We exchanged emails for this interview and it has been slightly condensed and edited.
Marc Goldberg: I have known you Richy for over 20 years. Can you let everyone know a little more about your background.
Richy Glassberg: I have had one of the most magical careers anyone could ever dream of. I was right out of college working at MTV in the early years. I got to do every live show from Live Aid until Amnesty international, including the pilot of Yo MTV Raps, Remote Control, the First Spring Breaks. Insane.
MG: Wait MTV played videos??
RG: Ha, Yes, Then I got to work and transitioned into Cable Sales. First at MTVN and then at Turner. One day, I got called into a conference room and assigned with three others from the home office in Atlanta to start CNN.com. That started my last 25+ years in digital. CNN.com, around the world, helped co-found the IAB here and then globally, I served as the volunteer Vice Chair for the first 5 years until we had a paid staff. Founded Phase2Media, the first premium ad network in the digital space, ran two big revenue business for News Corp in the multi platform world (Speed Channel and Gemstar TV Guide) helped to sell Gemstar with a crew of folks, fixed some digital companies on the Left Coast, came in as the turn around person for Medialets and helped to pivot the company to be the first mobile agency side ad server. Helped to sell the company to WPP, ran it post acquisition for 2 years and then tried to figure out what I wanted to do next.
I also helped found Breastcancer.org in 1999/2000 and am the longest serving board member of the org and leading fund raiser with our BCO Bowl A Thons in NYC raising over $5.5 million in 11 years.
So in January of 2018, I looked at the landscape and thought that GDPR was the first in a coming tidal wave of privacy regulation coming down the pike. Mainly because we forgot the consumer for the last ten years and pissed everyone off.
So I decided to tackle privacy compliance. And I needed a co founder. I needed to find someone with a better background in privacy than I had in adtech/digital. So I went out and found Wayne. He is more well known in the privacy world, than I am in the media world. The perfect partner.
MG: Both Richy and my Mother would say ” So you are in advertising when you could have been a lawyer?” You are a lawyer in advertising, They would be proud of you. You are one of the pioneers around privacy law. Can you tell us more about your journey?
Wayne Matus: I was a partner in a global law firm in the 1990’s when the EU first recognized Privacy as a fundamental right for the protection of individuals. At time time, I was the head of Intellectual Property for the law firm, and I immediately recognized its importance, and the implications of making privacy a fundamental right for all technology based businesses. I went on to co-found the privacy practice at the oldest law firm in California. From there, I went to my largest Client UBS and served as the Managing Director of Compliance globally. Essentially, the senior lawyer worried about compliance and risk. Then GDPR came along and I had to tackle for the bank. The rest is history.
MG: So you both got together. Richy you have had many hats and Wayne you know what needs to be done. Since together I think you have one of the most compelling and comprehensive privacy offerings as you know the moving parts on both sides. For a big advertising client. Where do you see the pain points in US legislation?
RG: First and foremost, the advertisers, agencies, platforms and vendors are going to be facing a patchwork of legislation. While they will all have some similarities, they all will have material differences. We are not talking about industry standards, we are talking about laws with teeth and fines. Not cool.
So the pain will be in keeping up and making sure the folks you do business with are keeping up as well.
MG: Are publishers in the same boat? The laws don’t change but they are in a different position, no?
RG: Seriously, everyone is in the same boat. The bigger issue today is that every publisher is different and has a slightly different tech stack. The one thing we know is there is little commonality and folks are connected in the ecosystem in myriad ways. This adds to both the complexity and the risk. Where did the data come from? Who has the rights to it? How can it be used? For what? Did I just violate someone’s rights without knowing it?
A pub may feel they have the rights, but an agency or advertiser may have a different take on the regs and who then bears the responsibility or the risk? Will a regulator fine Ground Truth or P&G? I think they will go for the bigger fish.
MG: Wayne. CCPA is just California. We have more than one state in this union, is every state going to have different rules or do you think we are going to see one during the Biden administration.?
WM: Privacy law will likely be state-by-state and many variations. California has a privacy law, now two, because of ballots initiative. It was not the California Democratic party that pushed for a new privacy law and it is more aggressive than would have been passed through the legislative process. A few states may follow that model, because it is a model, but most likely each will follow its own path. We have seen that with Washington State, Virginia, Nevada and now New York.
As to a federal law, when Democrats and Republicans can agree on something, maybe we will have a national privacy law – but dont hold your breath.
MG: What does your product look to solve?
RG: We have built the first fully auditable compliance platform to help companies manage their compliance efforts. We save them a ton of time, money and reduce their risk. Our assessments are comprehensive and to the law while written in plain language and we highlight your risk and path to compliance.
For Marketers, agencies and platforms, we solve the thorny issue of vendor compliance.
MG: The privacy space is very crowded are you trying to replace onetrust?
RG: No, we don’t do what they do or frankly anyone else. We have built the first true compliance platform for companies to manage their privacy compliance efforts. We are actually harmonious with any of the hundreds of tool vendors or automated tools out there.
WM:Our Vendor Compliance Hub (VCH) takes the same approach. Fully auditable platform that manages your thousands of vendors in one place. We are replacing the paper RFI with a secure system to manage vendors.
RG: Does your product replace lawyers?
WM: No it was built by our legal team, but we are not giving legal advice. We make the law make sense in plain language with questions, commentary, policy and law on a single page where you can document your work. You still need your in house and external lawyer. This is an expert legal system. We just make it easier for you to do your work with your legal partners.
MG: Are you self funded? Are you looking for funding?
RG: We have bootstrapped the company since 2018 and just began to take some funding last year.
MG: Richy you are a hugger and guy who shakes a lot of hands, this pandemic must be killing you! How has Covid impacted you both you personally and professionally?
RG: So this is my 7th start up (3 in big media companies and 4 on my own) and I forgot to have global pandemic on my bingo card. And Katy and I decided to downsize after 25 years when Evil Spawn #2 was deep into college. So we sold the house and moved while the world shut down while running a startup from scratch and a lock down. Lots of fun! The evil pooch gets great walks and I continue my rowing and martial arts to stay sane.
WM: This was the perfect time to get a new dog and take care of it, so we did.