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Heini Zachariassen leaves CEO post at Vivino to make room for Olivier Grémillon

Vivino co-founder Heini Zachariassen.

Faroese entrepreneur and co-founder of wine app and marketplace Vivino will leave his post as Chief Executive Officer in a few weeks when Olivier Grémillon, former executive of Booking.com and Airbnb will take his place.

“Vivino, the world’s most downloaded mobile wine app and largest online wine marketplace, has named Olivier Grémillon as the company’s new Chief Executive Officer, effective July 26,” Vivino said in a statement. “Heini Zachariassen, Vivino’s current CEO and founder, will pass the torch to Grémillon, an expert in growing and nurturing passionate digital communities.” 

According to the statement, “Zachariassen will remain on Vivino’s board of directors and continue his role as Chief Evangelist for the company.”

Vivino was created in 2010 by wine industry outsiders Zachariassen and Theis Søndergaard, who wanted to take the guesswork out of choosing wine.  They achieved this by building the first and most comprehensive wine library in the world. Vivino has attracted an engaged community of more than 50 million people ranging from the wine curious to the wine enthusiast. Vivino’s five-star rating system is the most widely used and recognized unbiased wine scoring system in existence. Vivino also connects its community to more than 700 merchants in 17 international markets to purchase wine. 

As of February 2021, Vivino raised a 155M USD Series D round to propel additional growth and market expansion. Vivino’s e-commerce marketplace experienced its most substantial growth during the pandemic lockdown, resulting in 265M USD worth of wine sold in 2020. 

“As this past year clearly shifted consumer habits to purchasing more wine online, it felt like the right time to bring in a new leader with the skills and experience to take our business to the next stage in its development and accelerate our growth from where we are today,” Zachariassen noted. “Olivier is bringing years of success and experience to Vivino that will allow for even more consumers to buy wine through our marketplace with the confidence that they are getting the best possible wine for their specific taste.”

“Heini has steadfastly led Vivino for a decade, and we are very grateful for his continued leadership at the company,” said Christophe Navarre, Vivino’s board chairman. “Olivier’s appointment brings a fresh perspective to the business that is grounded in community and will help propel Vivino’s presence as the go-to resource for all things wine worldwide.”

Vivino’s users have scanned over 1.6 billion wine labels, written 72 million reviews, and given 204 million ratings on 13.5 million bottles of wine. Vivino’s unique wine shopping experience leverages community data to suggest personalized wine recommendations for each user with its ‘Match for You’ feature, so they always drink wine they enjoy. Vivino’s growing community of millions can purchase wines from hundreds of independent merchants in the United States and sixteen other countries.

This is the second time Zachariassen steps down as Vivino’s CEO. The first time was in 2018, when former StubHub President  Chris Tsakalakis took over the position; however, a year-and-a-half later Tsakalakis left the company with Zachariassen resuming his earlier position. In 2020, Zachariassen was named ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ at GP Bullhounds Investor Allstar Awards.

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