The first step Fred Thiel took when he became CEO at Local Corp. was to take down the wall dividing the suite he inherited from the rest of the office.
With his door almost always open, the congenial environment it creates helps the Local Corp. team excel and stay ahead in the competitive, ever-changing industry of advertising technology.
Local Corp. is a leading local advertising technology company, connecting consumers with businesses. The public company delivers relevant and personalized experiences to consumers based on what they are looking for, such as plumbing services or cars.
On the other end of the business are the advertisers. Local Corp. provides advertisers and publishers ways to monetize and reach audiences through its software programs.
“We happen to be one of the leaders when it comes to local search and exposing that audience to advertisers,” says Thiel.
Early on, Thiel preferred to be his own boss. At just 10 years old, he started a grass mowing business with a friend. Before graduating from high school in London, Thiel wrote software programs for banks.
Just as he does not like to be ordered around, Thiel does not subject his employees to that treatment.
“I’m not the type of leader who is going to tell people what to do and how to do it, unless I have to,” says Thiel.
Being CEO is not a new experience for Thiel. Before Local Corp., he served as CEO of GameSpy Industries, leading the company from losses to almost double its revenue in less than a year. While chairman and CEO for Lantronix, Thiel doubled the company’s revenue growth in four years, which included four acquisitions and public and secondary offerings of more than $120 million.
Thiel met Local Corp.’s founder, chairman and CEO Heath Clarke through the Young Presidents’ Organization, a worldwide network of young and budding chief executives.
So when Local Corp. faced some challenges and needed a new board member, Thiel raised his hand. He quickly joined the board in January 2013, became the chairman of the board in January 2014 and CEO in May 2014, after Clarke stepped down.
Thiel spoke about the challenges of growth and the role a strong team plays in your success.
Confronting your risks
In any given month, Local Corp. creates billions of advertising impressions, holding approximately 10 percent of the U.S. Internet population who search for products and services offered by the company’s clients.
“We touch a lot of people, and that gives us a lot of insight into what people are looking for, what they want to buy, where they want to buy it,” Thiel says.
They are leading the charge in giving consumers the ability to interact with pertinent advertising in unusual places, like refrigerators and shop windows.
“Consumers can interact with devices in ways we have only begun to imagine,” Thiel says in a video on the company’s YouTube channel.
But with growth comes challenges. From cybercrimes to other companies posting fraudulent impressions for advertisers, Local Corp. faces external challenges on a daily basis.
“We’d all like to believe that we live in a world where everybody’s ideals are morally correct and above board and focused on doing what’s best for the industry,” Thiel says. “There is always a group of people who are trying to take advantage of the industry.”