The trend toward having a Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) is growing, and Waterloo, Ont.-based Sortable has just hired its first by luring a media veteran from Vice Canada.
CROs are essentially responsible for all revenue-generating processes in the organization, said Ryan Fuss, Sortable’s latest employee, and it’s a role that’s become increasingly common in Silicon Valley. Traditionally, revenue generation has been fragmented throughout business units, he said, and there was a need to have a C-level executive overseeing all revenue generation. This includes sales and marketing, and enables a company to fully align to create cohesive plans. “It’s definitely an emerging trend.”
At Vice Canada, Fuss was responsible for consolidating all revenue-generation goals and staff. “As CRO you can come in with a vision,” he said. “Historically that’s been more of a challenge within an organization. Some CROs act more as a COO.”
Sortable works directly with publishers to optimize display ads so they can increase revenue. It was listed No. 8 on the most recent Deloitte Fast 50, having grown from four employees to more than 60 in the past two years.
Fuss has 18 years of experience on the media sales side, and his move reflects his interest in the technology side. “Sortable stood out to me,” he said. “The CRO role really fit with what my ambitions were, which was to take a step into the ad tech world. Their technology is best in class.” He’d encountered the brand before, so becoming an employee was a long process of discussions with its CEO and founder.
“It’s going to be a big learning curve, but I think it’s going to be a reciprocal learning curve,” said Fuss, who sees himself bringing institutional knowledge to the role from years of being on the publishing side and reinforcing the importance of remembering that the inventory of digital content supported by companies like Sortable and created by digital publishers is done by people.
He’s also excited to support the “phenomenal” technology boom in his hometown of Waterloo, where he spent 12 years growing up – and is now returning with his wife and small child.
For two-year-old Sortable, the role of CRO is a new position, said CEO and founder Christopher Reid. “The job is to drive revenue so that’s why we wanted that title,” Reid said. “Marketing and sales are the largest drivers of leads into the business.” Fuss’ job is a “full stack” one that sees him take care of customers all of the way through the process, whereas a CMO would only be focused on marketing, and a CFO would be focused on financial metrics.
“It’s a giant win to bring in someone of his calibre to operationalise the business,” said Reid. “He’s done a lot of this before.” Sortable didn’t go looking create this role, however; it was the result a process of Reid and Fuss meeting and having conversations over several months. “It was really more serendipitous than anything,” he said. Fuss brings with him relationships and a deeper understanding of big publishers that will help Sortable productise best practices.
Reid said it’s also a big win for the region. “Waterloo is considered a strong technology town, but not necessarily where you would find an adverting company,” he said. “We’re pretty proud that we can play a role in an industry our region is not known for.”