Sramana: Was Cardinal Path one of the client companies of Abundant Venture Partners?
Andrew Swinand: I left Starcom in April, and at the same time there were three companies that were starting to come together. These were DKI, WebShare, and Public Insight. Eric’s brother was involved with Public Insight, and he let us know about it. Given my experience and background, we asked if we could help give them feedback and thoughts as the three companies came together.
Sramana: Was it essentially a private roll-up?
Andrew Swinand: Yes, that is correct. We ended up putting in some money, and when I looked at the offering, my experience building and scaling agencies, and their experience with web analytics, we felt that we could do great things by working together. Part of our philosophy with Abundant Venture Partners is to roll up our sleeves and help out with portfolio companies. I agreed to take a CEO roll with Cardinal Path to help them grow and expand, and I have been involved with them ever since.
Sramana: Would you give me some context of the companies that came together? What were their revenue levels and core competencies?
Andrew Swinand: The three companies were all in the million-dollar range. The thing that was interesting was the area of digital analytics. It is an incredibly fragmented area. There are a lot of brilliant individuals who are one-person shows. All three companies were leaders in digital analytics, and all three had relationships with Google. The three leaders of the companies basically went to events, met with Google, and saw that it was the same three people in the room every time. None of them was growing his business. They realized they were brilliant at analytics but they lacked the experience to grow and scale their business.
They realized that by partnering, they would each bring their unique skills and abilities to a single entity. By partnering with us and allowing me to come in as CEO, they would have the chance to expand and grow faster. Knowing what you are good at and having the confidence and maturity to ask for help is key.
Sramana: Not all management teams have the capacity to scale. You need to know what you are good at and what your capacity is. What you are describing is a complex merger and integration. There were three competing groups, each of which had products. What became the integration principle?
Andrew Swinand: It has been the easiest integration I have ever done. The reason is that as a group everyone involved is analytical. Typically there is a lot of emotion involved in integration. In this case, we had rational evaluation. Everybody would see what worked best for each situation and supported the best solution. That allowed us to have a pretty quick line to good decision making.
Sramana: Web analytics is a large and crowded field. What area do you work in, and what problem are you solving?
Andrew Swinand: Cardinal Path is focused on the infrastructure to support the collection of data. Cardinal Path’s purpose is to know, share and create competitive advantage. With advanced analytics, marketers can know what is working and make informed decisions. We felt that marketers needed to own their own data and that our job was to share that data across the organization. We also need to create competitive advantage. We need to generate insight that is actionable and adds value.
Our initial premise was that we needed to start with the technical layer. We start looking at a clients technical infrastructure to make sure they have the right pieces in place to collect and analyze technical data. These are things like Omniture, Google Analytics Premium, Coremetrics, and others. We also look at deployment of tag management systems, which allow you to create strategic business requirements that link to tracking technologies across different site experiences. We then look at the integration and overlay of behavioral data on top of your data. Finally, we look at bringing in Axiom or Experion data in to bring more context. If you think about value-added resellers in a traditional enterprise, we are a value-added reseller for marketing technologies.