Verve Wireless, the mobile advertising platform targeting local media, has appointed a former AOL executive as its new CEO. Tom MacIsaac, who most recently was CEO of ExtendMedia before it was acquired by Cisco Systems last fall, is now at the helm.
MacIsaac replaces co-founder Art Howe, who will continue as chairman of the board.
MacIsaac already has done a lot of building and selling of companies. He previously served as CEO of Lightningcast, which was acquired by AOL in 2006. After that, he worked as senior vice president of strategy for AOL’s ad business, Advertising.com.
Before Lightningcast, he was founder and CEO of Backwire, an online and mobile messaging company that was acquired by Leap Wireless International back in 2001.
Of all his ventures, MacIsaac says he believes Verve has the biggest potential. Lightningcast was a pioneer in online video ads, but it was too early for the times back in 1999. “This is equally big,” but the market timing is much better for Verve, he says.
MacIsaac says he’s not at Verve to get it ready for sale. Rather, the company is in growth mode and may do some acquisitions of its own. “We have a lot of work to do,” he says.
The objectives over the next two years include increasing Verve’s technological capabilities in the advertising arena, enhancing its video platform and providing additional tools to publishers so they can run their own mobile ad businesses.
All the excitement around Groupon and mobile advertising is good for Verve. The new CEO says Verve is at the center of two hot areas – mobile advertising and local advertising, the latter of which has attracted a lot of attention with Groupon’s well-publicized decision to decline Google’s $6 billion buyout offer and possibly go for an IPO this spring or summer.
As for where Verve sits amid all of the other ad models, he says if you compare it to traditional media, where Yelp and ReachLocal might be considered akin to the Yellow Pages, what Verve does it more like the display advertisements that run in the local newspapers – and businesses rely on both to get the word out.
Verve has more than 1,000 local publishers, as well as relationships with advertisers big and small. There are larger, general-purpose mobile ad networks, but nobody with the size or footprint that Verve has built for the local, mobile ad market, he says. In that sense, Verve is pretty much alone in its category.
Verve currently employs 29 but expects to grow the team by 50 percent this year.
MacIsaac will be based in the company’s new Washington, D.C., area office. Most of the company resides in San Diego, and the company plans to continue hiring in both places. Last fall, Verve announced a $7 million Series B financing led by BlueRun Ventures.