By Allan Maurer
RALEIGH, NC – The founders of AIMatch, a startup focused on helping publishers sell their ad inventory, have been on this ride before.
Jeff Wood, CEO, Guy Taylor, and Ryan Treichler are all veterans of one of the Research Triangle region’s major startup success stories, Accipiter. Here’s our original report on the launch of their new company: Online ad veterans launch new company in Raleigh.
Founded in 1996, Accipiter sold online publishers an ad serving solution with behaviorial targeting capabiliites and other tools. It operated independently until 2002 with venture-backing from Durham-based Intersouth Partners.
It eventually sold CMGI in a deal that ended up worth more than $500 million.
In 2006 it sold sold again, to Seattle-based Atlas, the technologies business unit of aQuantive for $30.3 million. Then, Microsoft bought aQuantive for $6 billion in 2007 and turned it into Microsoft Advertising.
Lessons learned along the way
In an interview with TechJournal South, we’ll be running in two parts, Wood, Taylor and Treichler tell us they acquired new perspectives about the online advertising space and running a business along the way. Those insights helped them shape their new venture, AIMatch. The “AI,” they say, means “Advertising Intelligence.”
“Being in those larger companies gave us a better view of the whole advertising ecosystem,” says Wood. “You got a more holistic view.”
In the smaller world of Accipiter, Treichler adds, “We have a very myopic view of what our customers’
problems were. We were focused on a narrow set of problems.”
That meant, he explains, “We were leaving things on the table or we were not really talking to the people who controlled the purse strings in an organization.”
Talking to the right person makes it much easier to sell them something, he adds.
“As we became integrated with these larger organizations, we were talking to our customers in a much broader way,” Treichler says.
Product management a key
He says that being acquired by aQuantive was interesting because they had a very strong product management focus as an organization. That has impacted how they shaped their new firm, he says.
“As a startup the first time, we had a product manager but it wasn’t something that really drove the organization.”
A strong product management focus helped aQuantive avoid being “willy-nilly about the needs of their customers,” says Treichler. “It enabled them to prioritize things with strategic goals in mind, so that you wind up having a product grow in a more optimal way.”
That’s one of the things they have taken to heart at AIMatch, he says, “Ensuring that we have a very strong prodcut management culture.”
Keeping a strategic focus
That means that rather than trying to solve every problem a customer may present, they’re focused on building out strategically for long term success. “A customer may want a specific feature right now that might not be strategic to the business,” Treichler says.
That wasn’t always the case in the Accipiter startup culture. “Sometimes we spent months developing a particular feature and by the time we delivered it, the needs had changed.”
“Understanding what the customers’ goals are in the end and understanding the product in terms of the needs of multiple customers lets you develop something much better for the customer.
“You still want agile, quick development, but you want to make sure you’re being proactive, not reactive. That’s what we took away from strong product management focus.”
Wood concurred. “A year ago when we started (building AIMatch) we took that type of thinking and ran a lot of ideas. We saw a big need and honed in on that. Then, Wood says, they stepped back and focused on how to architect their product so that it would be able to scale up rapidly and handle the growth of digital advertising he sees ready to burst into exponential growth for the next five to ten years.
Next: The focus: selling the direct sales inventory. What the AIMatch Founders learned at Microsoft. What they’re bringing to market.
- Online ad veterans launch new company in Raleigh
- aiMatch is ready for digital ad explosion
- Digital media advertising growing with increase in data and devices
- Seattle-based Atlas acquires Accipiter for $30.3 Million
- Accipiter closes $2 million investment
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