Trevor Healey, who last week announced that he was leaving a chief innovation officer position with Europe's Telefonica to become CEO of Amobee, admits that friends and colleagues questioned why he would leave a secure C-level position with a major carrier to join an admittedly smaller "early stage" company.
Healey, who has been a member of Amobee's board for the past two years, says it was that position that gave him a high-level glimpse of a company that he thought was on the verge of something big. "I genuinely just missed the excitement of early stage companies and the adrenaline of that, and the other reason was that looking down from a board level at Amobee, the company was doing really, really well," Healey explains.
But it's show time for a new CEO who also advised on that company's board, admits Healey. "For the past few years I've kind of sat on the eagle's nest, having an opinion as to how the company should be run and what they should do... and now I've found myself having to deliver on what I said," Healey jokes, adding that he's excited to move forward with Amobee, which he sees as on the brink of a major inflection point.
Healey says Amobee, which delivers a mobile advertising platform, is ready to move beyond the technologically driven strategy of the past and become a true advertising company in its own right. "People kind of copy the Google model and basically wrote platforms that were generally algorithmic and they looked at mobile advertising from a perspective of gather as many impressions as you can, from wherever you can and sell them to whoever you can for whatever price you can get. And if you can do a lot of that, you can make money," he says.
In a break from the past, Amobee wants to switch from that approach and is looking to actually sit down with companies to figure out their objectives and then run large-scale campaigns for them. "That's what we've done," Healey says. "We basically have cool and large companies as our customer base. Even Google themselves are a customer."
Looking forward, Healey says he sees a market where the largest brands are going to be fighting over mobile consumers. "The real spenders in the market are the big guys, and we want to help the big guys advertise to the mobile consumer and win the mobile consumer."
To do that, Healey says Amobee will put together campaigns that leverage an amalgam of wireless technologies, from NFC to Digital Out of Home (DOOH) to simple SMS. But Healey says that given the sizes of the accounts he envisions Amobee dealing with — think Coca-Cola — SMS just isn't as interesting anymore to companies that want to deal in rich content.
That said, Healey acknowledges that it's going to take some re-imagining from the inside out as he asks Amobee to see itself as a player in a much bigger game than has been the case in the past. He's says it's akin to an attitude change as to how a company defines success.
"You have to have a culture in your sales team where they view success as a 5 to 10 million dollar order. Not success being a $50,000 or $100,000 order," Healey says.
Healey says he expects head counts at Amobee to nearly double within the next 12 months, from 125 employees to about 250. He says that kind of growth might represent a scaling problem for some companies at the platform level. "We're lucky that the operators put us through the ringer effectively and made us over-engineer when we were developing our platform and now we're ready. So we have that kind of scalable approach."
As the new CEO of Amobee, Healey comes with no shortage of confidence or vision. "Pardon my brashness here, but I think we can become Silicon Valley's first advertising company. I'm not saying that other companies that provide platforms to enable advertising aren't in the advertising space, but they aren't advertising companies."