5 Questions with LUMA Partner’s Brian Andersen

This is the first of a series of blogs from Eastwick’s Ad Tech practice. Every month we will be profiling advertising and digital media influencers to get an unfiltered glimpse or their professional and personal lives. If there is someone you’d like to see us profile, please email suzanne@eastwick.com.

1. Who do you think is the most influential person in ad tech? Why?
That is a very difficult question. I meet with hundreds of start-ups as well as with the major public buyers every year. There are many start-up CEOs that are incredibly bright that I learn from every time we meet. However, I feel the “most influential” can’t be one of the start-ups — it has to be someone that is part of the company that all those start-ups are gunning for or striving to be. That company would be Google, and therefore, the most influential person is Neal Mohan. I know David Jakubowski at Facebook is gunning for him, but Neal still holds this honor!

2. What do you think will be the biggest trend in the next 5 years?
Mass personalization. Every marketer strives to deliver a coordinated, consistent experience to their target audience wherever they may be. All the elements are now here: data management, real-time bidding, predictive analytics, etc. that enable marketers to deliver dynamic, personalized messages across websites, emails, ads, push notifications, etc. It is just a matter of pulling this all together, both organizationally within marketing departments to coordinate and plan the marketing activities, as well as technically by integrating the software offerings.

3. Do you anticipate more M&A or IPOs? In 1 sentence, explain why.
Absolutely. Two thousand five hundred companies across 10 LUMAscapes in the growing and dynamic digital media / digital marketing sectors will result in dozens that will reach the public markets and hundreds that will be acquired by the over 150 public buyers looking for innovation and growth!

4. What is one thing people may not know about you?
I am a huge advocate for youth team sports. I played baseball through high school and football through college. And now with my kids I coached soccer for a few years and Little League for nine seasons. Next season will be my youngest son’s last year of Little League, so I will need to figure out how to stay involved after that!

5. How did you get started? How did you end up where you are today?
Well, it wasn’t a direct path. When I got out of business school I worked in the M&A group at Robertson Stephens at the height of the internet bubble — and hated it. Working for a traditional investment bank was not for me. Luckily for me when the bubble burst and Robbie imploded with it, I moved to the corporate side, working for 10 years within software companies — and loved it. This included Phoenix Technologies, Interwoven (acquired by Autonomy) and Omniture, where I lead corporate development.

After Omniture was acquired by Adobe I stayed on for 9–10 months focusing on strategy, but had decided it was time to move on when I randomly ran into Terry Kawaja (Founder & CEO of LUMA Partners). In our conversation, we each disclosed that we were resigning from our respective companies and that Terry was forming LUMA Partners. Terry was forming LUMA to differentiate through two main principles: 1) having deeper market knowledge than any other advisor, and 2) taking a strategic approach to the market by helping the acquirers with their M&A strategy and target selection — and representing the target in the resulting transaction. The goal was to put together deals where post-transaction the buyer is pleased because the target performs well (which is the buyers #1 priority) and the seller is thrilled because they achieved an exit at premium valuations since they were identified as a strategic target.

This approach really appealed to me since it combined what I liked best (meeting with innovative start-ups and developing M&A strategies) and surprisingly no advisors were taking this approach. So while I hadn’t been planning on being a “banker” ever again and joining LUMA was a risk, I believed in Terry, the business model and myself — and it has worked out!

Brian Andersen is a Partner at LUMA Partners, a strategic advisory firm focused at the intersection of media and technology. He can be reached via @LUMA_partners.