23 Aug 2014
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Start-Up: Rocket Fuel Fuels Big Name Advertisers

This Redwood City start-up company employs over 200 people and is the recipient of awards for company culture, technology and innovation

Start-Up: Rocket Fuel Fuels Big Name Advertisers

As employees walk in Rocket Fuel’s headquarters in Redwood Shores, a French chef and his catering crew begin setting up for a buffet lunch including chicken, a lamb carvery station, fresh salads and flan.

But this is no special occasion; it is lunch as usual at Rocket Fuel.

Kiwoba Allaire, the Office Manager and “Chief Love Officer,” explains that as part of a move to keep employees on campus at lunchtime, Rocket Fuel features a lunch from a different culture every day.

Rocket Fuel has been in in Redwood Shores since 2008, when it was started by the team of George John, Richard Frankel and Abhinav Gupta.

It has since grown to employ 211 people located mostly at its Bay Area headquarters but also throughout 15 offices worldwide, including in the UK, Canada and Germany.

The company provides targeted advertising solutions to marketers that enable them to target the individuals most likely to engage with their brand and make purchases at a particular time. They are able to do this by carefully analyzing with artificial-intelligence, people's likelihood to be interested in a product, engage with it and turn that engagement into a financial benefit.

This in turn saves advertisers money, as they don’t have to buy advertisements that are used on those uninterested in buying their product.

According to Brian Ferrario, Rocket Fuel’s Marketing Director, the digital advertising field is growing, which gives companies in the field the advantage of not having to directly compete for each client.

“We don’t have to increase market share to keep growing,” said Ferrario.

However, Ferrario stressed that Rocket Fuel does have a leg up over its competitors by doing with artificial intelligence what other companies must do manually.

“There’s no having to log-in and manually touch a button,” Ferrario added.

Rocket Fuel’s technology combined with a strong international sales force has landed them big advertising deals with companies including BMW, Royal Caribbean Cruises and Marks and Spencer.

Employees of the company emphasized the collaborative nature of the company culture.

CEO George John eats lunch regularly with employees and keeps employees updated through a weekly meeting.

John, himself a former rocket scientist, was called a “humble genius” and the “nicest executive” by Allaire, who also serves as his executive assistant.

John stressed that the company is continuing to expand and has plans in the near future to hire an additional 100 employees.

Both John and Allaire were invited to speak last week at a meeting of the Redwood City City Council, where they were presented with a proclamation from Mayor Alicia Aguirre for their contribution to the Redwood City community.

Enthusiasm for the company’s culture and its work seems to permeate beyond the management.

Parker Toms, a summer intern from Yale, lauded the company’s future potential.

“This is a viable company that’s going to succeed,” said Toms.


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