Metamarkets

Metamarkets is a real-time analytics platform with applications in programmatic advertising. They enable digital media buyers, sellers and exchanges to make better decisions by providing a visual and intuitive reporting interface into trillions of real-time advertising transactions. Metamarkets is akin to a Bloomberg terminal for online media markets.

IN HIS OWN WORDS
FOUNDER/CEO, MIKE DRISCOLL

Shared vision and commitment

When investors get the big vision they tend to have patience, which allows the company to take a long view without being distracted by what’s hot in the markets.As an entrepreneur, you’re always looking for investors who get the big vision, not just those who can write a check. Not many people can actually finish your sentences. The way I thought about investors was, ‘If you ran into this person, would you want them to be your co-founder?’ With Vinod, you don’t need to explain things more than once. He sees two data points and can quickly extrapolate the next 12. Vinod has incredible vision and that’s initially what drew me to pursue a relationship.

The other key element I sought was longevity of commitment. When investors get the big vision they tend to have patience, which allows the company to take a long view without being distracted by what’s hot in the markets.

Big thorny problems

I wrote a piece for TechCrunch, which explains the difference between a board meeting and a strategy session. In these sessions with nothing but a whiteboard and a list of six key strategic topics, the executive team and I discuss, explore and debate with our biggest backer. These may be the best hours we spend all year. We talk about issues that the business actually turns on, the big thorny problems that keep us up at night. Should we open source a core piece of technology? What are the implications, risks and tradeoffs? What should our pricing strategy be, or how should we structure an enterprise sales team? Whether you should go broad and build for many verticals or go deep and serve a single vertical or try to do both. What does the sequencing and allocation of resources for one or both strategies look like?

It’s socratic

Vinod doesn’t just provide platonic truths. Things aren’t axiomatic. Much of the wisdom of the Valley is experiential. Once in a while, I’ve been haunted by a piece of advice Vinod has given me that I chose to not follow. He had hundreds more data points to support his inference, and he turned out to be right. With Vinod, it’s not about getting the answer; it’s about the framework for making a decision. It’s socratic.

A potential reality

Not many places can attract the caliber of the operating partners at KV. They get involved, roll up their sleeves and can help drive growth, development and maturity. Mike Kourey, who is on our board, helped us get visibility into what it’s like to operate a company at the next level of scale. He knows how to run an enterprise sales organization from his days as CFO and COO Polycom. Just a few minutes of sitting in our sales pipeline meeting, and he had fantastic advice. When people who’ve done it before come in and share knowledge, you begin to think, “oh we can do that, too”. Some of the ambition begins to feel less like a pipedream and more like a potential reality.

A bridge to the next level

Not many places can attract the caliber of the operating partners at KV.Going from founder to CEO is hard. The challenge is how do you get a young founder to be mentored by someone who’s done it before? A COO or executive chair is like a bridge that helps a founder grow into the next level of the business and provide support along that path. It’s a level of mentorship that a board cannot offer. It helps to have a peer or partner who can act as a sounding board to bounce ideas off of.

Over a year ago, Mike Kourey suggested I meet a colleague of his, Deb Rieman — a former math professor, marketer, and public company CEO – as he thought we would hit it off. What was scheduled as an initial 45-minute meeting turned into a two-hour discussion about everything from mathematics to the future of digital media. Deb and I are on the same resonate frequency and have an intellectual connection that persists to this day.

Deb joined Metamarkets as our executive chair, and what started as a three to four day commitment has evolved into seven days a week. It’s not unusual if she’s the first and last person I talk to on any given day. The benefit of having a shared worldview is that we don’t have to constantly check in with each other on every decision. We operate autonomously off the same set of values. There is dialogue and healthy debate, but we see the world through the same lens.