Xaxis Hires Millennial Media Vet Bob Hammond As Its First CTO

BobHammondXaxisXaxis is getting its ad tech house in order with the creation of a new role: chief technology officer.

Filling those shoes at the WPP programmatic trading desk is Bob Hammond, whose career spans some of the most recent greatest hits in ad tech M&A.

Hammond, whose appointment was announced on Tuesday, served as CTO of mobile exchange Millennial Media following its 2013 acquisition of Jumptap, where he was also CTO. After Verizon-owned AOL bought Millennial Media in October, Hammond took on the role of VP of engineering for mobile ad platforms at AOL Platforms.

(In 2008 and 2009, Hammond spent a little time as VP of engineering at Yahoo. If Verizon snaps up Yahoo, which seems like the most likely scenario at this point, the snake will officially have eaten its tail on a large portion of Hammond’s LinkedIn.)

“In many ways, the – let’s call it ‘core’ – demand- and supply-side players are pretty much done,” Hammond said, designating the space as “almost completely commoditized by now.”

What’s interesting will be how those companies evolve to meet the needs of agencies, which are looking for cross-channel capabilities within a single framework.

That’s also part of the vision at Xaxis, and it’s a big reason why Hammond was brought on board: to corral its stack, a mixture of acquisitions (including ActionX in 2015, which underpins Light Reaction, Xaxis’s mobile performance marketing platform) and homegrown tech (like its data management platform Turbine).

“We’re focusing on overall architecture and infrastructure, integrating the architecture from the various companies we acquired with Xaxis’s own architecture,” said Hammond, who will lead a team of 102 people across engineering and technical ops.

AdExchanger caught up with Hammond after a month into his new gig.

AdExchanger: Why did Xaxis bring you on board now?

BOB HAMMOND: I’ve stepped into a number of preexisting organizations as CTO, so what I’ve become good at over the years is working with engineers and product organizations to mature them and help them grow.

The goal is to move into a self-managed engineering organization, where we can take cues from business and product and then hand off to ops to deploy.

What does it mean for Xaxis to hire an experienced mobile guy as CTO?

I don’t really view myself as the “mobile guy.” When we went through the interview process, we didn’t talk a lot about mobile. I do have a lot of experience on the mobile side with demand, DMPs, data and supply, which I’ll use, of course, but that isn’t why they brought me in.

It’s more about my ability to walk into an organization while doing what I call “keeping my arms down.” I don’t thrash around. I build relationships and nudge the battleship, so it turns slowly without whipping the organization around. Xaxis has excellent tech and cool people. My job is to unify those folks to a single cause.

How complex will the integration process be?

It’s complex. Right now, I’m thinking really hard about how to reduce the overlap in our architecture and to reduce data duplication around data export.

For example, a lot of the technologies and services deployed across ActionX and plista [Xaxis’s native content distribution platform] are redundant. Consolidating those into a single set of services is a big focus for me, but not in a monolithic structure. We’re looking to create a structured architecture so that independent products and services can access Turbine data in a real-time nature and consume it without needing to export it.

What exactly are you looking to build out at Xaxis?

Turbine is a big focus. It’s a programmatic media and audience platform, and it does a remarkably good job ingesting data, producing segmentation and retargeting models, to turn folks into sets of targeted segments in the advertising world based on what we do, what we consume and how we use the Internet.

But I think there is a huge variety of things Turbine can do beyond that around mobile, local and hyper-local – being able to decipher and use store locality and tiling information to target folks based on location. There is also beacon technology to think about, which gets you right inside the store. Something we’re going to look at is how to do all of those sorts of things inside Turbine.

How will you interface with GroupM Connect?

What I’ve been doing over the last three and a half weeks is looking inside my own organization, getting to know the engineers and our road map and understanding the tech stack. I haven’t dug into any of the Connect stuff yet, but this week, I’m going to start spreading outside of Xaxis proper into GroupM, and that’s what I’ll be looking at for the next six months or so.

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1 Comment

  1. Aden Forshaw - CTO Coull

    Bob is an excellent hire, prolific & talented. With the other senior hires like bob walczak, Xaxis is really getting serious about mobile. Hiring someone like Hammond should definitely be read that way.