We’re thrilled to announce the addition of Ben Gafni to the StackCommerce team! With an expansive publisher network currently reaching over 1 billion monthly visitors across more than 750 publisher partners worldwide, we are always searching for new ways to better serve our ecosystem.
We couldn’t be happier to have Ben leading the charge on the growth and evolution of our publisher network as our new VP of Publisher and Business Development. Ben joined us from Google where he provided incredible leadership to the publisher-facing development team for over 12 years. Today, we are picking his brain on everything from his time at Google to his vision for the future of StackCommerece’s publisher network.
Liz: You recently joined StackCommerce after a long tenure at Google. Can you describe the evolution of your time there?
Ben: After starting my career in strategy consulting in New York, I joined a startup here in LA called Applied Semantics, which launched my career working with publishers. Applied Semantics created AdSense, one of the first contextual ad targeting technologies designed to help publishers monetize in a new way with text ads. When Google acquired the company in 2003, I joined Google’s publisher-facing business development team and worked to sign search and content syndication deals across multiple verticals. My role evolved over time, as Google acquired Doubleclick and began to work with partners in a much more multifaceted way led by ad platform technology and programmatic monetization across display, mobile and video. Most recently, I led a team in LA focused on Google’s largest partners in the entertainment and media space.
Liz: What excited you about the opportunity at Stack?
Ben: In looking towards my next role, I focused on high-growth start-ups in the LA area that aligned with my goals on several fronts — industry, culture, and leadership opportunities being paramount. The more I got to know the StackCommerce team, the more it became clear there was a true synergy on both sides. At Stack, I am able to leverage my experience with publishers but in a novel way: helping partners navigate the emerging sphere of native commerce. I have the opportunity to lead a fantastic team, and absolutely love the open, team-oriented, and dynamic culture.
Liz: What are some of your top priorities as our VP of Publisher and Business Development? What type of impact do you hope to make?
Ben: It has been great to dive in, learn the ins and outs of the StackCommerce model, and build a strategic plan for 2017. Native commerce powered by Stack has become such an important part of our core partners’ businesses that I am focusing on building out our newer verticals such as Women’s Lifestyle and News — with the goal of having a tailored storefront offering for publishers of all shapes and sizes. I am also ramping our PR efforts to ensure our media presence reflects the impact we have been able to drive in the marketplace. Overall, I am aiming to apply rigor and strategic focus to what we do in order to drive revenue growth across the organization.
Liz: What is your favorite thing about Stack so far?
Ben: I have been super impressed with the spirit of collaboration and high energy that permeates the culture here at Stack. There is a constant flow of ideas and nobody hesitates to share thoughts on how we can make the company more successful. As a new member of the team, I have a ton of ideas about where we might take the business and have been encouraged by the collective willingness to entertain new approaches and challenge existing assumptions. Plus, everyone is just plain fun to be around – and working right on Venice Beach doesn’t hurt!
Liz: At Stack, we stress the importance of work-life balance. What do you do to live a balanced life?
Ben: Balance is something I’m constantly trying to achieve across many aspects of my life, most notably between work and family. I have 3 amazing daughters that throw me immediately into “dad mode” once I walk through the door each evening. Being able to toss work aside and focus on my family is something I value immensely. To that end, I try to separate from electronics until after the kids are asleep and avoid distractions as much as possible.
One thing I do for fun, exercise, and general sanity is play basketball. I’ve organized a twice-a-week game with a group of friends for the past 10+ years, which accounts for nearly 100% of my cardio and keeps the competitive juices flowing in a (mostly) friendly environment.