AppNexus co-founder Brian O’Kelley is stepping down from his role as CEO following its purchase by AT&T as the telco moves to integrate the ad-tech company into its recently rebranded media and advertising unit Xandr.
O’Kelley will move to an advisory role within Xandr, according to reports citing sources familiar with the reorganization. This will also see AppNexus’ former CFO Jonathan Hsu plus ex-chief people and legal officer Nithya Das also move to advisory roles.
Xandr is led by CEO Brian Lesser, a one-time AppNexus board member, who has been piecing together its ad tech play since his move to the telecoms company in late 2017 from GroupM where he was CEO, North America. The new unit houses all of the telco’s data-led offerings, including its pre-existing advanced TV service AT&T AdWorks and its analytics business ATT.net as well as its current integration of AppNexus.
Lesser’s unit will seek to better leverage AT&T’s existing customer data and its vast portfolio of television content it acquired through the landmark $85.4 billion merger with entertainment giant Time Warner where ad tech was a key part of that play.
Ad-tech veteran O’Kelley is widely regarded as one of the godfathers of ad tech and co-founded AppNexus in 2007, helping to steer it toward its estimated $1.6 billion sale in June this year.