J. Kim Sorensen, co-founder and vice chairman of YTB International and president of the controversial YTB Travel Network, died Feb. 1 at the age of 62.
YTB, a multilevel marketer based in Wood River, Ill., was founded in 2001. Three years later it merged with Rezconnect Technologies and became YTB International.
The company operated under a referring travel agent model and had an often-uneasy relationship with other travel agents, former members and suppliers. Critics alleged the company was more interested in signing up new members than selling travel, and was running a pyramid scheme.
But YTB recruited thousands of agents and claimed hundreds of millions in travel sales, ranking No. 34 on Travel Weekly’s Power List last year.
Sorensen told Travel Weekly last year, “Our best year was $425 million in 2007.”
In late 2011, YTB International agreed to sell its travel operation to Sixth Scott LLC, which said it would operate under the name First Travel Alliance. The sale was completed and is "moving rapidly in the transition process," First Travel President Jefrey Scott said last week.
Services for Sorensen, who lived in Moro, Ill., will be announced.
“While he will forever be remembered as our fearless founder, the man who had the vision to see beyond a failed venture and turn it in to one of the greatest stories ever told, we all know that he was much more than that,” YTB International said in a statement. “A great man to say the least, Kim was a husband, father, grandfather and dear friend to so many of us.”