“I told the Jana sales team that they are truly part of something unique, especially in today's ad tech climate, and this should not be taken for granted. I can't wait to look both ways before crossing the street, knowing once again I’m beyond lucky to have this opportunity. Now let’s go make the internet free for the next billion!”
— Email to Jana’s Management Team, March 2016
Just over four months ago, after spending the previous four years in the mobile ad tech industry at Fiksu, I decided to accept the job of leading the revenue organization at Jana.
As the headline notes, I’m now 134 days into my journey. And since arbitrary endpoints are fun, now seems like a good time to look back on my decision to become a #janamal, while also discussing a few items I’ve learned along the way. If you’re contemplating a new career opportunity, maybe there’s a nugget or two in here for your consideration.
Hey Christian, why Jana?
So let's start with the “Why Jana” question, since I’ve been asked it a countless number of times, starting as far back as the interview process. Even now, months after accepting the position as Vice President of Sales, it continues to pop up in conversations with friends and family, colleagues and clients, as I move through the process of reintroducing myself to the industry as a Jana employee. For me, it’s also been one of the more enjoyable conversations to have. The answer is simple, I was driven by the three M’s: Mission, Market, and Money (not what you’re thinking.)
In “Good to Great,” business guru Jim Collins states, “It is impossible to have a great life unless it is a meaningful life. And it is very difficult to have a meaningful life without meaningful work.” Many years into my career, I finally followed Mr. Collins’s advice, actively seeking a mission statement that not only inspired me, but also every other member of my future organization.
For those not familiar, Jana’s mission is to make the internet free for the next billion. Big, bold, and impactful—exactly the type of statement needed to provide inspiration during the inevitable daily variance of startup life.
From the newest intern, to multi-year veterans, it’s refreshing to stroll through Jana’s amazing workspace at 101 Arch St. and know that every single employee is prepared to walk the talk.
A recent Economist article states, “EVERY second three more Indians experience the internet for the first time. By 2030 more than 1 billion of them will be online.” Indonesia will have the 4th largest smartphone market by 2018. Global consumption in the emerging markets will grow at a rate of 2x that of developed markets by 2025. And while I just spent 135 words attempting to convey the importance of a meaningful mission statement, without a market to deploy, the mission will inevitably fail. Go big or go home!
As a poker player and startup junkie, it’s clear I not only have a high tolerance for risk, I’m also comfortable being uncomfortable with big bets on the line. Make no mistake about it, this is as big a bet as you’ll find in the tech world, one that has the potential to unlock access to 2.5 billion smartphones by 2020. So if you’ll excuse my lame poker vernacular, I’m all-in.
This past February, when many ad tech companies were reducing headcount, struggling to raise money, or fending off public market scrutiny, Jana was fortunate enough to announce a significant funding round led by new investor Verizon Ventures and participation from existing investors Spark Capital and Publicis Groupe. Jana also announced that Tim Armstrong, CEO of AOL, agreed to serve on the company’s advisory board. There are reasons obvious to all why being well capitalized doesn’t suck. When that money comes from an organization taking on Google and Facebook in the battle for advertising dollars, it becomes even more exciting knowing who’s got your back.
Not that I needed a fourth driver, but as someone who is consumed by the thought of food 24/7, the Jana Guac-off competition was not an awful experience. Now let’s go make the internet free for the next billion!