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> Talking Heads with Roy de Souza
Talking Heads with Roy de Souza
September 1, 2008
Roy de Souza is the CEO and
co founder of Zedo, the third largest global Internet
ad-serving firm and a pioneer in social network
advertising. A visionary, Roy founded Zedo in
Silicon Valley during the peak of the Internet
boom in 1999 and long after the bust, he not only
survived to tell the tale but thrived.
Prior to Zedo, he was in product management at
an Internet city guide company that became part
of Alta Vista. He also consulted for Coba Group,
a strategy-consulting firm in the UK. There, he
gained experience in marketing strategies, consumer
goods marketing and advertising, with companies
like Avon, Hewlett Packard, and Schwab. He also
evaluated potential venture capital investments.
Having started his career in the advanced technology
division of Ove Arup & Partners Consulting
Engineers, Roy has also worked for Rover Group
Cars and Imperial Chemical Industries.Roy received
his MBA from the Kellogg School at Northwestern
University, where he served as vice-president,
technology. Roy received his Masters in Engineering
and Economics from St. Anne's College, University
Roy divides his time between San Francisco and
Mumbai. His newly acquired interest is also in
restoring a 250 year-old house that he and his
wife have recently bought.
What, according to you, is the future
of online ads in India. Could they ever be as
a threat to other mediums?
Online advertising will be huge in India. Indians
are young with 50 per cent of the 1.1 billion
people below the age of 25. Even by 2012, 50 per
cent of people will be under 28 years old. Young
people use the Internet a lot. So advertisers
will have to spend a lot of their money online
to reach to these people. This is not a threat
to other media, all forms of media will grow fast,
but online will grow the fastest.
What is the business mode of Zedo?
Zedo is an leading ad server for publishers and
social media sites. Our feature set is specialized
for the needs of publishers with growing inventory,
a growing user base, and an urgent need for more
efficient inventory management. Our publisher
plan offers three valuable solutions for publishers
- best ad serving features for social media; optimization
across ad networks; and higher total revenue from
high CPM re-targeting ads.
On the other hand, advertisers have found re-targeting
to be the effective form of Internet advertising
after search engine optimization. They love it
and they need as many impressions as they get.
As the third largest ad server worldwide, we serve
tens of billions of ad impressions every month
reaching tens of billions of users.
Social networking sites – the good,
the bad and the ugly?
The good thing is that social networks are here
to stay. The Internet will be dominated by social
networks or something very similar forever. The
reason is simple, humans are social Homo sapiens.
They want to talk to their friends and family.
The bad one is that whatever bad things happen
in the real world, will also happen on social
networks. This is because both good and bad people
use them. So parents will now have to teach their
children to be careful of people they don't know
on social networks. Children need to be taught,
and they learn fast, how to differentiate a real
friend from someone wanting to be friend you for
the wrong reasons.
The ugly part being some people or groups of
friends have warped ideas. They believe in suicide
pacts or attacks on people based on their race
or religion. They are good at getting more people
to join their groups. We need to stop the ugliness
whether it is on social networks or elsewhere.
How did you survive the Internet bust
when many had to shut shop?
We survived because we focused on the big picture
and believed in our vision. We knew that the Internet
would be huge. We knew that the Internet like
other information media would be supported by
advertising. So, with this belief we always found
ways and means to survive and prosper even while
dot coms were falling and most of the world was
laughing at the whole dot com industry.
I don't think that there will be another huge
Internet bust though a few web sites will go out
of business in the next year or two as is natural
with so many being started.
How do you balance out your personal life considering
you divide your time between San Francisco and
I ensure that my friends and family know where
I am so that we can easily organise things in
advance when we are in the same country. In some
ways this discipline means I see the friends that
I really want to see more often. One of the best
ways to keep in touch of course is the Status
Updates on Facebook.
Your daily stress buster?
I tend to read a lot. I read lots of newspapers
and the Economist. I often read books too as it
takes me to another world. I just finished reading
an old book: Charles Dickens' Little Dorrit. It
explains human nature and what happens when a
really poor family becomes rich.