Wow. What an experience! Twelve years ago Jason Fairchild and I started working in my living room cooking up ideas to build a brand new kind of ad marketplace – a “real-time ad exchange”.
To do this we planned to bring publishers together in a “market” which would aggregate a large amount of ad supply that would in turn attract buyers. We wanted to clean out all the arbitrage end-runs that ad networks were pulling on publishers and help publishers get full and fair value for the consumer engagement they had created. And we wanted to build it with great people and run it with quality and integrity.
Those initial ideas led to the creation of real-time bidding at OpenX in 2008. As with many new business models there was a lot of skepticism at first, but we evangelized like hell and the next decade saw a lot of growth. As a result, cumulatively OpenX has provided publishers with billions of dollars in revenue.
Over the years we drove a lot of innovation in our space. We were pioneers in real-time bidding. We led a multi-year industry-wide battle against fraudsters to ensure the integrity of traffic quality. We invented header bidding and saw it become standard across our industry. More recently we were the first exchange to move into the public cloud. Today I’m very excited about what we’re doing with people-based marketing for the open web. Throughout it all we have grown from a handful of people to hundreds and built our company from my living room in Altadena to a global business with offices in LA, San Francisco, New York, London, Krakow, Hamburg, Tokyo, Singapore and Sydney.
But despite the dizzying array of changes, the root principles have stayed true and consistent. Connect sellers with buyers through a market-based system that drives value for both. Use a competitive auction to keep the playing field fair. Fight for quality and be prepared to forgo short-term revenue for product and customer integrity. Keep finding new waves of innovation. And most of all, work with people you respect and trust.
It’s been fascinating, challenging, fun, hard, frustrating, demanding, motivating and more. I’ve made plenty of mistakes and have learned so much. Best of all, I’ve never been bored, it’s always been interesting, exciting and energizing.
I’m extremely grateful to all of our publishers, buyers and partners for working with us over the years. In several cases we’ve been partners for over a decade and have worked together to create the entire programmatic category together.
Most of all, I’m profoundly grateful to have worked with so many wonderful people at OpenX. Thank you for investing your precious time working with us. It’s been wonderful to build enduring friendships with so many people over the years. Our current team has been accomplishing amazing things and I am tremendously excited about their level of focus and commitment and what they will create next here at OpenX. It’s been an honor to lead this group of people through so many phases of OpenX’s life. We also have a fantastic alumni group and I’m thrilled to see all the outstanding things they are doing.
I’ve loved building this company from scratch. Now, after twelve years of cranking at OpenX, I want to explore something new and embark on a fresh adventure. Specifically I wanted to move into another space entirely, build products directly for consumers and ideally, work on something with a powerful social dimension. So I’m incredibly fortunate to be joining GoFundMe, which hits all these points in spades.
I’m also very fortunate that my long-time friend and business partner John Gentry is taking over as OpenX CEO. John and I have worked together co-running OpenX for the last seven years and we’ve had a blast doing it. John is intimately familiar with every aspect of our business and industry and he has been central to crafting our strategy for 2020. John’s knowledge, experience and character will provide OpenX with excellent leadership and great continuity.
I remain deeply committed to OpenX’s success. I will continue to serve as Chairman of the Board and I will always provide whatever help I can. OpenX has been a defining experience for me and will be a central part of my life forever.