Movers and Shakers: ESI, SiriusXM, MediaCom, Tidal, Kapten, Hostelworld, and more

Tyrone Stewart

The mobile marketing industry is ever-changing, and that applies to the people as much as the technology. Movers & Shakers is our regular feature following the hottest hires in the industry, so you can keep track of who’s joined which company, and what they’re doing there.

(Clockwise from left to right) Blair Tapper, Steve Gladdis, Sébastien Oebel, Yale Varty, Lindsey Roberts, Ken Black, Amur S Lakshminarayanan, Adam Fisher

ESI turns to Tapper in North America
Blair Tapper has been hired as senior vice president of North America at ESI Media. She will be responsible for devising and driving commercial strategy in the North American market, building on ESI Media’s growth across The Independent and Evening Standard digital portfolio.

Reporting to chief digital revenue officer Andrew Morley, Tapper will be focused on further expansion of the existing programmatic business, as well as responsible for building revenues across branded content, creative solutions and events. She will build out the existing commercial team, currently based in New York, whilst evaluating potential future expansion into other US cities.

She brings 14 years of publishing industry experience to the role. Most recently, Tapper was vice president of brand partnerships on the East Coast at the Daily Mail, where she oversaw the East Coast direct sales team responsible for display, video, social, and programmatic revenue. She has also held roles at Meredith, XO Group, Condé Nast, and Bauer Media.

“I am hugely excited by the global ambitions of the Independent and Evening Standard teams,” said Tapper. “The time is now for such quality content and there is a major opportunity for these heritage brands in the US market and beyond.”

Karkos to lead marketing at SiriusXM
SiriusXM, the broadcasting company that owns Pandora, has appointed Denise Karkos as its chief marketing officer. Reporting to Jennifer Witz, president of sales, marketing and operations, she will be responsible for brand and digital marketing of both the SiriusXM and Pandora brands, helping support and drive the growth of SiriusXM subscribers and Pandora listeners.

Karkos joins SiriusXM from TD Ameritrade, where she was chief marketing officer overseeing brand, advertising, social media, content marketing, corporate communications, marketing analytics, tech and operations. Before her 13 years at TD Ameritrade and TD Bank, she held roles at Digitas and Hill Holiday.

“I'm excited to join these two great brands and help contribute to their continued success,” said Karkos. “The audio entertainment category has so much momentum, and even more potential. It's a privilege to join the leaders in this space.”

MediaCom hands promotions to Gladdis and De Burca
MediaCom has made a couple of changes to its EMEA and UK teams, upping Steve Gladdis to EMEA chief strategy officer (CSO) from his role as UK CSO and replacing him with Geoff de Burca.

Gladdis, who has been at MediaCom since 1994, spent three years as UK CSO. In his new position, he will focus on further developing the media agency’s planning capability and culture across its EMEA offices.

“I’m very proud of the work that we do at MediaCom to drive growth for our clients, and it’s been a privilege to work with the brilliant people who make up the UK agency – they’ve been a second family to me for more than a quarter of a century,” said Gladdis. “I will miss being a part of the UK business, but I’ve always found it stimulating and rewarding to spend time with colleagues from other markets, and I’m looking forward to working on our planning capability and culture with our teams throughout the EMEA region.”

De Burca has been MediaCom UK’s head of strategy since 2015, responsible for running the agency’s team of strategists as well as leading the Social Change Hub. Additionally, Geoff was responsible as Strategy Lead for some of the agency’s largest clients, including Cancer Research UK and Tesco.

“Taking up the position of UK CSO is an exciting new chapter in my MediaCom life,” added De Burca. “I’m proud to be leading such a brilliant, talented and genuinely lovely group of people, who continue to produce outstanding strategy work for clients day in and day out.”

Gervino and Wilson elevated at Tidal
Music streaming service Tidal has appointed Tony Gervino as executive vice president, editor-in-chief and Elliot Wilson as chief content officer.

Formerly vice president of culture and content, Gervino will oversee all editorial direction at Tidal, including leading a team of editors and programmers in multi-genre global playlist curation, as well as the digital magazine, Read. In addition, he will continue conceptualising and driving editorial direction across the platform, and all global editions of Tidal.

