Podcast: Kerry Bianchi On The Shift From Service To Software

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Our guest this week is Kerry Bianchi, president and CEO of Visto, formerly Collective. Bianchi has overseen a major transition of the company since taking the helm from founder Joe Apprendi one year ago.

That transition includes a sale of the legacy managed services business. In January, Zeta Interactive, a marketing cloud company, acquired that business, unencumbering Visto as it pursues a new market position as a buy-side systems integrator and marketing hub.

When Bianchi was named Collective CEO in February 2017, the managed service business made up about 80% of revenue, but the pendulum was swinging toward the new software-as-a-service (SaaS) Visto product.

That media business, which was profitable at the time of the sale to Zeta, acted “as an incubator” to fund engineering and development for Visto, Bianchi tells AdExchanger.

The Collective managed service group was also Visto’s biggest client, and that relationship remains in place even as the team moves to Zeta. At the same time that Zeta took on the Collective services business, including about 30 employees, the cloud company also led an investment round for Visto and signed a multiyear licensing deal for the SaaS tech.

The terms of the sale and of Zeta’s investment in Visto were not disclosed.

Some in the mar tech and programmatic ecosystem recoil at the word “pivot,” Bianchi said, but that shouldn’t dissuade an executive from making strategic changes if he or she thinks it’s the necessary move.

Visto’s bet is that evolving marketer priorities will necessitate a role for a systems integrator that sits atop a brand’s or agency's tech stack. There may be fewer DSPs now, but marketers still prefer to work with more than one, and high-growth channels like programmatic TV will sustain that.

After more than a decade where the Collective pitch was built around exclusive inventory deals and the value of its media services, “the sales case is very different,” Bianchi said, as the company now trades on agnosticism.

“The conversation is no longer about what inventory you have or publisher relationships you have,” she said.

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