The Princeton Offense

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When I walked onto the Princeton campus as a freshman in 1995, I liked basketball. It was fun, good exercise, and social.

When I left Princeton, I loved basketball: the constant decisions, the intricate teamwork, the ebb and flow of the game.

The difference was three years under the tutelage of John Thompson III, then the JV coach at Princeton, learning the Princeton offense. No longer was I the big guy who was supposed to sit near the basket and rebound. I would get the ball at the top of the key and create opportunities for my teammates. I knew how to throw a back door pass, to force defenders to make impossible choices, to be a triple threat. I was part of an organism that operated on a shared set of simple principles. We were talented athletes who worked together to win. I wish I could share the feeling of throwing a backdoor pass through a crowded lane to a teammate who knows exactly where to be to score an impossible basket.

That feeling is what I try to create every day at AppNexus. We have a clear mission: to create a better Internet through better advertising. We have agreed upon four values –learn and teach, see and improve the whole system, empower customers, and make greatness happen together – which are our shared set of simple principles. We are a team of talented professionals who work together to win.

Today, I’m thrilled to announce that Jon Hsu is joining our team as COO and CFO. Jon is one of the few people with CFO experience at a public ad technology company, but more importantly is one of the best executives in our industry. I worked closely with him when he was the CEO of 24/7 Media and was impressed by his thoughtful leadership, strategic vision, and passion for the future of the industry. In business as in basketball, how you play the game matters, and Jon plays like an AppNexian.

In addition to Jon, we’ve added three world-class executives to our leadership team. It feels like we’re recreating the 1992 Olympic Dream Team, with the best talent in New York joining an already superior leadership team. Geir Magnusson, Jr. will become CTO; Casey Birtwell has been hired as SVP, Strategy & Operations; and Michelle Dvorkin has been promoted to SVP, People.

Over the past few years, my understanding of what it takes to be an entrepreneurial leader has changed, much as my understanding of basketball changed during my time at Princeton. To build a global company that can adapt and win in an ever-changing landscape requires a leadership team that is both talented and aligned.

With the addition of Jon and Casey and the promotions of Michelle and Geir, AppNexus has the team to win the greatest game of all: building a company that makes the Internet better.

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