Wilson, who is the former editor-in-chief of XXL, will oversee the creation of new and existing original content. He is the host of several Tidal original content series and curator of some of its most popular playlists.

“We applaud the innovation and success both Tony and Elliott have brought to Tidal,” said Richard Sanders, CEO of Tidal. “Their vision and expertise has elevated the founding principles of the platform and truly enhanced the experience for every member and artist Tidal collaborates with.”

Kapten names Oebel as new boss
Sébastien Oebel has become CEO of European ride-hailing firm Kapten, replacing the app’s co-founder and former CEO Yan Hascoet.

Oebel started his career as a financial analyst at Meridiam. In 2007, he joined McKinsey & Company, where he remained for five years, rising to the position of engagement manager. He then joined Home24 as chief international officer, later becoming chief commercial officer, before working at Amazon as EU general manager from 2015 onwards.

“It is an honour to serve as Kapten’s CEO and build on Yan’s legacy to pursue the internationalisation and development of an innovative and successful venture,” said Oebel. “I am delighted to join a company that emphasises responsible and sustainable practices which is a key differentiating factor in the ride-hailing market.”

Varty to head up marketing at Hostelworld
Hostel-focused online booking platform Hostelworld has added Yale Varty to its executive leadership team, naming him as chief marketing officer. Reporting to CEO Gary Morrison, he will be focusing on achieving the company’s key growth objectives and supporting a fresh strategy to drive the brand forward in 2020 and beyond.

Varty joins from ASOS, where he led the marketing and organisation responsible for driving the brand, and customer acquisition. He began his career consulting with Accenture in Seattle before arriving at Expedia, where he held various positions within the marketing team.

“Hostelworld is a brand that shapes people’s lives and attitudes through travel, and the journey the company is embarking on is very exciting. When Gary reached out to me, I was inspired by his vision and what I could be part of, and I’m excited to play my part in driving our ambitious plans forward,” commented Varty.

“Hostels have truly evolved since I last shared a dorm room! The industry is transforming at a rapid pace thanks to the way technology and connectivity facilitates travel today, compared to when Hostelworld sold its first hostel bed online 20 years ago.

“I look forward to working with my team to help travellers experience the world and meet new people in a fun, memorable, and safe way.”

Duolingo adds Munson to its board
Gillian Munson has joined the board of directors at language-learning app Duolingo as an independent board member.

Munson brings more than 25 years of corporate experience in technology and finance. She was most recently the chief financial officer of XO Group (parent company of The Knot), which she and her team sold in late 2018. Prior to that, Munson worked as managing director of Allen & Company, vice president of business development at Symbol Technologies and executive director of equity research at Morgan Stanley. She is currently a partner at Union Square Ventures and serves as an independent director and audit chair at Phreesia.

“I view Duolingo as one of the most transformative companies in education, and am impressed with how far they have come in making high-quality education accessible worldwide,” Munson said. “I am delighted to join the board of Duolingo as its first independent member, and look forward to working with Luis and the amazing Duolingo team in pursuit of the company's goals.”

Hires and promotions made on both sides of Atlantic by Bidstack
Bidstack, an in-game advertising platform, has launched in the US, appointing Adam Fisher as US head of sales and selecting its vice president of publisher relations, John Koronaios, to head up supply.

Based in New York, Fisher will be responsible for growth of the US demand side. He has more than 15 years of experience, having held programmatic sales roles at Unity Technologies, Unlockd, YuMe (RhythmOne), and AddThis (Oracle). He joined Bidstack earlier this year to lead the growth of sales efforts in the US as the company’s first US-based demand side employee.

Koronaios will increase Bidstack’s inventory out of San Francisco. He boasts over two decades’ experience in business development, sales, and working in the wider media and entertainment industry. Since launching Sony PlayStation in Europe more than 20 years ago, he has worked at companies including Atari, Ubisoft, and Sony.

“With the US being the biggest gaming market in the world, with revenues reaching almost $37bn, and home to some of the biggest names in games publishing, launching here has been on our roadmap since day one,” said James Draper, CEO of Bidstack. “Adam and John bring a wealth of experience and proven track records in their respective fields. We’re thrilled to have such talent leading our supply and demand growth stateside.”

