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The Road to Palm Springs


Brian O’Kelley, CEO
Mike Nolet, CTO


The motto of AppNexus co-founders Brian O’Kelley and Mike Nolet is “to build a business that won’t be forgotten,” and they have set out to “build a great company, not just a great product.” To do this, they offer their team great resources and a strong infrastructure, and they have surrounded themselves with a passionate and ethical group of executives and influential investors.

After starting AppNexus in their early 30s, both concede to their youthful inexperience leading them to make “traditional” mistakes. Since then they have hired a team of executives and created a more diverse, team-focused environment. Now their focus is to encourage their team to be creative. One motivational technique they use is “Razzle Dazzle Wednesday,” where the entire company shares lunch and a team member project presentation. These weekly events allow employees to openly communicate with each other and show examples of successes and failures. There are also regular lunch and learn sessions, tech talks and, every Friday, a Family Lunch. These events encourage an entrepreneurial environment that boasts a minimal turnover rate. This generosity extends into the community; Brian founded the Eugene International High School alumni fund to fund international trips for high school students to visit developing nations.

To this day, Brian and Mike do not see any direct competitors of AppNexus and its real-time advertising technology. There are some competitors who have targeted specific aspects of their business, but as evidenced by AppNexus’ significant growth in revenue, their customers keep coming back and new customers appreciate the competitive advantage created by the AppNexus platform.