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Semenchuk quits as Citi moves tech innovation unit to Silicon Valley

28 July 2010  |  9179 views  |  0 Team meeting

Citigroup has shaken up its Growth Ventures and Innovation Unit as it looks to tap emerging technology from Silicon Valley tech firms to revitalise its retail banking operations.

Bloomberg reports that Jeff Semenchuk quit last month following four years in charge of the unit after his boss, chief innovation officer Deborah Hopkins, consolidated leadership of the 20-person division in New York, Shanghai and Palo Alto, California. Semenchuk's deputy Dion Lisle also headed to the exit at the same time.

Hopkins moved to Palo Alto from New York in March, and in April appointed former Microsoft and McKinsey staffer Sarita James as chief operating officer.

Citi chief administrative officer Don Callahan told the wire that Palo Alto made more sense as a base because it's close to Silicon Valley venture capitalists and technology startups.

"The way Silicon Valley works, it's an echo center, and when you're in the middle of it, you're going to pick up a lot more of the thinking," Callahan told Bloomberg. "When we decided to move it out to the Valley, that began a set of conversations between Debby and Jeff that ended up with a departure."

During his four-year term, Semenchuk oversaw a string of experimental pilot programmes that paired the banking giant with leading tech and mobile firms, including Obopay, SK Telecom and Microsoft. However, the Obopay programme for P2P payments was shuttered last year, and the Microsoft joint venture personal financial management programme Bundle has met with a lukewarm reception.

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