Human Resources

The CMO Files: Al Campa, App Annie

Al Campa

Organisation: App Annie

Job title: CMO

Location: San Francisco, CA, USA



1.              Where were you born and raised?
I was born and raised in San Jose, so I was fortunately immersed in Silicon Valley from the start and saw it develop over time.    

2.              What was your first job?
After graduating from college, I worked at IBM as a Design Engineer. It was interesting, but I soon found myself fascinated with market dynamics, competitive strategy and business challenges. So I decided to go business school at Harvard, and delved more into marketing. My next job, in product marketing at Sun Microsystems, was really the impetus for my marketing career. Marketing is everywhere; that’s what makes it so exciting.

3.              What was the first product you got really excited about?
I was product manager for Sun Microsystems desktop workstations. They were the most powerful workstations at the time, and fit into a small pizza-sized box. They were so popular - driving Sun sales to over 100% growth per year - that we could not build them fast enough.

4.              Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
My college calculus professor who taught me that nothing worth achieving comes easy. You have to work hard to do incredible things.

5.              What has been your greatest achievement?
Starting up the company Jaspersoft - the idea of starting something from nothing and building it out from a vision is extremely rewarding. You feel responsible for your own people on the team and the magnitude of building something from the ground up and creating jobs is as humbling as it is rewarding.

6.              What has been your biggest mistake?
Tolerating conflict within my team for too long, which only hurts productivity and makes for difficult work environments. Individuals don’t win; teams that play together well do.

7.              What is your greatest strength?
I’m very analytical and fairly creative - having this combination is crucial in marketing. Marketing has become so data-driven that you need to be comfortable with numbers and metrics, which drives optimisation and efficiency. But at the same time, you need to be creative and think out of the box for new breakthrough ideas that can act as a step-function for growth.

8.              What is your biggest weakness?
I arrive at conclusions very quickly and move very fast but it’s important for leaders to allow ample time to communicate new directions or initiatives, so that teams can effectively move into action.

9.              What do you think is the aspect of your role most neglected by peers?
Revenue growth. I hear too many CMOs talking about leads, conversions and acquisition costs. Ultimately we are here to drive revenue growth, so that’s all that really matters.

10.          Which word or phrase is your mantra and which word or phrase makes you squirm?
My mantra is “revenue growth is all that matters”. Everything else is just a means to get there. Don’t measure yourself on the means, but the results instead. Of course, a positive work culture is an important element to any business, especially App Annie, but if the revenue isn’t growing then the whole company suffers.
Words that make me squirm: the phrase ‘platform or suite’ - it makes me think ‘well, which one are you?’; it means you don’t really know what you are.

11.          What makes you stressed?
Senior people who don’t know marketing but consider themselves marketing experts.

12.          What do you do to relax?
I run and I cycle a lot. I also read a lot of history, which helps keep things in perspective. Our time on this planet is limited - you need to enjoy it.

13.          What is your favourite song?
It changes every month. This month it’s Pumped Up Kicks by Foster the People. It reminds me of summer a few years back.

14.          Which book taught you most?
Sapiens. It’s about how early homo sapiens survived and thrived to become the dominant species that we are today. Basically we worked well in large teams.

15.          Do you have a team or sport that you follow?
I’m a soccer junkie (or ‘football’ as it’s known in Britain!). I coached my girls to play soccer and supported them by helping to coach their teams. I’m also a big fan of European soccer - Manchester United, Barcelona. My favourite player is probably Lionel Messi from Barcelona. He is a magician with the ball.

16.          Which country would you like to work in?
I would love to work in Europe; I lived in Barcelona a child and went to school there, so it would be interesting to experience the city from a working perspective.

17.          Which company do you think has the best marketing?
Apple and Nike both do a great job; Apple puts everything together in a user-friendly way. Workday also does a nice job. Not to mention their CEO, Dave Duffiend, is a really nice, approachable guy. Leadership starts at the top.

18.          What do you love most about your job?
The people at App Annie make a genuinely great team; we work hard, come from many different cultures from around the world but work as one team, and strive for excellence in the products we offer our clients. Companies - mainstream and mobile-first - are rapidly entering the mobile app space, and it’s great that we’re on the front line to offer them insights to help them succeed. And we also have some great snacks in the office.

19.          What is your favourite book?
100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Brilliant book about one family’s amazing journey. 

20.          What keeps you awake at night?
Too much caffeine. Otherwise I tend to sleep really well.  


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