On the other side of the pond, Nina Mackie has been given the role of senior director of global agency partnerships and Charlotte Cook is now account director of games. Both join Bidstack’s London headquarters.

Mackie arrives on the back of a 22-year career in advertising, originally starting out in print, before moving into digital. Her knowledge spans from editorials in the Trinity Mirror to digital ad platforms across mobile, wi-fi, digital out-of-home, and programmatic.

Cook has spent time on both the publishing and distribution sides of gaming, having a hand in launching AAA titles including Grand Theft Auto, BioShock, and Borderlands, as well as PC favourites Total War and Football Manager. She was also part of the team that created the campaign for Mario and Sonic at the London 2012 Olympics.

“Charlotte and Nina have proven track records in their previous roles and are recognised experts in their fields of work,” said Draper. “The invaluable knowledge and understanding they share in both the gaming and advertising industries respectively shows the level of talent we attract.” 

Tata Comms chooses Lakshminarayanan as CEO
Amur S Lakshminarayanan has been appointed managing director and group chief executive officer – designate of Tata Communications. He will advise the interim management committee of Tata Communications before being named permanent MD & CEO, upon receipt of necessary regulatory approvals.

Lakshminarayanan brings with him over 35 years of experience in leadership roles across industries and regions around the world. Most recently at TCS, he successfully managed and developed scalable businesses. His roles in the company included president and CEO of TCS Japan, global head of telecom, media & information services, Hi-tech and utilities, and Head of TCS UK & Europe.

“I am truly excited to join another Tata company,” said Lakshminarayanan. “Tata Communications’ leadership in India, strong international presence with its talent base, technology capabilities and global network reach puts it in a strong position to help customers with their digital transformation. I look forward to working with our customers and partners to harness the next phase of growth.”

Black takes charge of creative at GMR
GMR Marketing, an experiential marketing agency, has announced Ken Black as its chief creative officer. He is charged with global creative direction for the agency and its roster of clients, and will lead its 80-plus person global creative team.

Black is the former vice president of digital design transformation and global Olympic creative director at Nike. He started divisions such as Nike Team Sports and Nike Advanced Concepts, transitioned Air Jordan into Brand Jordan, and led global creative for the Sydney and Rio Olympic Games.

He left Nike to build the Sparq Training. The startup was later acquired by Nike and ESPN, leading to his return to Nike to lead business and creative as a member of its executive creative leadership team.

“My goal has always been to use creativity, storytelling and design to make a difference and leave an impact on culture and society,” said Black. “GMR’s purpose to bring brands and humans together to create powerful memories is something I’m truly passionate about. It gives us a mandate to create in a way that changes the way people see and experience the world.

“I am excited for this new opportunity and challenge. My experience has taught me first-hand that making consumer-led decisions about design, innovation and technology is what makes brands and products stand out.

“I’m excited to work with our teams to conceptualize the future and create memories that are truly unforgettable.”

Visualsoft picks Roberts to manage digital ops
Lindsey Roberts has been promoted to the newly-created role of digital operations manager at Visualsoft, an eCommerce agency. Working closely with head of digital Gavin Lowther, she is tasked with identifying and implementing processes to improve department efficiencies and performance.

Roberts previously spend three years developing and shaping the email marketing team at Visualsoft. Before that, she lead a team of marketing consultants at an email service provider, working with brands including WWF, All Saints, Adidas, and Domino’s Pizza Group.

“I've thoroughly enjoyed leading Visualsoft’s email marketing department over the last three years and I am really excited to get stuck into this new challenge,” Roberts said. “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work across all online marketing channels, supporting both our clients and Visualsoft, too.”

Eddy to front channel partnerships at R2i
Digital marketing agency R2i has hired Mark Eddy as vice president of channel partnerships and strategic alliances. He will be responsible for developing, building and maintaining strong business relationships with channel partners across leadership, sales, marketing and technical delivery teams.

Before R2i, Eddy was partner sales manager at Adobe, leading the introduction of Adobe’s digital experience platform to brands around the world.

“After serving as R2i's Marketo partner manager, I saw how amazing the agency's team and culture were, not to mention the results R2i produced for its clients,” Eddy said. “I knew it was a company I wanted to be a part of and am thrilled they've brought me on board.”

