Many companies have strong alumni networks. The most famous of which is the PayPal Mafia which includes Peter Thiel, Reid Hoffman, Elon Musk, David Sacks, Jeremy Stoppelman, Luke Nosek, Keith Rabois, Reid Hoffman, Max Levchin, Roelof Botha, and many others. It is a truly astonishing alumni network.
The best predictor of having a strong alumni network is a company that: (1) had a successful outcome but not crazy successful (like a Facebook or a Google); (2) the company went through a bunch of trying times (and almost went out of business); and (3) the employees built a company that was super enduring and even prospered post-exit.
PayPal fits all three of these criteria. It had a strong exit (but not Google-like escape velocity), it almost went out of business multiple times (highly recommend reading PayPal Wars by Eric Jackson), and it continues today as an independent company (NASDAQ:PYPL) that was spun out of eBay (its original acquirer in 2002).
I often get asked why the LiveRamp alumni have been so successful. While the exit was only 20% of PayPal, it had many of the exact same characteristics. (1) The exit was good; (2) the company almost went out of business multiple times (and like PayPal, we had to pivot hard from “Rapleaf” to “LiveRamp”); and (3) we built a company so enduring that it ended up being the crown jewel of the acquirer and now is an independent public company (trades at NYSE:RAMP).
At the time of announcing our exit (in May 2014), LiveRamp was around 50 people. It is amazing how many of those original LiveRampers are now doing super interesting things.
So without further ado, I list the notable LiveRamp alumni and what they are doing at time of writing (Jan 2019) … please let me know if I missed anyone.
- Caitlin MacDonald Bartley – CEO at Cred
- Ryan Buckley – CEO at MightySignal
- Eric Chernoff – CEO and cofounder at Retain.ai
- Phil Davis – Chief Business Officer at TowerData
- Ken Dreifach – Member, ZwillGen
- Bryan Duxbury – Chief Technologist at StreamSets.
- Dayo Esho – CEO and cofounder of TravelJoy. Dayo was a cofounder of LiveRamp.
- Greg Fodor – fmr CTO and cofounder at AltspaceVR
- Auren Hoffman (that’s me) – CEO of SafeGraph. Previously CEO and cofounder of LiveRamp.
- Thomas Kielbus – cofounder at RideOS
- Chris Kline – cofounder at CTO at TravelJoy
- Ron Johnson – Vice President Sales Analytics at Workday
- Anders Jones – CEO at Facet Wealth
- Jeremy Lizt – on the beach taking a much needed break. Jeremy was cofounder of LiveRamp and ran engineering from founding (2006) until Jan 2018.
- Nathan Marz – founder of Apache Storm
- Travis May – CEO and cofounder of Datavant. (Travis succeeded me in running LiveRamp in 2015)
- Luke McGuinness – President & COO at TVision Insights
- Patrick McKenna – Founder, HighRidge Venture Partners
- Bryan Morris – CFO at Kinetica
- Brent Perez – President and cofounder at SafeGraph
- Mike Safai – Founding Partner at Dexterity Capital
- Armaan Sarkar – CTO at Wove
- Dan Scudder – CEO at Highland Math. Dan is the person responsible for coming up with the “LiveRamp” name.
- Pete Schlaefer – VP Business Operations at AppLovin
- Justin Schuster – Head of Marketing at Blend
- Manish Shah – CEO of Peerwell. Manish was cofounder of LiveRamp.
- Mohammad Shahangian – Head of Data Science at Pinterest
- Vlad Shulman – cofounder and CTO of Retain.ai
- Eddie Siegel – CEO and cofounder at Wove
- Dan Stevens – cofounder at VP Data at Windfall Data.
- Vivek Sodera – Co-Founder at Superhuman. Vivek was cofounder at LiveRamp.
- Nikhil Sud – CTO at CoWrks
- Chris Taylor – CRO at Wove
- Michel Tricot – cofounder at RideOS
- Alex Wasserman – cofounder at Wove
- Takashi Yonebayashi – CTO at SafeGraph
In addition, many of the best people at LiveRamp are STILL at LiveRamp. That includes:
- James Arra – President and Chief Commercial Officer at LiveRamp
- Sean Carr – VP of Engineering at LiveRamp
- Anneka Gupta- President and Head of Products and Platforms at LiveRamp
- Joel Jewitt – VP of Strategic Operations at LiveRamp
- Allison Metcalfe – General Manager of LiveRamp TV at LiveRamp
- Rebecca Stone – Head of Marketing at LiveRamp
- and many many others at the company
Summation: while LiveRamp was a company chock-full of talent. Its alumni success was due to being a company that: (1) had a successful outcome but not crazy successful (like a Facebook or a Google); (2) the company went through a bunch of trying times (and almost went out of business); and (3) the employees built a company that was super enduring and even prospered post-exit.