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The Fast-Paced World of Digital Advertising, Cycling and More with Stephen Collins, CFO of Quantcast

We recently announced Stephen Collins as Quantcast’s new Chief Financial Officer, a great asset to our growing senior leadership team. With a background as former CEO, CFO of e-commerce SaaS provider Bazaarvoice and CFO, CIO of DoubleClick, Collins has deep financial leadership experience. Recognizing this unique opportunity to learn from an industry veteran, we took a moment to sit down with Collins and learn more about his life and beliefs around digital advertising.

You’ve worked in a variety of digital industries throughout your career. What draws you to big data and digital advertising specifically?

The advertising business is a lot of fun, first of all! The people in digital advertising are really excited about what they do and being around so many passionate professionals is gratifying. Add to the mix that success demands creativity and innovation — not just data and technology — and it’s hard not to be interested in this industry.

One aspect about I find the most fascinating is how technological innovation is changing our lives — and the world — for the better, whether it’s a Tesla or smart glass technology or, yes, advertising. The digital advertising industry in highly competitive and thus highly innovative. Ad technology is some of the most sophisticated and massively scaled software ever created. Even after 20 or so years, we’re still in the early innings of the digital advertising revolution. The dramatic rate of adoption of smart-phones is changing the landscape radically yet again. E-commerce is just now getting to 10% of global retail sales. Where is it going? Will it get to 50%? Who knows, but surely e-commerce has decades of growth ahead.

These are exciting times as technology continues to change our world, and for the better I believe. An entirely new Internet is emerging with a vast and very different set of data, especially as the Internet of Things begins to evolve. Imagine a world with fewer, more relevant ads. Imagine ads that don’t feel like ads at all. The digital advertising industry offers a front row seat to technology driven change and an opportunity to participate at the vanguard. Did I say digital advertising was a fun and exciting industry?

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?


Well, first of all I have three teenage daughters and keeping up with them is number one. We also have a beloved French Bulldog, Max, who is always by my side. Otherwise, I’m a category 2 competitive cyclist, but my “fast” days I think are behind me. Still, cycling is a great sport and provides a tremendous challenge to maintain a competitive level of fitness. I enjoy contributing to the sport by supporting junior cycling and am a proud partner with the USA Cycling Development Foundation. I also, along with my wife, enjoy cooking for our friends, wine and travel.

What was the most recent book you read?

On the business side, Peter Thiel’s Zero to One and on the personal side Joe Friel’s Fast After 50. I guess you know how old I am now!

Are there certain people or specific quotes that have inspired you throughout your career?

I’m inspired by many people I’ve had the honor of working with over the years. Top of mind for someone I especially respect and admire is the co-founder of DoubleClick, Kevin O’Connor. He was a true pioneer and innovator, and the more I reflect on my time working with him, the more I appreciate how amazing he was as a leader. He led by example and ensured that our team had a fantastic culture and esprit de corps well before I ever heard people talk about the importance of culture. Also, while it may sound a bit like a cliche, my father — who has been in the technology industry since the 1960’s — set a great example for ethical leadership and I’ve certainly learned quite a bit from him.

What do most people not know about you?

I don’t really know how to answer that question, honestly! So the big secrets are that I don’t like coconut and I can’t whistle.

What is your definition of success?

For me, well earned success offers freedom of choice. It’s really a privilege to be able to work with inspiring people and in an industry that is lots of fun. Success offers the ability to be selective in this regard.

Success is also a shared notion. It’s about seeing how what you do creates value, whether that is helping a team member achieve their goals or delivering results for your customer. Ultimately, true success should be achieved through impacting others positively both professionally and personally.

Sometimes we enjoy career success but may not always live up to the highest ideal of achieving success with others. I think that shared success on a team is what’s most gratifying and represents true success. Doing it “right” is something we can all strive towards. I certainly know that I have much to learn and many ways I can improve before I can say I’m truly successful in this regard. Doing so is especially important when you’re fortunate enough to be entrusted with a leadership role.


Posted by Capri LaRocca, marketing communications associate.