Angie’s List, Inc.’s long-time chief executive officer William Oesterle plans to step down from his positions with the company to pursue other interests, including becoming more “civically involved” in the online consumer review company’s home state of Indiana.
Oesterle co-founded the company, then known as Brownstone Publishing, LLC, with Chief Marketing Officer Angie Hicks in 1995 and has been on the company’s board of directors ever since. He has been the company’s CEO since January 1999. The company changed its name to AngieÂ’s List, Inc. in April 2010 and went public in November 2011.
Oesterle will remain as CEO until a successor is appointed. He will serve on the company’s board at least through the remainder of his current term. Angie’s List has hired executive search firm Spencer Stuart to help find Oesterle’s successor.
Oesterle reportedly wants to re-enter state politics and help repair Indiana’s image after the passage of the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Earlier, he had managed two-term Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels’ first election campaign in 2004.
Oesterle was outspoken during a recent, high-profile debate over the passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act signed into law by Governpr Mike Pence that many saw as opening the way to discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people. Oesterle made waves in late March when he said his company has pulled its proposed campus expansion project on Indianapolis’ Near East Side from City-County Council consideration as a result of the passage of the controversial Act.
Oesterle’s planned departure from Angie’s List is seen by some in the state’s business and political circle as a direct effort to unseat Gov. Pence, a Republican like Oesterle.
Oesterle has reported said that Indiana’s public image “took a shellacking” after passage of Religious Freedom Restoration Act spurred widespread criticism from gay rights groups, much of the business community and others.