Magnite Makes Major Executive Changes; CTO Tom Kershaw To Depart

J. Allen Dove, CTO, Magnite

Magnite is shaking up its leadership team following the late April approval of its $1.17 billion acquisition of SpotX.

On Wednesday, Magnite announced that Tom Kershaw, the company’s chief technology officer (CTO) for the past four years, will leave Magnite to pursue an opportunity outside of ad tech. Kershaw will also step down as chair of the Prebid board at the end of June. Prebid plans to elect a new chair at its upcoming board meeting next week.

There are no details as to where Kershaw, who’s been an opinionated and refreshingly vocal fixture on the ad tech scene, will land.

J. Allen Dove, SpotX’s chief technology officer, will now serve as CTO of Magnite. Dove was CTO of SpotX for more than 14 years. In a statement, Magnite CEO Michael Barrett explicitly called out Dove’s long-time experience with CTV advertising, which is becoming Magnite’s core focus.

Rounding out the executive changes, Adam Soroca, who currently serves as head of the global buyer team, will move into a newly created chief product officer role, while Sean Buckley, formerly COO of SpotX, has been named CRO for CTV. Joe Prusz, Magnite’s current CRO, will now serve as CRO for Magnite’s online video and display business.

Former Magnite CTO Tom KershawMagnite first announced its intention to acquire video supply-side platform SpotX from European entertainment network RTL Group in early February.

The rationale behind the deal is to create a scaled independent programmatic CTV and video ad platform. Together, Magnite and SpotX rep inventory for most of the leading device makers, broadcasters and programmers, including Samsung, ViacomCBS, Roku, Disney, Discovery and (guess who) WarnerMedia.

As Barrett told AdExchanger after the SpotX acquisition news broke, with SpotX on board, 67% of Magnite’s revenue will be video with close to 40% of that from connected TV. “That’s the kind of scale the marketplace is asking for,” he said at the time.

A laser focus on CTV is also a big part of what’s motivating the current chess moves in Magnite’s C-suite. Merging the Magnite and SpotX executive teams will help the combined company innovate and serve clients more effectively, Barrett noted in a statement.

“I have never felt better about our people or our prospects as a business across all formats, including CTV, which represents a significant and increasing portion of our revenue,” Barrett said.

He has reason to feel good.

Although Magnite got caught up in the post-Q1 selloff of tech stocks earlier this year and its stock price still hasn’t recovered its all-time high from February, The Motley Fool points out that the company’s stock is still up by 333% over the past year. Magnite’s CTV sales in Q1 were up by 32% to $12 million, representing fast growth, albeit from a modest base.

But if you’re a CTV bull, all you see is a long runway of opportunity, particularly as consumer behavior changes and digital captures more previously out-of-reach linear TV budgets.

“Whenever there’s a marketplace need, far be it from ad tech not to rush to it,” Barrett told AdExchanger in February. “For the first time ever since the start of programmatic, those [linear] ad dollars are up for grabs.”

Story updated to reflect Kershaw’s departure from Prebid.

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