promotes Jill Layfield to CEO

Posted By: Steve Bellamy on January 17, 2011 5:08 pm

On February 1, 2011, Jill Layfield, now COO of, will be handed the reins by company co-founder and CEO, Jim Holland, and will become the new CEO of the online retailer of premium outdoor gear. After 14 years at the helm, Holland will welcome a different form of leadership for the company, as Executive Chairman of the Board. On that day, co-founder John Bresee will also make a transition, taking on an advisory role for Backcountry and providing strategic insight for the company and management team.

“As I reflect back on the past 14 years, I’m most proud of having brought together some of the absolute best people in specialty outdoor, action sports retail, and ecommerce,” said Holland.  “It’s this incredibly unique collection of talented people that makes Backcountry the success that it is today and Jill stands out among them. Jill’s energy and contagious optimism combined with her intuitive gut sense and her deep understanding of our business make her the right choice to lead this passionate team. She’s widely respected and I know she’ll leverage the collective wisdom of our people while keeping them sharply focused on our path ahead. We have some powerful momentum at Backcountry and we see some enormous opportunities in front of us. I am excited to remain plugged in and to continue to work closely with Jill and the Executive Team to guide us forward while also finding a bit more time to subject the gear we sell to some rigorous field testing on some adventures yet to come.”

Holland (a former Olympic ski jumper) and Bresee (a self-proclaimed ski bum) started in 1996. They pooled the $2,000 they had between them, built a website, and hoped they could sell something. A small, non-descript garage in a one-stoplight mountain town was the company’s first home. Because they had zero inventory, the men had to place an expedited order from the vendor so they could fulfill the first item they sold — a PIEPS avalanche beacon.

Things have changed. was acquired by Liberty Media in 2007 and is now part of the Liberty Interactive Group (Nasdaq: LINTA). The online retailer runs nine e-commerce stores, has more than 700 employees, and requires a state of the art distribution center to house nearly 1,000 brands.

With nine years of consumer Internet experience at, Cisco Systems, and two tech startups under her belt, Layfield, joined in 2004. As Director of Customer Marketing, she was responsible for 75% of Backcountry’s revenue, which grew over sevenfold from the year she joined to the year she moved up to take on more responsibility as the Vice President of Product Management, 2009. As VP of Product Management, Layfield led the company’s product strategy and execution to ensure the best user experience possible. She distinguished herself as a formidable strategist in this role, and in March of 2010, she was promoted to COO. Now, nearly one year later, she is taking on a challenge for which she has been uniquely trained. After six years of exposure to and influence on all aspects of the business, she will be CEO — in charge of running day-to-day operations and leading the company to the next iteration of what it means to be the best core gear etailer.

Layfield will lead an exceptionally competent team of experienced executives whose collective efforts have grown into a strong, successful company. There will be no further shifts in’s executive team, nor any other changes to the company’s organizational structure at this time.  

“We have an incredible team at, and we’ve had an amazing year,” said Layfield. “I’m incredibly proud of this company, and I’m excited to keep it moving in the direction we’re headed. I’m in an enviable position among newly appointed CEOs — I’m inheriting a company that is thriving.”’s parent company, Liberty Media Corp., supports Holland and Bresee’s decision to change their roles, and is a strong proponent of Layfield’s assignment as CEO.

“Over the course of the past 14 years, Jim and John have built an industry-leading company, with the performance to match.  They have succeeded in creating a culture in which talented people thrive, and where job #1 is to earn and keep the trust of the customer.  In his new role as Executive Chairman, Jim will ensure that the values that have been the bedrock of Backcountry’s success will endure and continue to guide the company.  We can think of no better steward than Jill to take the company forward.  She has earned the organization’s trust through her passion and many years of accomplishments at the company.  The Backcountry team is the best in the industry, and we are excited about the future,” said Michael Zeisser, Senior Vice President of Liberty Media Corporation.