After leading the West Coast production services rich media team at Google for three years (a role that stemmed from his previous rich media role at DoubleClick), Christopher Johnson now heads up technical operations at SpotXchange where he has to “wear many hats and have my hands in most projects as we still have that startup mentality.” Built In Colorado chatted with Chris to get insight into his current projects:
What are you currently working on at SpotXchange?
Currently what is taking most of my time is the development of our SSP platform which includes our holistic yield management, programmatic infrastruture and support of deal. Deal ID has been a primary focus of mine by getting our programmatic buyers to integrate this to the deal id spec. Deal ID is a programmatic method to identify a deal between a buyer (DSP, trading desk, advertiser, ect) and a publisher. This has been very exciting as we were the very first video advertising platform to launch and execute a successful deal ID in this space. Now our integrated buyers can directly talk to our platform partners and make deals using the SpotXchange "pipes.” This is a very new way to buy online video advertising which is cool and exciting to be a part of a company that helps shape the whole industry
What projects are you excited to work on in 2014?
There is so much to look forward to in 2014, especially in this industry. I think mobile and connected TV will be a huge part of our focus for 2014. It seems smartphones are everywhere and app developers are looking for better ways to monetize their inventory; I believe video advertising will be a huge part of this, and is also a new channel for advertisers to reach users.
How would you assess the Colorado startup community?
I find the Colorado startup community to be blooming. Boulder seems to be a magnet for tech startups these days. That area is starting to look like a little Silicon Valley. It’s cool to see companies like BackFlip Studios that built some of the very first apps that any of us had on our smartphones. I still remember playing Paper Toss: then finding out that was made in our backyard was pretty awesome!
What should the community be doing more of going into 2014?
I think we need more industry/startup events. I know we have the Boulder/Denver Startup Weeks, but the turnouts are not always big or maybe the press is just not there. I have been to the New Tech Meetup group a couple of times, which is always great to see new startups emerging. A couple people here at SpotXchange started an ad tech meetup group, which has been great for our industry: there are always non-pitchy presentations of what we do in the space and how our companies do it as well.
What is the biggest lesson you took away from Google and brought to SpotXchange?
I know the biggest lesson I learned after leaving Google was lunch is not always free! But the biggest lesson I learned at Google was what they always state to the world: you can make money without being evil. They tried to teach that with everything they did. I have carried that mentality with me to the companies I have been with: some didn’t have the same focus, some did. This is one of the great parts about working at SpotXchange: we believe in complete transparency with our clients and truly believe in being the “The Trusted Platform for Video Advertising.”
At SpotXchange what are your biggest struggles - and rewards?
I think the biggest struggle I have had is hiring good candidates. It is hard to find people with technical backgrounds, but that also can be customer facing and have advertising industry experience. Ad tech is blooming in Colorado, but most of it is still on the coasts in San Francisco and NYC.
Being here at SpotXchange has been very rewarding and there have been so many great things. It’s nice that a company from Westminster, CO was named #40 on the Deloitte Fast 500 list. Being a part of a company that helps shape the industry in a whole is very rewarding. The decisions and ideas we come up with here at SpotXchange are not only good for our business but for the industry as well. It is also rewarding that we try and hire the best local talent we can. SpotXchange has an aggressive plan to hire 50 engineers over the next year - and we’re actively recruiting technical women as well. SpotXchange is a NCWIT Pacesetter alongside Google, in fact we were one of the first startups to be named a Pacesetter by NCWIT.
I have been a part of many great things while working here such as sitting on working groups with the IAB for OpenRTB has been a really cool. Working with some of the smartest minds in this industry is mind-opening.