Recently, Local Corp. won a settlement on an infringement case in which Fry’s Electronics Inc. did not compensate Local Corp. for the technology and intellectual property on one of its patents.
“You sometimes have to stop your forward progress to deal with protecting your business from those players in the marketplace or eventually you could be out of business,” Thiel says.
Additionally, the company faces a lot of competition. The industry of advertising technology encompasses many fields, such as audience brokers, publishers and technology solutions.
“It’s a very competitive industry because it’s a constantly moving landscape. It is a very, very large industry,” Thiel says. “There’s a constant change and companies in the space have to keep up or fall by the wayside.”
Despite the constant external risks of copycats and plagiarizers and the always-present competition, Thiel still firmly believes in sharing Local Corp.’s ideas and patents, especially its business process patents, so long as they are compensated. In fact, he encourages the sharing.
“Patents don’t have to be secrets so much as it’s a way to protect something you invented. If other people want to emulate it, that’s great!” Thiel says.
Thiel explains that each company is at a particular stage in its life cycle, and that the company needs a certain leader at varying points along each stage.
In the early stages, a company must have someone who has a vision and is not going to budge. As it matures, the company should focus on its customers and meeting their current and future needs. As a company expands, its leader needs to understand potential, fatal risks.
Being a 15-year-old company, Local Corp. has moved to the last cycle. It continues to grow in size and stature, allowing Thiel to guide his team while handling the risks and threats that come its way.
“It’s really been a very rewarding experience to get everybody very focused and passionate about a common vision and achieving a common outcome. And we’ve been marching in that direction ever since,” Thiel says.
Group effort in innovation
Thiel carries his leadership style wherever he goes, but strongly believes that talent drives the company.
“If everybody believes in the vision and understands the vision and the mission, then leadership really comes down to resource management and not telling people what to do and how to do it,” Thiel says. “If you have to tell people what to do and how to do it, you have the wrong people on the bus.”
What makes Local Corp. stand out among the other companies Thiel has worked for is its people.
“If you look at Local, it’s a great team of people who are very passionate about our mission,” Thiel says.
“You can have the world’s best ideas, you can have all the money in the world. If you don’t have the right people, you’re not going to be successful,” Thiel says.
Ultimately, it is the team and talent that rises to the challenge and brings Local Corp. through the other side of its risks and competition.