Turtle Beach’s new CEO discusses staying on top

Turtle Beach has a brand new CEO, Juergen Stark, and at CES we spoke with him about how he can keep the audio company going.  

In 2012, Turtle Beach went through a fairly significant change. The company was celebrating its most successful year yet, it was offering its most diverse lineup in its history, and the coveted MLG sponsorship that Astro had held onto for yours was theirs. Things were going well.

Then in September, their CEO and co-founder, Carmine Bonanno, announced that he was stepping down. He would remain with the company on the Board, along with co-founder Fred Romano who he started Turtle Beach’s parent company with, Voyetra, with in 1975. But the stewardship of the company was up for grabs.

These days when a CEO steps down, they typically leave the company in one of two states: If the CEO has the luxury of leaving on their own terms, it typically means the company is in good shape. The successor then inherits an already strong company, and things go on as they were. The other option, common in these days of financial uncertainty, is that they are forced out, leaving the successor to rebuild. The positive side of this is that there is usually nowhere to go but up. If that doesn’t work, the successor’s successor then has the chance to go nowhere but up. Turtle Beach, however, is in a different position.

The company has exploded recently and has the potential to go much further into the mainstream of audio peripheral makers. A few years back at CES, its presence was limited. They occupied a small space, and were known mainly as a niche manufacturer of gaming headsets – albeit one with a history of quality. Now, they are everywhere. The Turtle Beach brand is in most electronics stores, and with the MLG sponsorship just beginning to bloom and a new line of high end, professional headsets being developed as a result, Turtle Beach is an attractive company, and the potential is incredible.

That’s where Juergen Stark comes in. The new CEO has a proven track record. His tenure at Motorola as its COO saw him overseeing global customer service, QA testing, and program management. He is also credited with at least partially being responsible for Motorola’s turnaround and success that led to it being purchased by Google in 2011 for $9.5 billion. Stark’s resume also includes several years spent in various Motorola roles, including time as the head of Productivity business working with Windows Mobile based phones.

Although by his own admission he is still getting the lay of the gaming landscape, Turtle Beach looks to be in good hands. At CES we spoke with Stark about what attracted him to Turtle Beach, what the relatively dour 2012 sales results of the gaming industry mean for the company, and how the audio manufacturer can continue its upward mobility.