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Makers of Tomorrow: Criteo CEO Megan Clarken

Entrepeneur 16 Jun 2020 05:00
Makers of Tomorrow: Criteo CEO Megan Clarken
Image credit: Criteo

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Advertising-tech company Criteo hopes to shift away from being known as a niche leader in ad retargeting and redefine itself as “the ad-tech company for the open internet.” Leading that charge is Megan Clarken, who was hired as the company’s chief executive in October 2019.

Clarken’s task isn’t an easy one — ad tech is struggling to keep up with the changing current of consumer attitudes toward data tracking and targeting, as well as the policy and throttling measures being taken in response by governments and browsers. And a global pandemic has made it even tougher. I caught up with her in hopes of learning more about these challenges, and what overcoming them will look like for both the brand and industry as a whole.

You’ve been tasked with transforming the Criteo business amid a global crisis. What would you tell other companies going through a similar experience?

It’s heartbreaking to see this pandemic affect the day-to-day lives of so many people and their loved ones across the world. Professionally, I often get the question, “Have you ever been through anything like this before?” And the truth is no; no one has. I’m stepping foot into unknown territory as so many other leaders are. It does remind me, though, of an earlier experience in my career when I was employee number four at a startup. Being one of the first employees, I was a part of the team that turned the lights on and raised money to grow the business. Suddenly, we hit the dotcom crash and had to let go all 160-plus employees, eventually turning all the lights out. It was one of the hardest experiences and toughest economic environments I’ve dealt with professionally, but it pales in comparison to the situation we are currently facing.

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