I Joined A Startup To Help Bring Some Simplicity To Our Complex World

I’ve been a little quiet lately, so I’m happy and relieved to finally share some exciting news. I recently left Nielsen BuzzMetrics (now known as Nielsen Online) – a company I remain passionate about and loyal to – to join an exciting startup in the search advertising space. My new company is called Clickable, and this is what it does:

Clickable provides a simple, effective service for creating and managing online advertising. Their technology provides powerful campaign management tools and an intuitive interface to view and manage performance and direct spending across all major ad networks. Plus, advertisers are empowered to self-manage their ad buying to yield transformational results. Clickable’s campaign management tools monitor campaign performance, provide actionable alerts and provide analytics that allow advertisers to maximize their advertising return on investment. They also have embedded contextual and multimedia training so you can enable and educate your online advertising workforce.

My new role is vice president of marketing, and my mission is to help build the company’s reputation and evangelize best practices in search-engine and online marketing to help Clickable’s customers (small and midsize businesses) succeed. This is my first week.

What drew me to this opportunity? Aside from VC Fred Wilson’s introduction to CEO and cofounder David S. Kidder, there were six major factors that made this opportunity a no-brainer for me:

  1. Passion – I’ve said it before, passion matters because it’s the ultimate competitive advantage. And passion and high energy radiate from every corner of this early-stage company. The team has a deep sense of mission and it shows in everything they do. It’s in their veins and they pride themselves on that, and I mean everybody.
  2. Business – Clickable’s religion is performance coupled with simplicity, and the business is poised to win thanks to a great idea coupled with strategic and smart thinking. The company is both agile and disciplined in its execution. Simplicity is not easy, yet there’s a loud cry for it and Clickable is answering. At the end of the day, it’s a unique and compelling value proposition, manifesting even in its early beta. I will have no trouble at all directing my passion toward Clickable’s story. Even if I had never joined the team, I would’ve championed the cause.
  3. Entrepreneurialism – Anyone who really knows me knows very well that I thrive in unexplored territory and unstructured environments – situations that require entrepreneurialism, creativity, resourcefulness and a winning-is-the-only-option attitude. The entrepreneurial bug is rampant here. Like me, everyone else has been through a number of other exciting and successful startups.
  4. Innovation – To me, innovation means to be alive and prosper. If a company’s not innovating, it’s probably going sideways or dying. The team at Clickable is innovating at a rapid clip on the most strategic and tactical levels. “Come up with a solution and go with it,” I’ve already heard dozens of times in my first few days. There’s an opportunity to establish a new category and redefine the way our customers think and do business.
  5. Stake – I don’t really mean equity, though that certainly plays a role. What’s really important is having a high-impact stake in the success or failure of the business. Plain and simple.
  6. Domain – I’ve been submersed in interactive marketing and emerging media for more than a decade now. I love what I do and that’s why subject-matter obsession has characterized my entire professional life. That’s also why I consider myself a student far more than I’ll ever consider myself a veteran or expert. Clickable is aimed dead center on search engine marketing, a critical dimension of my broader experience. I look forward to building my equity in this direction.

Beyond these core reasons, it also feels good to go home at night and know that we’re helping the little guys – small to midsize businesses – do better and become more competitive. I didn’t invent the phrase (I believe credit goes to Jeff Jarvis and Seth Godin) but small really is the new big. And this is one manifestation of that truth.

Now, to answer some questions which keep coming my way:

  1. Why did you leave Nielsen? – I didn’t “leave” Nielsen. Rather, I did my deed in helping to build the BuzzMetrics business and I graduated. I wasn’t really looking to get out when I did, but I did come across a great opportunity, one which made a lot of sense for me. My time at Nielsen BuzzMetrics and Nielsen Online is a badge of honor. I’m proud of the company I helped create, which has become the spearhead for the larger Nielsen business. I will continue as a champion of the company and remain close friends with my former colleagues, especially Jonathan Carson, Pete Blackshaw, Jerry Needel and others past and present.
  2. Why did you turn your back on social media? – I never expected that question, but it came in my “executive move” interview with Joe Mandese, editor-in-chief of MediaPost, where I also happen to pen the Friday Spin column. The fact is that I didn’t turn my back on social media. While I’m no longer studying it all day long from a research-vendor perspective, social-media and Web 2.0 thinking is very much engrained within the Clickable mindset, and core to our customer and broader marketing mission. (Fred Wilson is one of the leading investors, don’t forget.) I promise to eventually share some of the fascinating and innovative social-media strategies and community platforms that contribute to Clickable’s success.
  3. Will you continue to be active on the blog and elsewhere? – Yes. AttentionMax will be my experimental platform for more personal and nuanced observations on marketing, media and life, as it always has. I will continue to contribute a weekly column for MediaPost, addressing big trends and strategy for the online marketing industry. We also have some exciting blogging initiatives planned for Clickable, which I’ll share in the coming months. As I recently expressed in an interview with Forrester’s Peter Kim, my blogging and other public writing have been critical in cultivating my acumen and voice, resulting in a more open platform and dialogue to benefit my company and its customers. The management team and investors of Clickable recognize that and have encouraged me to build on that platform and leverage the experience to support the business. We’ve entered a new world of marketing, where openness, humanity and voice rule.
  4. Why search? Why Clickable? – I already answered that above!
  5. Where will you be based? – Clickable is headquartered in New York City, so I will remain in the New York area. That was a necessity for me in the near-term, because my wife is an editor at Condé Nast’s Self magazine in New York. We also have a one-year-old son, and it’s important to have my dad, step-mom and sister nearby. Besides, New York is where all the action is, in my honest opinion, and I was born here.
  6. Can I test drive Clickable? – There is a limited beta program underway and it will expand. Please sign up on the bottom of our homepage. If you happen to be in New York and would like to come by for a chat and demo of Clickable, let me know! We’ve got a nice office in the Flatiron District.
  7. I’m interested in working at Clickable. Are you hiring? – Yes! If you are interested in Clickable, contact me. If you are a hardcore, energetic SEM and customer acquisition specialist, please call me ASAP. I need someone to join me very soon to help drive the Clickable business, deepen my own tactical SEM fluency, and support Clickable product development. We’re also looking for a customer experience guru, ASAP. This is a very disciplined product business with close attention paid to business requirements, competency and cultural fit. (My email address is listed in the About Me section of this blog.)

That’s it for now. Many thanks for your support. I’m pumped and looking forward to the exciting challenge ahead.


Here’s the official news release from Clickable.

Here’s a nice write-up from Joe Mandese at MediaPost.

Published by Max Kalehoff

Father, sailor and marketing executive.

Join the Conversation


  1. Max – Congrats on the move. Sounds like a tremendous opportunity, and one that’ll keep you challenged. Good luck – can’t wait to read about the journey.

  2. Max – Congrats on the move. Sounds like a tremendous opportunity, and one that’ll keep you challenged. Good luck – can’t wait to read about the journey.

  3. Congratulations Max, I know you will do well at the new company. Sounds as if family issues were also decisive in your decision. Having a baby does change a lot of things.

  4. Congratulations Max, I know you will do well at the new company. Sounds as if family issues were also decisive in your decision. Having a baby does change a lot of things.

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  6. Wow this sounds like an inspirational story. I do like the way you have put the six major factors. I'm hoping to set up my own company so its nice to hear that people are actually doing it.

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