Iq News: Insider – Picture Taker




It seems as if the Internet was created for Eileen Hicken Gittins. The chief executive officer of San Francisco-based Personify loves all things pertaining to the marriage of the left and right halves of the brain, the balance between creativity and technology. “I find that convergence fascinating,” she says.
The convergence theme has followed Gittins, 44, throughout her career, even before landing at Personify, a software company that enables sites to track and talk to their audiences. She attended both San Francisco State and the University of California at Berkeley, where she received a Bachelor’s degree in fine art/photography, a discipline melding artistry with mechanics.
Her first job out of college was in sales at Eastman Kodak in San Francisco. Five years later, Gittins was named marketing director in charge of launching new products in Europe. She then led a Kodak division in Seattle that built digital imaging software for the pharmaceutical industry. When Kodak abandoned that business in 1989, she and several colleagues left to start a competitor which later folded during a trying economic period.
Her next gig was in Seattle at Wall Data where she oversaw the marketing of the company’s technology, Salsa, which enabled computer users without technical expertise to create databases. “I like to deal with technology not for technology’s sake [but] when I can see the direct impact on ordinary people’s lives,” she explains.
In 1997, Gittins was approached by a venture capital firm to head a startup called Affinicast. Renamed Personify, the company has developed a statistical sorting engine allowing Web sites to segment otherwise anonymous users into groupings defined by such criteria as gender and age.
Gittins says Personify’s mission is critical for online businesses and marketers, including Virtual Vineyards, which used the software to successfully place ad banners on sites that were more likely to attract people who purchase wine. The online merchant reached buyers, not browsers, and shaved 75 percent off its customer-acquisition costs, says Gittins. She maintains online businesses and marketers must interact with their audiences for electronic commerce to be a success. “If you know a little bit about what makes people tick, you can make them the most relevant offer,” she adds.
And this, of course, leads to the all important return-on-investment data that advertisers and retailers crave–something Gittins says “should be infinitely measurable.”
For Gittins, leading the 2-year-old company is ideal. “I’m an entrepreneur at heart,” she says. “I just love to build it.”