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Div Turakhia hands over the reins of Media.net to Vaibhav Arya

Turakhia steps aside at ad tech company he founded.

Vaibhav Arya has been named CEO of Media.net.

Div Turakhia, the billionaire co-founder of Directi and founder of ad tech company Media.net, is stepping down from the CEO role at Media.net. The company announced today that current CTO Vaibhav Arya has been promoted to CEO.

Turakhia founded the digital advertising company with knowledge and partnerships gained in the domain parking business. He turned this into an ad tech powerhouse that grossed $232 million in 2015. Shuzhi (formerly known as Miteno) bought the business for $900 million in 2016. (You can hear about Div’s journey and Media.net on DNW Podcast #139.)

After the acquisition, Turakhia stayed on in the CEO role while grooming his senior management team for a planned transition. Now, one of the people who has been with Media.net from the beginning is stepping up as CEO.

Arya has worked with Turakhia for a decade. While Arya has technically been the CTO, I know from my time working with Arya and Div at Media.net that Arya has a strong business acumen.

Turakhia has been appointed Strategic Advisor to the Shuzhi board.

Update: I have received a copy of the email Turakhia sent to the 1,300 employees of Media.net today. It is below.

Friends and colleagues:

Today, I find myself overwhelmed with emotion. I am — excited, grateful, euphoric, inspired, proud, humbled, tearful, and other things that I do not know how to put into words — all at the same time!

My duties as CEO of Media.net will be assumed by my friend, trusted advisor, and your long-time CTO, Vaibhav Arya (being officially announced in a few hours). This transition has been in the works for years. Arya and I have worked closely together since 2008. First, when he joined us to be the CTO for Skenzo, and then at Media.net where Arya has been our CTO from day zero. Arya equally represents continuity, AND the necessary tech capabilities and world-class leadership required to continue the next phase of growth.

Further, the ENTIRE core team at Media.net across all our offices worldwide have already committed to continuing with Arya, and are going to be dedicated to expanding the overall business.

I am excited to see where all of you take Media.net from here! I will be cheering you on!

Online Advertising is a massive industry. At the same time, it is very confusing and fragmented with hundreds, if not thousands, of vendors. There is an incredible amount of inefficiency in the industry. Our goal should continue to be to help simplify it for all the stakeholders and to help optimize. Publishers need to make more and more money, with lesser ads. You can only do this by making the ads much better — that way the users like them because they are relevant & better, the advertiser prefers the better targeted and engaged users and are willing to pay premium rates for them, and publishers like the additional revenue.

Our industry has helped the world become a better place. The Internet and the world would be very different without online advertising in its current form. Imagine if only the rich could afford to search on a search engine, or consume high-quality content, or stay connected with all their friends no matter where they are, or a million other things that everyone does online without having to pay for each use. All of us simply take this for granted. Empowering publishers and app owners with the monetization tools that allow users to consume content and navigate the universe of knowledge for free – without having to pay “tolls” makes the user experience far better and easier.  Creating revenue for publishers and app owners by efficiently connecting advertisers and relevant users, significantly improves the investments that these publishers can make. Hence, what you do makes a BIG difference in the world.

That said, if you don’t do it, someone else will — as it also is a $300 billion per year industry with double digit growth 🙂

It has been about eight years since I founded Media.net as a bootstrapped startup. As you know, about two years ago we sold it to Shuzhi (formerly known as Miteno) in a transaction valued at $900 million, one of the largest ad tech exits ever. We have continued to grow consistently since the sale. We are one of the top 5 largest online advertising businesses worldwide by market cap. We have recently crossed 1300 employees worldwide vs 800 in 2016. Our last financial quarter (Q3 2018) has been our highest revenue quarter ever, and we are projecting this financial year to be our highest revenue year ever i.e. another record-setting double-digit growth year.

Yes, you have seen great success and have had an incredible journey thus far. But, your historic performance should not mean that you slow down in any way. In our industry, only the most innovative companies will thrive. The rest will disappear. To stay relevant, you must continue to build revolutionary products and not get comfortable. We are always in version 1.0 for everything. Everything that we see around — is, can, and will be — a lot more efficient in another 5-10-20-50-100 years. Hence, never believe everything is already done – ’cause nothing is ever done.

One of our biggest market advantages has been that good software isn’t written in months. Building a large scalable platform such as ours takes years of investment and hundreds of employees. Many companies will have the money to invest and can recruit great talent, but they will still need to spend years to create what YOU have today. That is our BIGGEST moat! Keep building on it and do not let it shrink in size.

When there is volatility and turmoil (and there always will be time and time again), DON’T get greedy and try to manage for a specific financial quarter or year. Our margins have always been normalized, even where we could have dialed this up. Normalized and transparent margins make it extremely hard for any competitor to cut you on price. Always run the business for the long term.

Another Media.net differentiator is the scale and diversity of our ad tech portfolio and products: search, display, mobile, native, local, products and video. Keep adding to this carefully. Focus is important.

As I start to think about the future, I am very happy with everything that I have done and I believe that there is never any use for regrets. I learn from missed opportunities where a lot of value could have been unlocked. Everyone has opportunities that they considered and, perhaps, did not pursue, and then saw others implement successfully. If I had not FOCUSED on what I was doing, then I would have never become successful. Each time you are thinking about adding something, you need to calculate the opportunity cost.

Lastly, we really need to start leveraging the deep relationships and know-how that we have in China. China continues to be the #2 largest online advertising market and we have all the components required for making China a significant source of revenue & partnerships.

This letter is getting to be longer than I expected 🙂

Many of you have been my friends, my family, my home for a material part of my working life — many of you at Media.net, in some cases starting even prior to that at Skenzo, and, in some instances, starting even prior to that at Directi. You have been with me through my biggest triumphs and also through my most challenging periods. Thank you for this amazing adventure that we have all shared and thank you for the incredible support and confidence that you have shown in me through all these years. I am forever grateful.

We have had a LOT of FUN! We failed a LOT! But we never gave up! We kept learning from each experience and called each failure an experiment. We failed each day until the one day that we learned that we were successful. More importantly, we had a LOT of fun no matter what. We should never forget that.

Evolution has made humans the ultimate learning machines. All we need is a healthy dash of curiosity and the realization that each one of us can do absolutely anything if we are willing to put in the effort and are willing to constantly learn and evolve. There are no shortcuts. Everyone stumbles and falls. Enjoy the lessons from the interim failures, and you will always come out a winner.

Now, as for me, until the end of this year I am still fully hands-on with Media.net — as much as always, to help with the continued transition and, subsequently, I will be available for the long-term to Arya and the Shuzhi team in my capacity as their strategic advisor. If any of you need me for just about anything, I will always be just a phone call away and always happy to help.

It has been more than two decades (I was 14) since I started working out of a shared bedroom in my parent’s 800 sq ft apartment on the outskirts of Juhu in Mumbai, India. I have spent all my life building businesses. Starting Jan 1, 2019, I will be forcing myself to take a break to play catch-up on the rest of my life (hopefully the break lasts for at least 1-2 years). We have one life (at least that we know of), I am hoping to experience more and see if there are other things that I could be equally passionate about. If you know me, then you know that I cannot have no work, and hence will be taking on the role of running my various global investment portfolios — something that I am excited about but have not been able to give the required time to thus far. Also, in time, I hope that I can give back to this world that has given so much to me.

I am always happy, but also always hungry. My passion for always wanting to do more is lifelong. So yes, there will always be more to come 🙂 …  Stay tuned! And I look forward to celebrating our continued successes!

– Div

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