Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Mr. Walker became our Chairman and Chief Executive Officer on August 23, 2021 and, from 2018 until the completion of the Organizational Transactions, served in the role of Managing Partner of the Company. Prior to founding Direct Digital Holdings with Mr. Smith, Mr. Walker worked at CVG Group, LLC, (“CVG Group”) a private equity firm, from October 2016 to May 2019 as the Chief Operating Officer responsible for the operations of the portfolio companies within CVG Group’s holdings. In this role, he was the Acting COO for Ebony Media Operations, (“Ebony Media”) where he was responsible for initiating and overseeing the digital transformation of Ebony Media from a print publication to a digital-first organization. Prior to CVG Group and Ebony Media, he worked for the largest retail electricity provider within the United States, NRG Energy, from 2005 to 2016, in positions of progressively increasing scope and responsibility. While at NRG Energy, he built multiple revenue streams through digital, retail and business development activities while increasing overall revenue to NRG Energy, where he represented approximately 40% of new revenue of NRG Energy Home division. Mr. Walker brings nearly 20 years of experience building relationships and revenue generating operations for Fortune 500 corporations, working in business development and marketing for Deloitte, and startup organizations. Throughout his career, Mr. Walker has sat on multiple advisory boards within the industry, such as Hitwise and Dentsu Aegis, and has written multiple articles and case studies that have been showcased in Jupiter Research and Search Engine Watch. Mr. Walker holds a B.A. in Economics from The University of Texas and was a member of the Board of Directors of the University of Texas Alumni Association.
President and Director
Mr. Smith is a co-founder of the Company and became our President on August 23, 2021 and, from 2018 until the completion of the Organizational Transactions, served in the role of Managing Partner of the Company. Prior to founding Direct Digital Holdings, Mr. Smith was a Managing Partner at Parkview Advisors, LLC, and President and CEO of Parkview Capital Credit, Inc., from November 2014 to April 2020, where he invested and managed more than $75 million with small-and mid-sized businesses to provide acquisition and growth capital. Prior to Parkview, Mr. Smith served as Managing Director for a private equity, direct lending platform, Capital Point Partners, where he invested and managed more than $150 million in direct lending first lien, second lien and mezzanine investments, as well as complimentary minority equity investments. Prior to Capital Point Partners, he worked for Rabobank International (“RI”) from 2006 to 2009, where he was a Vice President and Portfolio Manager of more than $2 billion in direct lending and structured credit bank assets for one of the company’s special investment vehicles. He played a key role in originating new client transactions as well as managing a book of existing bank clients. Prior to RI, he was an Associate Director in the Structured Finance Group of Standard & Poor’s from 2003 to 2006, where he analyzed and rated transactions across a broad spectrum of asset types. In addition to his investment banking background, Mr. Smith also has over six years of legal experience as an attorney and has served on the boards of numerous portfolio companies. Mr. Smith holds a B.A. in Economics from The University of Texas at Austin; a J.D. from Southern Methodist University; and an M.B.A. from The Olin School of Business at Washington University in St. Louis.
Chief Financial Officer
Susan Echard became our Chief Financial Officer in May 2021 while serving as a consultant at SeatonHill LLC (“SeatonHill”), where she was employed from February 2021 until joining the Company as a full time employee in January 2022. Prior to SeatonHill, Ms. Echard served as the Chief Financial Officer at Trinity Capital Inc., a Business Development Corporation, and, in such capacity, was responsible for all aspects of the firm’s financial matters, investor relations, legal and human resource management. Prior to joining Trinity, Ms. Echard served as the Chief Financial Officer at CUBEX LLC, a medical, dental and veterinary inventory management company, from 2017 to 2019. From 2016 to 2017, she served as the Chief Financial Officer at Datashield, a data security services company, and from 2015 to 2016, she served as the Corporate Controller at BeyondTrust, a provider of privileged access and identity management and data security. Prior to that, she served as Corporate Controller at AFS Technologies, Inc., a provider of software solutions for consumer goods companies, from 2014 to 2015, and was formerly a senior auditor at Ernst & Young LLP. Ms. Echard has over 30 years of accounting experience. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Michigan.
Chief Technology Officer
Anu Pillai was named Chief Technology Officer of Direct Digital Holdings in March 2021. Ms. Pillai brings extensive experience in defining and executing new product development solutions as well as large enterprise IT implementations and has successfully led global projects with complete responsibility for cross-functional teams in program management, product design, software development, system architecture, integration and implementation. Prior to serving at Digital Direct Holdings, Ms. Pillai held executive positions and led digital transformations at several companies, including BLK/OPL, a direct-to-consumer e-commerce cosmetic brand, from 2019 to 2021, where she served as SVP, Digital Technology & Ecommerce, and Ebony Media, publisher of the iconic EBONY magazine, from 2011 to 2019, where she served as SVP, Digital Technology & Monetization. She was responsible at both of these companies for the execution of all technology and digital initiatives including system design and architecture, development, project management, resource planning of onsite/offshore resources and monetization across all digital properties with specific emphasis on increasing revenues through various programmatic channels. Prior to that, Ms. Pillai held leadership roles with leading Fortune 50 technology and infrastructure companies, such as General Electric, from 2005 to 2007, where she served as an IT leaser; Intel Corporation, from 2000 to 2003, where she served as a Senior Software Engineer; and Motorola, from 1996 to 1998, where she served as an analyst, and we believe she has proven experience in managing and leading small and large global development teams with technology resources spread across the U.S., China, Mexico and India. Ms. Pillai holds a B.S. in Computer Science and Engineering from Bharathiar in India.