Metacafe gets a new CEO

Metacafe, the online video startup that was rumored to be close to an acquisition deal for $200 million or so last December, is getting a new CEO. Co-founder Arik Czerniak tells us that he is stepping down as CEO and will remain at the company focusing on products and strategy. Erick Hachenburg, previously of Electronic Arts, will be taking over as CEO of the company that has offices in Palo Alto and Tel-Aviv Israel.

Czerniak tells us that the guard change “is great news for the company,” and Hachenburg “is a guy who is going to lead us to the next level.”

Metacafe has been adding other new executives recently. In January the company said it had hired Mort Greenberg, VP Sales, Allyson Campa, VP Marketing, and added Bud Colligan as its Executive Chairman. Metacafe, also opened a New York office “to better serve its advertisers and media partners.” The company has raised at least $19 million from investors, including Benchmark Capital and Accel Partners.

In December TechCrunch reported that Metacafe’s acquisition deal might had fallen through because of traffic concerns, and cited Comscore numbers that showed the startup had a 25% traffic drop in monthly unique vistors — from a high of 4.2 million in September, to 3.1 million in November.

Numbers compiled on NewTeeVee from Comscore for the month of December, show that Metacafe had 2.95 million total unique visitors for that month (U.S. audience). Numbers from Compete compiled on NewTeeVee say that Metacafe is ranked #14 with a 1.3% market share and 1.57 million unique monthly visitors, also based on a U.S. audience.

Hitwise data says comparing Jan-07 versus Dec-06, the market share of visits to the site among all U.S. web sites increased 1% — that’s in contrast to the company’s growth between Jan-06 and Jan-07 where Hitwise says its market share of visits to the site increased 912% among all US websites. That year over year traffic boost came as a result of the company sharing the advertising revenues with video creators — an advantage now blunted by YouTube’s recent announcement.

It seems like the traffic concerns are real, and the company is looking for ways to turn around revive a traffic decline. Investors, for one, are always eager to press for the symbolic change of the guard when things go south. The new ceo will have his work cut out for him, trying to revive the company and beat its competitors