Kinetic has suffered by association with its previous parent company, Epic Media Group, which ran afoul of federal regulators last year; the FTC targeted EMG for engaging in "history sniffing" of user browsers. When Kinetic emerged from the ashes of that company with many of the same employees, eyebrows were naturally raised (including by this publication).
It eventually emerged that the privacy violations were tied to Connexus, a company that acquired EMG. Mathis stepped out of the leadership role post-merger but was later brought in to fix things when the privacy ugliness came to light. "I was asked to stick around because I had restructuring and turnaround experience," he says.
As acting CEO at EMG, he began to incubate Kinetic while simultaneously disentangling the parent company from its privacy issue, a process that eventually led to a settlement with the FTC. Mathis offers no excuses for the history-sniffing activity and only regrets not having acted faster when it came to light.
"We live in a time where it’s important for the voices on the privacy side to be heard. The industry has a natural tendency towards defensiveness around privacy matters, and I think that’s wrong-headed. We would all do better as an industry to ensure no sense of mistrust for the consumer and an ability to interoperate with ecommerce and advertising sites without being creepy or invasive."