GetJar gets new CEO as founder steps into app store evangelist role

GetJar COO Chris Dury is taking over the reins of the scrappy Android(s goog) app retailer, allowing its Lithuania-based CEO and founder Ilja Laurs to focus more on evangelizing the concept of the alternate and open app store, while still keeping one foot in the day-to-day operations of the company, GetJar said on Thursday.

“GetJar is continuing to expand rapidly, but now a majority of our growth is occurring in the United States,” Laurs said in a statement. “We felt it was important for top leadership to be based there, and it was an easy decision to elevate Chris given his leadership and substantial contribution.”

Dury, a veteran of startups ScanR, OneFone and Firetalk, has been handling much of the day-to-day management of the company for some time particularly as GetJar’s has grown, a spokesperson for GetJar told us. Simultaneously Laurs’ profile has been growing in the industry due to that success. By giving up the CEO title and becoming executive chairman, Laurs can continue to pursue that visionary industry role, while acknowledging Dury’s increasing importance in running the San Mateo, Calif.-based company, the spokesperson said.

Laurs launched GetJar in 2004 in Vilnius as an independent app store for Java, BlackBerry(s RIMM) and Symbian(s NOK) apps but it quickly latched on to Android’s open app distribution platform when it emerged. It got its biggest break when it landed the inital exclusive rights to Rovio’s Angry Birds for Android, which GetJar distributed as a ‘freemium’ app with embedded ads. In August, the company passed 2 billion total app downloads, and its portal hosts more than 350,000 Android applications.