Friends of AdRoll—

We founded AdRoll ten years ago with a mission to help all businesses grow. Today, I pinch myself, having a hard time believing how far we’ve come. With 500 employees and over 35,000 customers, AdRoll has become the most widely-used independent performance advertising platform.

We’ve got big plans in store for 2018, which will prove to be a transformational year. With this ambition in mind, I’m excited to announce some changes we’re putting in place at the executive level. Starting today, AdRoll’s President Toby Gabriner will take the helm as our CEO and I’ll be stepping from CEO into a new role as our Chief Product Officer. While big news, I’ve been laying the groundwork for this plan for awhile, and I’m sincerely excited to make it happen now that the time is right. I see it as a progression of a remarkable partnership Toby and I have forged since he joined our company a year ago. And it’s an opportunity for the two of us to more fully play to our respective strengths.

Aaron Bell, Toby Gabriner

Pictured: Toby Gabriner (CEO), Rollie (Rollie), Aaron Bell (CPO)

I want to emphasize that I’m not going anywhere. As CPO, I am rolling up my sleeves for a meaty new role that I am truly passionate about and that feels like a natural fit. In this role, I’ll be returning to my AdRoll roots, and unifying our product, engineering (now 150 strong!), UX, and supply teams. While it’s true I’ll be spending considerably more time with the R&D side of our org, I expect to have the same company-wide visibility as ever and will continue to play a leading role in stewarding AdRoll’s special culture.

Meanwhile, Toby is the right leader to usher in the new era for our company as a whole. He has the full confidence of the board, the execs, and me. Toby and I are in lock-step and he has been instrumental in shaping a bold vision of our company’s future to realize our potential. In terms of CEO transitions, I expect this to be as smooth as they come. From when we first recruited Toby as an A-team advisor, I could see that our working styles would be complementary—and this yin-yang balance has exceeded my expectations over the year we’ve worked side by side.

Perhaps most important, from day one Toby has naturally clicked with our culture; it’s the foremost thing he sought when looking for a new company. I never would have contemplated this change if I didn’t feel Toby would be someone who would honor our core values and push forward key initiatives like D&I, helping each other grow, and radical transparency. I also love that Toby brings fresh, infectious energy to each interaction and a healthy urgency into every project where he’s involved.

Toby has awesome experience in our world. Toby was President of one of the first large digital agencies (Carat Interactive), CEO of the first DSP ([x+1]), President of one of the leading ad networks (Tribal), and CEO of one of the most successful video ads platform (Adap.tv/AOL). These great experiences lend to the trust we have in Toby to lead us in our vibrant, competitive ecosystem.

Lastly, On a Personal Note

This is my tenth year at AdRoll and my eighth year as CEO. To draw a too lofty parallel, I moved from CTO to CEO in January 2009, the same month that Obama was inaugurated as US President. It’s well-known how visibly Obama aged over his eight-year term:

Here’s how I’ve aged over my eight-year term:

Aaron Bell

Yikes! Don’t let your kids grow up to be CEOs. In all seriousness, while I think being a CEO is truly the most rewarding job, it’s also a role that requires a sustained, sometimes grueling, focus and balance. The blessing of the role for me has been the learning curve. I entered the job with only a coding background, a modicum of managing experience, and a healthy fear of speaking in front of groups. I am transitioning from the role a different person, with a toolbelt of new skills, and more than anything, an overwhelming gratitude for everybody (customers, employees, investors, partners and advisors) who has contributed to AdRoll along the way. So many others have given a big chunk of themselves to shape this amazing company. I love this company and its people, which is why I’m still fully committed to its journey.

In the words of a kindred CEO reflecting on the luck of his journey, “if [AdRoll] was Battletoads, it would be like I made it all the way to the Terra Tubes without dying on my first ever play through.” And I’m truly most excited about the high-octane stage that lies ahead.

Onward and upward, and good luck Toby!

Aaron
Founder, (now) CPO