How it all started…

My first computer was in 1983 and I quickly got online afterwards. Yes, you could get online before the Internet and I fell hard for it. It was my first love, spending countless hours visiting bulletin board systems around the world. It was a way of life that shaped my early years and led to the path I am on today.

In college I discovered gopher, FTP, Telnet – early Internet protocols – and started to discover the Internet and everything that was available. A year later Mosaic was released, the world’s first Internet browser. That changed everything.

In 1995, I started a hosting company, where we created the first database driven websites with Cold Fusion pre-release software. We later moved on to become an ISP and quickly sold the company to a well funded competitor. Looking for a new opportunity, I joined a local e-commerce startup called Addashop as the Director of Marketing. It was a blast and Internet mania had taken over the world.

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Then a monkey appeared…

In 1999, I got a call from a 19 year old kid that had created the first game to use complex CGI scripts that generated dynamic content to first-generation browsers. The game was called TreeLoot (the company: Virtumundo) and as you played the game, it showed online banners. I was brought on to head up marketing and drive the game’s growth. I created a series of banners that amazingly people still remember today. The banners were in your face mini-games and had titles like punch the monkey, shock the monkey, and hit the ducks. I became one of the biggest online media buyers in the world, buying billions of banner impressions every year. The website quickly grew and by 2000 the website ranked #17 on the MediaMetrix top website list. I also worked on the B2B side of the fence and positioned the parent company as one of the first AdTech companies in the space. During the dot com implosion, we pivoted a few times and began growing the AdTech part of the business, this later spun off as Adknowledge, a billion dollar marketing company.

My next challenge was Date.com, one of the first online dating companies that was started in 1997. I was brought on to streamline their marketing and set them up to grow. I optimized their landing pages, creatives, onboarding, checkout flows, etc, anything I could do to make more people whip out their credit card and start paying. Within a year at the company, I was able to lower their acquisition cost by over 70% at zero cost. This helped me get their CJ.com affiliate ranking in the dating category from 11th to 3rd place, just behind two startups that raised $200 million combined. Another trick I used was to segment the creatives into niches that affiliates loved, this strategy was huge for us that lead to the launch of a whole series of websites including Amor.com, a spanish dating site.

Getting the band back together…

The Founder of Adknowledge gave me a call, his head of marketing had left the company and he needed someone right away. They had just raised $48 million from TCV a few months before but do to a shift in the market, their valuation had dropped. I was brought on board and we quickly started to diversify the company into a wide variety of marketing channels through a series of acquisitions: Miva.com (ecommerce), SuperRewards (mobile), Cubics (social), Lookery (ad serving), MediaRun (Ad networks in UK and Australian) and Hydra Group (affiliate). I also helped launch a few internal brands including Adstation (I actually picked and bought the domain.) While there, I worked on a bunch of cool projects, one time I spent three months rewriting 10,000 subject lines for AdStation and adjusting the creatives and believe it or not… increased overall company revenue by 20% by myself. During my tenure the company valuation grew by 10X and was in a great position, they raised $200 million a few years later from JMI Equity and continued to grow.

After Adknowledge, I wanted to work with a wide variety of companies so I worked at an interactive agency and did some consulting as well. I worked with clients like Flycell, a division of Acotel Group to built up their marketing and media buying. We had clients large and small and it’s always fun to help companies succeed.

Back to the world of AdTech

I decided to go back to AdTech and joined up with the people at Adiant (known only as Adblade when I started). The company had developed the first content marketing ad unit and was placing it on publications on sites like USAToday, ABC, WSJ and hundreds of others across the country. This is where I started learning about content marketing. Working with hundreds of publishers and advertisers I was understanding what worked within the industry. This time was also the inspiration for me to start writing my first book “Content Marketing.” The industry had changed a lot since the days of the “Shock the monkey” ads and I loved pulling users in with great content. It’s the perfect strategy for both B2B and B2C companies. I must have written thousands of headlines while at Adblade on behalf of advertisers and it’s always amazing to get instant feedback on the success or failure of your writing. That’s always the beauty of AdTech, near instant results and feedback on your work and a constantly improving process.

Oh, the JOY…

I went back to consulting for a couple years and early in 2015 I got a new client, HealthJoy. This small startup quickly turned into a full time gig, it was so fast my head was spinning. I found myself commuting from Miami to Chicago on a weekly basis from Monday through Thursday. After 6 months of traveling back and forth and a lot of jetlag, I decided to come onboard full time as their Chief Marketing Officer. When I started at the company, they didn’t even have a mobile app (we are a mobile first company now). I’ve been loving the startup life and building things from scratch. I was a one man marketing team until the summer of 2017 handling everything from product marketing, product development, onboarding, branding, lead generation, marcom, head designer, emails, just about everything you can think of. A few of my articles have been published for VentureBeat on the development of our chatbot technology that shows some of our progression. HealthJoy is a wonderful app that’s goal is to help employees navigate the complexity of the healthcare system. It’s a great feeling at work when you hear about some of the lives we’ve changed with our tool. If your company doesn’t offer HealthJoy, go bug your HR department. 🙂

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