“%#!$ it. We’re outta here.”
Really what choice did we have? I had joined the company that was then Cablevision back in 2012 to run its advanced advertising and data business. Having been an entrepreneur myself, I loved the idea of joining such a well-known organization with the goal to help turbo charge an incredibly innovative area of the business.
Today, we take for granted how the digital world and technology have enabled us to unleash the power of data to help companies make better business decisions and investments. But when I signed on board, that wasn’t the case – particularly for the cable industry, which had not yet been upended by the customer behaviors we see today.
But while the industry players were getting their data legs under them, Cablevision was running at full speed. We became the first company to implement addressable TV advertising in the No. 1 market in the country – New York – and had built a sophisticated data business around set-top box viewing information that proved to be immensely valuable to our programming partners and advertisers.
And with the business thriving, I turned my attention to the future. For any entrepreneurial endeavor to have a chance, there needs to be a strong vision – something that not only sets the course for the business, but one that excites employees, partners and customers.
We had built an incredible foundation for what is now today, in 2018, the emergence of an era of addressable video and digital advertising. With the right investments, Cablevision could cement itself, again, as an industry pioneer.
But that wasn’t in the cards. It was a good business and one that was supported, but not in the way my team and I needed.
After much deliberation, I just felt that I couldn’t do what was necessary inside a big company like this. I decided it was time to chart my own path, again.
The arrival of a suitor from across the Atlantic in Altice happened very fast. Who was this company and what did this mean for us? For the rest of the business? The devil you know… so they say.
From the very start, it was clear that Altice was unlike any company in our space and that I had ever come across. In my introductory meetings with top leaders, one thing was clear: they had a fearless attitude and big ambitions. As Altice’s deal to acquire Cablevision was set to close, Dexter, our CEO, and his leadership team asked me for a grand vision for the data business and a roadmap to make it a reality. They were enthusiastic, hungry and bold.
It’s rare in today’s corporate world to find big companies that truly are entrepreneurial. Having a “start-up mentality” is certainly en vogue. Everyone wants to be the Silicon Valley of the East, Midwest and so on, but how many companies actually innovate versus talking a big game?
Altice USA afforded my team and me the environment to create something new; something that not many people before they arrived dreamed was even possible for a regional cable company. Their approach to fostering this kind of culture includes:
• No appetite for fear; manage risk appropriately but trust the process and take bold chances.
• Designing a thin org structure that fuels quick decisions and easy collaboration on both big and small tasks.
• A dedication to simple yet impactful execution.
• Empowering people to be decisive and action-oriented, and rewarding them for their success.
The proof: Recently, Altice USA launched a4, our newly integrated advanced data and advertising solution. Over the past year, we have acquired multiple companies in our domain and have bundled capabilities to complement our long-standing services. Now we can help advertisers simplify and maximize their advertising spend by helping them reach verified audiences on every screen both inside and outside of the home, across the U.S. We are no longer limited by our footprint, or by a single screen.
This is innovation at work. This is the result of years of work by many dedicated teams and partners. This is the future.
And this is a reality now at a4.
–Paul Haddad, President, a4