The Necessary Growing Pains of Programmatic Are Evident in Latest Cutbacks

Sources say redundancies, echoing recent shakeups at OpenX and GroundTruth

MediaMath issued an internal communique confirming its recent shakeup earlier this week
Illustration: Dianna McDougall; Source: Getty Images

Programmatic has been an ad industry buzzword for a number of years, but the rapid growth of the sector is not without its pain points for the workforce involved amid brewing fears of recession and concentration of spend in the hands of the few.

This was on full effect earlier this week when according to sources with knowledge, leading ad-tech company MediaMath laid off an unspecified number of employees, as it pursues a greater share of the $57 billion U.S. programmatic market.

UPDATE: 12/14: Earlier this week, MediaMath, a demand-side platform that raised $225 million earlier this year, sent an internal communication detailing a realignment of its leadership structure, including the exit of its general manager of supply Lewis Rothkopf.

In our initial coverage, Adweek reported from multiple sources that several jobs were lost in the realignment. After publishing the article, the company’s co-founder Erich Wasserman said the following in an email:

“The internal communication did not discuss job losses. It discussed one and only one exit of one and only one person. So: this statement is a) inaccurate on its face and b) goes on to imply that MediaMath communicated ‘a number of job losses.’ We did no such thing, and the communication did no such thing. Instead, as discussed, we grew our employee base this year. Please fix this.”

According to sources with familiar with the company, the majority of the job losses have occurred due to the merger of its product and engineering teams with the new unit to be led by Wil Schobeiri, who will take on the dual title and responsibility of chief product officer and chief technology officer.

Meanwhile, Franklin Rios, MediaMath’s global head of corporate development, will assume the role of chief commercial officer in addition to his current duties, while MediaMath’s sitting chief product officer Jacob Ross is transitioning to the newly-created role chief business officer. In addition, another newly created role of chief services officer has been handed to Anna Grodecka-Grad, formerly MediaMath’s svp, head of professional services. News of the shake-up also comes just weeks after it emerged that MediaMath’s former president and chief commercial officer Michael Lamb exited the firm.

In a statement sent to Adweek, Joe Zawadzki, MediaMath CEO, said, “The changes we have made in our organizational structure will enable us to develop products for and with our clients in order to ensure that we are best equipped to serve and mobilize the ecosystem as a whole.”

Widespread belt-tightening in ad tech

The juxtaposition of MediaMath’s reorganization echoes similar belt-tightening measures implemented at fellow ad-tech outfits OpenX and GroundTruth, with industry observers forecasting the concentration of digital ad spend into the pockets of the industry’s largest names, i.e. “the walled gardens.”

In the case of OpenX, the company confirmed with Adweek that it recently implemented a multifaceted overhaul of its operations resulting in the reduction of its headcount as well as the closure of one of its offices.

An OpenX spokesperson confirmed that the ad exchange is combining two teams that previously had separate heads—its demand business development and demand account management teams–under the leadership of recent arrival Michael Martin, OpenX’s vp of DSP partnerships.

In addition, it has also closed its office in Santa Clara, Calif., as part of an effort to better align its product and engineering resources with the team formerly based in that location now working out of its existing San Francisco branch.

Neither of the above measures materially impacted its headcount according to an OpenX spokesperson but the combination of roles in its partner services team did result in a number of departures—“fewer than 10 people”—from the ad exchange.

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