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Thought Leaders in E-Commerce: Brian Rigney, CEO of Zmags (Part 1)

Posted on Monday, Jan 4th 2016

Content and Commerce are trying to integrate, albeit at  a slow pace. The world order is very far still from my 2007 vision: Web 3.0 = (4C + P + VS). Nonetheless, read on to learn about some very interesting developments in the industry.

Sramana Mitra: Let’s start by introducing our audience to yourself as well as to Zmags.

Brian Rigney: I’m the CEO of Zmags. I joined Zmags just about two years ago. My background before that has been a series of startups including companies like CashStar that does digital commerce through gift cards and other applications.

Sramana Mitra: That’s a Maine company right?

Brian Rigney: That is a Maine company, yes. You can find them at CashStar.com.

Sramana Mitra: We’ve done their story. I know Dave.

Brian Rigney: He asked me to join as a co-founder. I consulted before he raised any money. Then I joined formally as the eighth employee, and helped to grow its customers from just Home Depot and a few others to over 250 retailers and banks including J.P. Morgan, Walmart, GAP and many others. I have also helped advise a series of companies both publicly and privately held to help them into new spaces and new markets. These include companies like WEX, which is a fleet fueling card.

Then I also was the Founder and CEO of a company called BlueTarp Financial, which is one of the first digital commerce companies that I started back in 1999 and ran for the next six and a half years. Think of them as a commerce payments technology platform. They’re both the issuer of the BlueTarp accounts and the acquirer of merchants. They service both the merchant and the cardholder.

Sramana Mitra: What is Zmags?

Brian Rigney: Zmags is a privately held company owned by the Gores Group, which is a private equity fund based out of California. Zmags is a SaaS-based company that offers two products. The first is called Publicator that allows someone to upload a PDF and convert that into a richer, more engaging, online experience. It includes commerce. Our newest product is called Creator. That’s what we’re most excited about. Creator is a SaaS-based patform as well that allows e-commerce marketers to create rich, engaging content, and then deploy that to their website without any coding.

Today, you can start off wanting to create a new experience for your website. You could create it the next 30 minutes. Five minutes after that, it could go live with animation and multiple images. It doesn’t require anyone to do any coding. Zmags’ classic entrepreneur story started in Copenhagen in 2006 as someone’s idea during college. He wanted to raise some venture capital and expand to the North American market. He opened up a headquarters office here in Boston in the 2008 to 2009 time frame. He raised some venture money.

A new vision came into play. That vision was bold. They tried to execute against that over the next three years. Ultimately, it was too bold. They had some early buy-ins and success with signing on customers but the challenges and the technology limitations at that time did not make it possible to achieve their vision. In early 2013, the company was put up for sale. In December 2013, the Gores Group came in to take a look at it. The company was acquired formally in January of 2014.

This segment is part 1 in the series : Thought Leaders in E-Commerce: Brian Rigney, CEO of Zmags
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