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29TH January 2013

Leadership - Mobile - Mojiva - Timely - Uncategorized - Vision

Against the Wind; An improbable story in Mobile Ad-Tech


Krish, Miles, Dan (overdressed this time)

Krish, Miles, Dan (who is in a rare moment of overdressed) in 2008

This past month marked the fifth year of working together with my two co-founders at Mojiva: Dan and Krish. If I were a DJ spinning vinyl to sum up those days, I would drop the needle with Bob Seger’s Against the Wind. With a few edits…

It seems like yesterday
But it was long ago
[Mobile] was lovely, she was the queen of our nights
There in the darkness with the radio playing low
And the secrets that we shared
The mountains that we moved
Caught like a wildfire out of control
Till there was nothing left to burn and nothing left to prove

Call it founder bias, nostalgic, or just plain sappy but it is amazing what’s has actually gone down in sixty short months. No one has been in mobile very long- old timers can claim ten years, most likely five is when the early scouts hit the beach. Apple was just about to launch the iPhone and end the carrier’s dominance of the “deck”. Premium publishers that took down minimum guarantees were not getting repeat business. Android didn’t exist. There were no apps, and no tablets either. No one knew the difference between online ad-tech and mobile, and how soon they might converge. Wow, that world was simple! It’s now Flintstones vs. Jetsons!

First thing we did, of course, was to name the damn thing. It may sound like a whim, but we actually worked hard to craft a name that had meaning- at least to us three. MoJiva was a mash up of jivan, which is a Hindi god (we favored the elephant Ganesh) and Mo for mobile of course. The good thing about crazy names is they are always available at register.com. And everyone has remembered us since.

We gave Krish $300k and 3 months to build the mOcean platform (he’s had a bit more budget lately!). In light of what developed, that amount just seems ridiculous. But that’s how it went down, and build it he did. We served 3M ads a day by month 3, and we felt like we were on fire. Three months later, we raised Series A from a strategic VC and hired a rock star CEO. Dan got going on Biz dev, and we went on a run. I can’t even begin to list the milestones along the way: often it seemed like we were on a runaway train, fixing the front wheels even as we were shoveling coal, painting the cabins and losing luggage out the caboose. Such is the world of start ups and technology. It takes a strong stomach and a keen eye for the rewards at the end.

And I remember what she said to me
How she swore that it never would end
I remember how she held me oh so tight
Wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then

Against the wind
We were runnin’ against the wind
We were young and strong, we were runnin’ against the wind

Amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t know any better. Everything we did was against the odds, let alone the wind. And now its five years on and we just completed another monster milestone year. We are now part of one of the best teams in Mobile ad-tech, over 100 strong. We’ve booked 100% growth for four straight years, and we now serve over 1,000,000,000 ads a day. Yes, that’s a billion ads a day. I had to write that out. In the December rush, we were serving 35,000 ads per second in virtually every country in the world.

But what makes me most proud is the team that we have built and what THEY have accomplished, sometimes by adding people, sometimes by subtracting. From day one, folks walk into our office and universally say Wow! This place is cool- I’d love to work here. Yeah, it’s packed now and someone needs to do the dishes. But we have a wonderful HR effort that backs it up with training, 401k, healthy Mojiva, Core values we live by, peer awards, leave bonuses, flex time, A Player recruiting… and a very open environment where every suggestion to make it better is heard (ok, not all are actionable), and we truly believe in the value of their equity, cause we all own it.

It’s flattering and humbling to consider this came from our DNA, and that vision we cobbled together 5 years ago is still going strong today. There’s more to the song of course, and there’s more to the story to be told. But I want to stop here and tip my hat to my two co-founders and say wow: we helped build that!

Nice job guys!

 

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