Friday, September 24, 2010 | Posted by Aaron Goldman
I've been getting this question a lot in the 2 weeks since I announced my "decision" to take the CMO role at Kenshoo.
So, like other Connectual-related FAQs I've gotten over the years, I decided to share my answer via blog post.
First and foremost, I want to make it clear that I LOVED what I was doing with Connectual. I was privileged to be consulting with some of the most innovative companies in the space and working with some of the brightest (and best connected) minds.
I was not looking to drop Connectual. But, as they say, along came an opportunity I couldn't refuse.
I've known Kenshoo for many years dating back to my days at Resolution Media. I'd always been impressed by their technology and their team, starting at the top with CEO, Yoav Izhar-Prato.
Ever since I left Resolution to start Connectual in early 2009, Yoav has passively recruited me to get involved with Kenshoo. We explored a potential consulting opportunity and eventually began working together via Connectual in a recruiting capacity. In fact, through Connectual (and its recruiting partner, TalentFoot), I placed 2 candidates with Kenshoo.
Then, in July of 2010, Yoav came calling again. This time, he brought the big guns. Sequoia Captial. With a 3rd round of funding imminent and the profitably threshold recently surpassed, Kenshoo was ready to place a big bet on marketing.
As with all of Yoav's overtures over the years, I expressed my appreciation but politely declined to pursue. There was more I wanted to achieve with Connectual.
Then Yoav played his trump card. He had Michael Moritz call me.
Mike Moritz is no slouch. We're talking about a billionaire that had the foresight to invest in Google, Apple, Cisco, among others. The fact that Mike was willing to take 30 minutes to help recruit me proved not just that Kenshoo was for real but that it was destined for even greater things.
I began to "ask around" about Kenshoo. I talked to current clients and partners. Employees too. The verdict was unanimous. Everyone loved Kenshoo. The recurring themes were quality, reliability, integrity, innovation, and bottom-line performance.
During my time with Connectual, I sniffed around a number of different business models in the digital marketing space. I consulted with a search agency (Resolution Media), an audience exchange-buying display firm (OMG Trading Desk), an ad network (Adify), a mobile platform (Tagga), a transactional marketing firm (Cardlytics), a creative shop (Elevate Studios), and a search engine (Info.com). I also worked with tens of other firms in a "matchmaking" capacity doing talent sourcing and business development.
At the core of everything I saw was an underlying application of the key tenants of SEM to new and emerging platforms. It was then that I decided to bring sexy back to search. And Kenshoo was the perfect place to be doin' it (and doin' it and doin' it well).
Kenshoo today is a best-in-class platform for managing paid search advertising. But the infrastructure is in place for Kenshoo tomorrow to scale the platform beyond search to other channels that boast search-like features, specifically: precise audience segmentation, dynamic creative, real-time bidding, and algorithmic optimization.
Furthermore, when weighing the pros and cons of joining Kenshoo versus continuing Connectual, I focused on 3 key criteria:
1. Where can I learn the most? (Super-smart company of 120+ with Sequoia involvement or soloprenuership?)
2. Where can I have the biggest impact? (Going deep with 1 company or spread thin across tens?)
3. Where can I capture the largest financial gain? (We'd all be lying if we said this wasn't a factor.)
Over the near-term, it became clear to me that the answer to each of these questions was Kenshoo.
Then my wife (of all people, considering how much flexibility running my own biz gave me when it came to finding quality time for the family!) reminded me that I can always come back to Connectual at a later point in life.
And, as I thought that last point through, I realized that I'd be better prepared to do digital marketing consulting and matchmaking if I chose to return to it down the road with a broader worldview (Kenshoo is a truly global company), stronger connections (many of the biggest advertisers and agencies are Kenshoo clients), and a more proven ability to grow a brand (unless I screw up, of course!).
So, the answer became obvious. It was time to get Kenshoo-al.
2 weeks into my new gig, I couldn't be more pleased with my decision. The people at Kenshoo are first rate and the product (and roadmap) is more advanced and innovative than I could've imagined.
Sure, I'm drinking the kool aid now but it's also my job now to pour it!
So go ahead and try some Kenshoo Kool Aid. Smells like search. Tastes like.... victory!
(Note: more than just an Apocalypse Now reference, the Japanese translation of Kenshoo is "victory.")