Issuu Lands Merkel, Ex-Google Mobile Exec

Former Google executive Jeff Merkel has joined digital publishing platform Issuu as chief revenue officer. In that role, he will focus on building new mobile and technology partnerships for the Palo Alto-based company and accelerating revenue growth.

Most recently, Merkel was director, Android global partnerships, at Google, overseeing strategy, execution planning and the sales organization for Android-based products. He has also served as director, APAC partnerships, and head of global mobile sales at the company.

Merkel joined Google in May 2010, when the company acquired mobile ad firm AdMob, where he was vice president and GM of Asia Pacific. Before that, he was director of media solutions for Motorola and a marketing manager at Apple.

The hiring is part of a broader effort by Issuu to bolster its leadership after moving its headquarters from Copenhagen, where it was founded in 2006, to Palo Alto, Calif., last year. In 2013, it brought on entrepreneur Joe Hyrkin as CEO and named Bradley Horowitz, Google’s product vice president to its board.

The company helps print publishers create magazine-style versions of their content online and in mobile. In an interview, Scott Kinzie, vice president of marketing, at Issuu, said the platform now has 16 million publications uploading content and 83 million unique active users worldwide. It makes money both by charging companies for higher-level publishing features, as well as through advertising.

While the vast majority of companies using Issuu are niche publishers, it also works with some well-known brands including The New York Times, Huffington Post, Nascar, Vice and Armani. While people can access content through the Issuu home page and their Android and Windows apps, it also allows publishers to embed its media player within their own sites.

FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, for instance, includes a digital replica of its official weekly magazine on its Web site through a custom Issuu embed. Readers can flip through the pages by clicking arrows (or swiping in mobile), and can enlarge pages to full-size online with a click.

The ability to distribute rich, digital magazines and catalogs across Web sites is something that sets Issuu apart from popular newsreader apps like Flipboard, according to Scott.  Overall traffic for Issuu content is split about evenly between the desktop Web and mobile devices, he noted.

For his part, Merkel says he was intrigued by Issuu’s publishing model and growing scale. He plans to help further expand the company’s roster of high-profile brands and develop new ad options and native formats. He also wants to contribute to building out Issuu’s mobile presence as the audience on devices expands.

Issuu historically has not had an iPhone app, after having Apple reject its app submission multiple times in the past. But the company this week said getting on the iOS platform is still part of its roadmap.

Issuu to date has received $11.5 million in funding from Sunstone Capital.

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