Veering Off Topic With Adelphic Co-founder Jennifer Lum

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JL: I think it depends on the company. I think ultimately, though, as long as advertising companies continue to provide transparency into how data is being used and they are also able to help consumers understand the value exchange and the utility of the services that that advertising is subsidizing for the consumer content or product or services, there should continue to be a very active marketplace and value exchange.

X: Where are you most productive?

JL: When I’m out of the office, I can be quite productive at home. And I can be quite productive on flights, on train rides, and anyplace where I’m either unable to get online or don’t have a reason to be talking or interacting with other people.

It’s amazing how productive I’ve been on flights, where there’s no connectivity, you’re stuck in your chair for hours, and just crank out a ton of work.

X: What’s your biggest pet peeve?

JL: Idle time. I hate being bored, and I hate not having things to do.

X: How many hours do you sleep every night?

JL: Probably seven hours on average.

X: That’s higher than I expected, actually.

JL: It’s improved a lot. I’m sure with the ramp-up of the new company that will trend downwards.

X: What fictional gadget or technology do you wish were real today?

JL: Time travel machine.

X: Where and when would you visit first?

JL: China before the invention of electricity. Being Chinese, but not born in Asia, I’m always trying to learn more about my heritage and my roots. I think that’d be a very interesting way to take a firsthand look at the cultural history in China. [Editor’s note: Lum was born and raised in Toronto, but her father was born in Hong Kong and her mother was born in China.]

X: What’s an interesting job you had before getting into tech?

JL: I had a really amazing job when I was a teenager. I played a lot of tennis when I was younger. And the big professional tennis tournament in Canada was the Canadian Open. And so I got all excited because I decided one year I was going to try out to be one of the ball people at the Canadian Open, you know, the people who stand on the court and they’re just throwing balls to each other so they can eventually hand them to the players while they’re playing a match. So, I got all geared up to go try out to be one of these ball people, and through the course of the tryouts, I got pulled aside and I got offered a different type of job.

For some reason, you had to be female to do this job. The job was not a ball person, it was called court supervisor. And what you needed to do for this job was while the players were playing, the job was to sit on the tennis court beside the umpire and essentially just watch, and then while the players were taking a break, the job was to go stand beside one of the two tennis players, and if they wanted a drink, to go get them a bottle of water.

It was the best job! I got to sit on the court to watch amazing tennis players play, and to stand beside them and bring them a bottle of water. That was a cool job.

X: Why did it apparently have to be a woman?

JL: I don’t know.

X: Did you take offense to that?

JL: I was not mad about it. [Laughs.] I gladly took the job. I mean, sitting on the court rather than running around nonstop for days at a time, I was pretty pleased.

X: Did you get to meet any famous tennis players?

JL: Yeah. This was back when [Andre] Agassi and [Steffi] Graf and [Monica] Seles and Michael Chang, [and] Jennifer Capriati were playing. It was awesome. Jim Courier.

X: You’re stranded on a desert island. Your iPhone battery just died. Now what?

JL: Probably [have] a mild panic attack. [Laughs.] Probably take a few minutes to try to compose myself. And then … Is this a tropical island?

X: Yeah.

JL: And then go for a swim and try to enjoy the island.

X: I like that. Get over the panic, and then enjoy yourself. You can start that big bonfire on the shore later.

JL: Right, start talking to a volleyball.

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