My name is certainly new to this forum and this audience and for good reason, I have spent my career primarily as a financial guy.
From 1979 until 1988, I was a partner at Ernst & Young. Then, from 1988 until 2001 I served in various executive roles at Time Warner Inc. including CFO and Chairman and CEO of Time Warner Digital. From2001 until 2006, I was CFO of Viacom Inc and since 2006, I have served as MD of Thomas H Lee Partners, L.P. In this role, I sit on the boards of Nielsen, ClearChannel, Univision and Warner Music. I am also on the board of Gartner Inc. Nowhere on the list of my 'previous endeavors' sits a company that has anything but 'massive balance sheet' and 'billion dollars in revenue' on its Financial statements. Until now.
In February of this year, whilst a guest of my good friend Michael Kassan at the AAAA conference in SF, I was introduced to the CEO of AdGenesis LLC by another good friend Gerry Byrne. A dinner later and enthusiasm that Ted Turner would be proud of, I became intrigued with AdGenesis and the business model which CEO and co-founder Richard Smullen so clearly articulated and supported with astounding facts pertaining to the state of the global ad market place. A huge, $200B+ global market.
Could Richard and his co-founding partner, Laurent Alhadeff, be right that the answer to effective advertising and strong ROI for advertisers is something as simple as a partnership with consumers? Could they be right that focusing on and paying attention to an ad or branded video vignette has the same brand recall effect as five or six exposures to a normal video impression? Could their platform, which was live in Beezag.com, really deliver 10% click through rates and brand lift never seen before by brands? In true 'risk averse', Global CFO caliber, ' I get approached to invest in startups every day, I was skeptical and didn't give it much more thought. Until the next morning that is.
Could Richard be right? That, it's that simple: Find out what consumers want and need and then deliver the video message to them in real time on their mobile or laptop and, reward them with something from the brand. Could this be one of the ways advertisers could use all this new technology to their advantage? For five months, Richard and I stayed in contact and I did my homework and research. Everything checked out. These guys were onto something and, I couldn't miss out. If they're right and I can help fast track their business plan through my contacts and relationships, this could one of the platforms that bridges the $60B gap that exists between ads on TV and video ads on the internet. And, in doing so, becomes the game changer. The next Google.
With my wife Lisa, President of NBC Strategies Initiatives, and one of the founding group members of Oxygen, we challenged the idea and claims. Start-ups came across my desk every day. Not once did we make a move. Not once did we believe there was an investment worth taking a reputational and financial risk on. Not once did we think we'll 'kick ourselves'...And, neither are we going to. I am very proud to enter this exciting advertising world as investor and Board member of AdGenesis LLC. The startup that you will all soon hear so much about and from. Who would ever have thought that advertising should be consumer centric and not, content centric.
Richard J. Bressler is a Managing Director at Thomas H. Lee Partners (THL). He can be reached at email@example.com.
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