George has literally seen and lived the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Silicon Valley tech startups and enjoys sharing those stories and experiences. He spent his “pre-Internet” career at one company (IRI) for 15 years, pioneering applications in data and analytics for consumer behavior,
George earned degrees in Engineering, Math, and a Masters in Management from Purdue University. In 1981 he joined Information Resources, Inc. (IRI) in Chicago where he spent 15 years serving as a member of the management team, helping build the Company from $2M to $300M in revenues.
George rose to CEO-North America, responsible for over $270M in revenues and over 4,000 employees, selling/servicing blue-chip clients such as Procter, Pepsi, General Mills, and dozens of others in marketing information services, consumer behavior data and analytics, and advertising/media and promotion strategy. He also served in London for 18 months as President-IRI of Europe, launching IRI services in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Turkey, and the Netherlands.
During this period George was recruited to be CEO of A.C. Nielsen, responsible for $300 million and nearly 4,000 employees, effecting a cultural and business turnaround within six months after which he was recruited back to IRI for an additional 2 years before “seeing the light” and heading to Silicon Valley in 1997.
During this period George was considered one of the leading experts and data analytics pioneers in CPG consumer behavior, advertising, media and promotion. He was a Board Member of the Advertising Research Foundation and a frequent keynote speaker at CPG industry conferences and events.
George networked his way into the early Silicon Valley Internet community and in 1998 joined startup ad network Flycast Communications as CEO where, within one year, he repositioned and reintroduced the company as the internet’s leading direct response advertising network. His leadership grew revenues from $1 million to $40 million, staff from 40 to 185, and a year after joining led its IPO in 1999 with a $500M market cap. He subsequently negotiated its sale to CMGI in early 2000 for $2.3B, producing record returns to investors including Bessemer Ventures, Charles River Ventures, and St. Paul Capital. Shortly after, George served as CEO of PlaceWare Web Conferencing where within six months he had redirected the culture, opened new sales channels, and produced a turnaround in key operating metrics and 18% increase in annualized revenues to over $50M. In Q1 2003, although they were on path to IPO, after being approached by Microsoft he negotiated its sale for $200M where it became MS’ platform for virtual meetings and conferencing. PlaceWare had been funded by Interwest, Scale VP, and 3i ventures among others.
The following year, George joined Wine.com as CEO where he raised $20M in new financing and revitalized the Company from flat revenues to 45% growth in 2004 and 50% growth in
2005 including major distribution partnerships with Amazon.com and HSN. He put the company in a clear market leadership position and was once again approached by a buyer, Liberty Media, with whom he signed a sale agreement. However, after a shareholder battle resulting in a hostile takeover,
George voluntarily departed Wine.com in August 2005 (along with the rest of the management team and independent board members) following the change in company ownership and control.
Soon after, George joined newly-founded Jingle Networks, which had just launched 1-800-FREE411 as the first no-cost 411 service applying the paid-search ad model to in-call audio advertising. Within the first year George and his team had grown the business to 20 million callers per month, capturing a 4% market share of all-carrier directory assistance calls. George raised $75 million in expansion capital from investors including Firstround, Goldman Sachs, Hearst, and Comcast and the post-money valuation increased from $12M to $170M. In June 2008, George transitioned to a board role after commuting from the Bay Area to Boston for 2.5 years, and Jingle was eventually acquired by Marchex.
In 19XX, 2 days following a controversy over questionable advertiser offers in which the Founder/CEO was inextricably indicted, at the request of Interwest Ventures George joined Offerpal Media, the leading monetization and distribution partner for developers of social games and applications on Facebook during the days when games and apps were the main revenue source. As CEO, he cleaned up the controversies, and as Facebook transitioned from an app to an advertising revenue model, he pivoted and repositioned the company from Web to Mobile with the acquisition of startup Tapjoy (renaming the company from Offerpal to Tapjoy), and then replacing $100MM of social app revenue with mobile app revenue. Tapjoy today is the largest distribution and monetization network/platform for mobile games and apps.
He transitioned to Executive Chairman for six months before joining Social Shield as President and CEO (he maintained a role at Offerpal as an Independent Board Member from May through August 2011). Social Shield was the leading service for protecting and reducing risk for younger teens on the social web in the early days of cyberbullying and social network predators. He was hired by the Chairman for a one-year assignment to assess options, and recommend a path forward. As CEO, he improved the product and received PC Magazine Editor’s Choice and Product of the Year awards as well as the Dow Jones “Fast 50” award. But ultimately he concluded an exit/merger was the best outcome for the company, and he ran a successful M&A process to find a parent and closed a sale to Avira GmbH & Co. in Germany.
During this time he concurrently managed his personal investment/consulting firm G2Ventures which he founded in 1996 where he served as investor, board member, and/or advisor to portfolio companies include Playdom, Adify, Market6, SocialShield, Comscore (where he was a founding Board Member), Qik, Bizrate/Shopzilla, Instill, Responsys, and Digital Impact. Many of these went on to successful exits or IPOs.
From April 2012 to June 2012, George was recruited as Interim CEO at Interwest-backed Brand.net for a 2-month assignment to lead this digital brand ad network with $30MM annualized revenues after the pending exit collapsed and the founder/CEO quit. While in this role, he stabilized the Company, retained key employees, re-engaged a buyer with a new LOI and closed a sale to Valassis Communications, all within 60 days. George was them on a sabbatical leave for few years due to health issues and family priorities and obligations.
After fully recovering from his health issues, George took on the mantle as President and CEO at Mobeam Inc., a proprietary technology company to enable smartphones to communicate with laser scanners embedded in over 500 million Samsung phones. George was hired to pivot from a 3d party coupon app to mobile payments after 4 years of lackluster progress, and then find an exit. Mobeam was acquired in February 2017 by Samsung and its technology remains a core part of SamsungPay which is in distribution today on over 100 million smartphones.
George and his wife Lainie have recently become empty nesters as their youngest of three children has left for college. They will continue to enjoy following their oldest son in his recently launched pro-golf career, their daughter who plays volleyball for USC, and of course visiting their youngest who recently embarked for USC. Meanwhile George intends to remain active professionally in investor, advisor and Board roles and is also seeking a full-time engagement as either a CEO or an Operating Partner with a VC or PE firm.