Antstream adds Keenen and Beitchman to leadership
Former CNN duo Brandon Keenen and Greg Beitchman have joined retro-game streaming company Antstream Arcade as chief marketing officer and chief development officer respectively.

Keenen, who boasts 15 years of experience in marketing, was most recently senior digital commercial director at CNN. Meanwhile, Beitchman – who led CNN’s distribution revenues, business development, and the launch of its local platforms – will be responsible for building relationships with current and future IP partners, developing partnerships with telcos and OTT/IPTV provides, and building out Antstream’s content proposition.

“I am fired up to join the Antstream Arcade team and look forward to continue rolling our retro games platform out to the UK, Europe and North America,” said Keenen. “I truly believe this platform has incredible potential to continue the revival of retro and put smiles on the faces of gamers everywhere.”

Beitchman added: “I’ve always been a gamer – retro games were literally my first contact with digital content, so I am excited to be part of Antstream Arcade.

“As in the video business, streaming offers game IP owners the potential to reach new consumers, develop new revenue streams and gather data insights at a whole new level. I am convinced Antstream Arcade will offer IP owners the perfect solution to reinvigorate their IP with fans and navigate a dramatically changing environment.”

Thorsdottir to lead European business development at Tagger
Tagger Media, an influencer marketing solution platform, has opted for Ana Thorsdottir as its head of business development & partnerships, EMEA.

Reporting to managing director EMEA Hannah Monds, She will be responsible for driving existing and new partnerships with European brands and agencies, while assisting overall sales development in the area.

Thorsdottir was previously head of influencer marketing strategy at MediaCom, working with business science to determine the best ways to measure ROI for clients, as well as creating strategies for brands including Sky, Mars, The Coca Cola Company, Shell, and Bose.

Clarity selects Howell to direct creative
Katrina Howell has been named as creative director at integrated marketing agency Clarity. Reporting to creative partner and founder Jeremy Harvey, she will help to head up the creative team and work to support the evolution of Clarity’s brand and offering.

Howell joins from Bee Creative, where she was creative director for digital. In her 20 years of experience, she has held roles at Concept!AG, part of Ogilvy Interactive Network and Rmg:connect, part of JWT London, working with clients including BBC product portfolio, UKTV, Fox Networks, Nissan, HSBC, Shell, and Vodafone.

“I’m keen to explore branded user experiences that transcend the boundaries of physical, digital and service design,” said Howell. “I am also excited to work alongside Jeremy and the team to help create extraordinary client solutions which exceed expectations and raise the bar higher and hopefully bring something new to Clarity.”

Craggs gets M&A director gig at Onecom
Onecom, an independent business telecommunications provider, has hired Christian Craggs as it first director of mergers & acquisitions and strategy. Reporting directly to CEO Ben Dowd, he will join the executive management team and take the lead of shaping overall business strategy at the company, while leading all M&A transactions from sourcing through to post deal integration.

Craggs joins from Oakley Advisory, where he was managing director for four years, which included responsibility for the origination and execution of M&A, equity and debt fundraisings and IPOs. Prior to that, he held several senior roles at O2, including being responsible for B2B strategy and corporate development, and the sales operations of O2’s B2B business.

“We’re delighted to welcome Christian to Onecom, he’s highly respected in his field and brings with him a strong track record from Oakley Advisory where he was able to make a significant impact in relatively short order,” said Dowd.

“I’m confident that the proven expertise he brings to his new role will make him instrumental to Onecom at a hugely exciting point in our company’s history.”

Experience12 adds Carters as account manager
Holly Carters has joined pop culture marketing agency Experience12 as account manager, bolstering its client services team. Alongside her client servicing responsibilities, she will be supporting the agency’s recently promoted business director, George Bateman, with business development in new sectors and organic growth.

Carters arrives at Experience12 from MediaCom, where she was a senior event producer working on clients including Subway, Galaxy, Coca-Cola, Toyota, and Peugeot.

“Coming from such a large agency background, I am really excited to work within a different, more dynamic agency environment,” commented Carters. “Experience 12’s work and clients are seriously impressive and full of creativity. I am looking forward to be part of such a rapidly growing team.”