Michael Barrett, the former CRO of Yahoo and CEO of AdMeld, which was acquired by Google in 2011, has joined Millennial Media as its new CEO. Co-founder and CEO Paul Palmieri will depart and join venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates.
In the press release (see it), Michael Barrett said:
“I am honored and thrilled to join Millennial Media at such an exciting time at the company, and within the industry. The mobile market is on a steep growth trajectory and I look forward to building on the leadership position Paul and the team have created to bring Millennial to new heights. I have long admired the company’s ability to deliver superior monetization to its publishers and developer partners and powerful ad solutions to its brand and performance advertisers. This was simply an irresistible career opportunity for me to pursue.”
Barrett joins former Yahoo CMO Mollie Spilman, who is Millennial's EVP for global sales and operations.
Considering Barrett's programmatic skill set, will Millennial drive harder on a programmatic future?
Barrett told AdExchanger that it was too soon to discuss his strategy for Millennial Media, but he said programmatic buying will remain a “big focus” for the company.
“Buying programmatically is certainly a big interest with a lot of our advertisers, publishers and developing partners, and we’ll continue going down that path,” he said. “Millennial is also a leader in the direct-sales channel and we will continue developing our strength in that space as well.”
Barrett described his experience at Yahoo, where he served as CRO for six months, as “ancient history.” He left Yahoo in December 2012 and had been running a consulting and angel investments company, Ichabod Farm Ventures LLC, before taking on his new role at Millennial Media.
Barrett will be joining Yahoo alum Spilman. “We have a lot of things to accomplish and I’m thrilled to work with Michael again,” Spilman said. “The company has a lot of momentum on the advertiser side [and] the developer side, so we’re going to continue on that strategy. I can’t speak to just one item because there’s a whole plan behind it all.”
Why did the CEO position open up? Palmieri resigned because he wanted to return to working with companies in the early stages of development. The former Millennial CEO said he “had a passion for working with entrepreneurs.”
“Millennial has had a great entrepreneurial journey… and we could not have done better to attract someone as talented as Michael to take the company to the next level,” Palmieri said. He declined to discuss the type of businesses he will help develop, but pointed out that his expertise lies in the mobile space, particularly the app economy and the use of data in targeted advertising. Palmieri will remain an adviser at Millennial for at least a year.
Investors appeared to approve of Millennial’s change in leadership, with stocks trading positively at the time this article was written. In its research note Monday, investment firm Evercore described Barrett’s appointment and background in building a programmatic supply-side offering as “an overall positive for the company's future.”
Millennial Media has taken numerous steps recently to boost its offerings. Last year the company acquired competitor Jumptap and partnered with AppNexus on a mobile ad exchange, Millennial Media Exchange (MMX).
As the company continues to grow, fresh speculations about an acquisition are likely to follow. Analysts and tech pundits have already noted that it would make sense for Yahoo to acquire Millennial Media’s mobile ad network.