Gigaom reports that the partings were abrupt and stemmed from a disagreement with CEO Doug Imbruce and COO Navin Thukkaram about the direction of the company.
When we asked Qwiki about the turnover, a spokesperson confirmed the news but said Liu will stay an advisor and close friend to the company.
Whitaker’s role was replaced by Qwiki’s first hire, Owen Bossola, who was promoted to lead engineering.
Gigaom named a third departed engineer, but the company tells us he’s still working at Qwiki on a consulting basis, a decision that was made for personal reasons.
“Matt – He’s extremely talented and brought a lot of focus to the Qwiki team. Qwiki learned a lot from him but ultimately, we’re a small startup and work best with a “flatter” structure,” says a Qwiki spokesperson.
“Brad – We wish him all the best but Owen was a better fit to lead our engineering team. Being the first employee, he understood the culture, vision and technology behind Qwiki better than anyone else could.”
There are plenty of good things happening for the startup though. Cheng tells us Qwiki recently hired two new engineers, a Microsoft veteran and another a former startup executive.
It is currently launching a Publisher product, which will allow blogs and news sites to turn their content into informative videos. Meanwhile, it’s iPad app is getting great traction. Qwiki engagement time, we’re told, is 19 minutes, which is 3X industry averages.
In addition, Qwiki has signed a huge distribution deal with one of the major tech players that will give it the potential to reach tens of millions of users. We can’t reveal the partner yet, but we can tell you it’s a big win for the company. We’ll be happy to finally get that news off our chests in the upcoming weeks.