Apptegy Inc. of Little Rock has parted ways with founder and CEO Jeston George, who turned the education technology firm from a two-person startup in 2015 into one of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S.
The move comes after private investment firm JMI Equity of Baltimore took a large stake in Apptegy earlier this month with the goal of reinforcing the tech company's growth. In a statement, Apptegy said the decision for George to step down was mutual, and that the introduction of a new investment partner allowed him to transition out of his day-to-day role with the company and "enjoy the fruits of his labor."
George retains a large ownership stake in the company but will not have any role in its operations moving forward. He plans to spend time with his family and figure out his next venture, Apptegy Chief of Staff Ashley Coleman said.
JMI and software-focused private equity firm Five Elms Capital of Kansas City, Missouri, now hold the majority of shares in Apptegy. Five Elms has held a stake in Apptegy since its first fundraising round eight years ago.
The company has named Five Elms operating partner Bob Butler as interim CEO. He's a former global general manager at SafetyCulture of Kansas City, which offers companies a digital inspections and auditing platform to improve safety and reduce reporting time.
Butler will lead Apptegy while its board conducts a national search for a permanent replacement.
"Obviously, we're so grateful for Jeston's stewardship of the company," the company said. "His dedication and his leadership have been so instrumental in building Apptegy into the company that it is today and he really set us up to take advantage of a massive opportunity going forward. So while he's no longer with the company, he remains an investor and he's obviously a strong supporter of the business and we're very happy for him."
No other leadership changes were made. Coleman said George's departure will not affect the company's plans to continue hiring as it rolls out new products. Apptegy is looking to hire 300 workers over the next few years, bringing its workforce to about 700.
When asked if the company is still committed to Little Rock, Coleman said she didn't know of any plans to relocate. "The rest of us are, you know, we're pretty married to Little Rock, and I don't see that changing," she said.
George founded Apptegy, which provides schools with communications and marketing services, after he discovered that his nephew’s school didn’t have a mobile app where he could keep up with school programs. Over the years, the company's client list has grown to more than 3,000 school districts across the U.S. The company recently partnered with its first two international schools.
The company was named one of America’s Best Startup Employers by Forbes in 2020 and 2021, listed as one of Inc.’s 5000 fastest growing private companies in 2021, and ranked as of Inc.’s Best Workplaces in 2022.