Olympics, NFL Lessons Guide Integrate’s Bloom in First Year as CEO
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how marketers bought display advertising 20 years ago,” he said. Many marketers still rely on Excel spreadsheets and have to personally manage campaigns by finding ad agencies and placing insertion orders.
It’s a huge opportunity for the company that provides the right technological solution, but the playing field is rapidly changing.
“Nobody has fully figured out where the collision between adtech and marketing tech is going, and how it’s going to play out. There are plenty of theories, but you’re guessing a little bit. That keeps it fun and interesting,” he said.
Integrate will try to win by automating the more tedious parts of that process, such as generating, standardizing, and cleaning up leads. But the company’s larger play is giving marketers tools that create better profiles of their customers, incorporate information from third-party sources and offline data providers, create and manage campaigns, and better understand a campaign’s return on investment.
The new money will allow Integrate to focus on growth and scaling up in 2015, Bloom said. Integrate looks set to double its customer base in the first quarter of next year, and it plans to open an office in the United Kingdom. It also is looking to add senior tech, sales, and services hires.
As for 2014, Bloom says it was on the whole a good year for Integrate despite some challenges. Bloom moved from president to CEO after his co-founder Hart Cunningham left the company. Bloom wouldn’t discuss the reason for the departure, other than saying “it was time for us to part ways.”
Integrate made other changes to its team, bringing in executives and board members who have sold startups to companies like Oracle and Adobe. But the company also has had to cut back, downsizing to 90 people today after having 120 on its staff in 2013.
Despite that, the company was able to grow its customer base by 50 percent and revenue from business-to-business customers by 400 percent, Bloom said. The company now has more than 250 customers and says it works with thousands of media partners that customers use to create campaigns. (Bloom declined to give more details about Integrate’s revenues, but said the company isn’t “burning a tremendous amount of capital.”)
“2014 was a year of maturing as an organization and really focusing in on our go-to-market strategy and what product-market fit is the best for us, which right now is in the B2B space,” Bloom said. “I wouldn’t say we’ve changed our products or our strategy, but we’ve made a lot of upgrades, and filled a lot of holes and gaps.”
One of his goals in his first year running Integrate was to create a more transparent company. That’s one lesson he took from the NFL—with the Eagles, Bloom felt players never really knew where they stood, while the Steelers were upfront about everything. That might have carried over to the field—the Eagles had fallen from their early 2000s peak, while the Steelers would win the Super Bowl in 2008, the season they cut Bloom in training camp.
Bloom said he wanted to emulate the latter team, sharing with employees the good news, bad news, and even the company’s quarterly presentation to the board.
“Everybody at the company knows where we stand, and they know where they stand,” he said.
Another lesson Bloom learned is about surviving in a brutally competitive environment where unexpected events happen all the time. He said new competitors are entering the demand generation market, and it’s a very fluid industry.
“It’s like in the NFL, where new rookies are always trying to take your job. In this landscape, you have companies that have exceptional leaders getting funding on a monthly or quarterly basis coming in and attempting to find a niche.”
There’s also a painful lesson that comes from near misses and setbacks.
Despite dominating his freestyle moguls the season before the 2006 Olympics, one disappointing run kept him out of the medals. In the NFL, Bloom was fast but small, and he never saw the playing field because of injuries. His promising college football career was cut short because the NCAA would not let him play after he had to raise money from sponsors to support his skiing career.
It created a lot of “noise,” but that was just part of the “sink-or-swim” life of a top athlete, he said.