM based desktop software model to digital services, combining effective self-study with live online conversational coaching in a multi-device platform,” Adams said in a statement. “I look forward to assisting with the search for my successor and to the further development and execution of the company’s strategy as chairman of the board. While we conduct the search to find my successor, my management team and I will continue to work hard to make progress against our strategic objectives.”

Adams would replace outgoing chairman Laurence Franklin, who praised the CEO’s leadership. “During Tom’s tenure as CEO, Rosetta Stone’s revenue grew more than twenty-five-fold from $10 million in 2002 to $259 million in 2010. During this period, Rosetta Stone firmly established itself as the global innovation leader in language learning by leveraging technology to deliver better learner results,” he said in a statement.

Adams, who has been CEO since 2003, took Rosetta Stone public in April 2009 during the depths of the Great Recession. The stock sold for more than $25 the first day of trading and rose to more than $30 in the following weeks.

Adams was named Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year for 2009.

Rosetta Stone’s stock recently has traded around $11 a share. The company has reported losses in three of the past four quarters as it spent heavily in building its international customer base.

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