10 Buyers and Sellers You Need to Know

The players with the biggest audiences—and those with the most dollars to spend

The Sellers: Platform Companies

Perhaps it’s a sign of how in flux digital advertising remains that the backgrounds of the men (and they’re all men) charged with overseeing ad sales at the biggest Silicon Valley platform companies are so varied, 17 years after the industry began selling banners. Only one of them—Twitter’s Adam Bain—is a true native of the digital world, and his company’s the one that’s still trying to invent a revenue model for itself. There are obvious synergies in bringing someone with a television or a consumer marketing background into one of these jobs; less obvious to divine are those that draw on experience overseeing supply chain management or a government bureaucracy.

Frank Holland

Corporate vp, advertising and online business


For most of his 13 years at Microsoft, Frank Holland’s focus has been the company’s supply chain. Yes, that’s right: the new chief of Microsoft Advertising is a logistics guy.

The former corporate vp of operations, who assumed his new role in April, says his background helps him connect Microsoft’s “phone, Web, browsing, and entertainment [silos].” And, helpfully for a company whose messy structure for managing ad sales has sometimes confounded clients, Holland, married with two kids, has a reputation for having great people skills.

John Connors, Microsoft’s former CFO—who spent three years recruiting Holland from Accenture, which he joined in 1987—says Holland once volunteered, and went, to rural Montana to help his father, a county commissioner, upgrade the county’s computer system.

A history buff, Holland says, “The way I surface areas that my company might invest in is grounded in . . . what has history taught us about where we can go?” —Ki Mae Heussner

David Fischer

Vp, advertising and global operations


David Fischer was a Silicon Valley novice when he joined Google in 2003. Prior to his tech move, Fischer, now married with two children, had been a journalist and then deputy chief of staff at the U.S. Treasury Department during the Clinton administration. His fresh perspective was an advantage. For instance, back then banners were the most successful form of online advertising, but he helped grow Google’s text-based AdWords.

At Facebook, which he joined in March, Fischer is part of a growing Beltway cabal that includes Marne Levine and Elliot Schrage. In fact, he followed COO Sheryl Sandberg there from Google; the two worked together at Treasury under Larry Summers.

Fischer’s political chops haven’t weakened; he’s notorious for staying on message. And his familiarity with international finance is ingrained; his father, Stanley, governor of the Bank of Israel, has also worked at the IMF and World Bank. —Erin Griffith

Adam Bain

President, revenue


Last year, Adam Bain—then president of Fox Audience Network—became so disgusted with abysmal online ad performance that he had a “Jerry Maguire-type experience,” he says, exiting the company to “do some soul searching.”

He joined Twitter in August 2010, lured by the dramatic engagement rates. He’s built Twitter’s sales headcount from 10 to more than 60, and launched Promoted Tweets, Trends, and Accounts campaigns with more than 600 marketers.

An information junkie, Bain, who’s married with two kids, says he realized early on digital would dramatically change newsrooms. He helped create Cleveland.com, the digital arm of The Plain Dealer—Bain’s an Ohio native—some 17 years ago. Next he was at the Los Angeles Times website, followed by 13 years at News Corp.

Ross Levinsohn (up next), Bain’s former boss at News Corp., says, “I’ve always said I’d probably end up working for him one day.” —E.G.