NP Digital appointed Mike Gullaksen to CEO, joining long-time business associate and friend Jeff Johnson, who serves as president at the San Diego-based performance agency. Gullaksen succeeds co-founder Mike Kamo in the role.
Gullaksen also has served as president and COO at iProspect, and SVP of search at iCrossing.
The pair have a long history working together that dates back to 2001. They worked together through 2014 as co-CEOs of Covario before Dentsu Aegis acquired the company.
Gullaksen’s proven leadership in performance marketing will help grow the company, while Kamo continues to support NP Digital as CEO of NP Brands, a sister company.
NP Digital, co-founded by Neil Patel in 2017, ranges in services from search and video, to content marketing and data and analytics.
Patel, Kamo and Johnson began “wooing” Gullaksen to join NP Digital at the end of 2019. A few weeks into 2020 Gullaksen reached an agreement to join the agency. “My trust factor with Jeff did it for me, but Neil’s also a very intriguing person,” he said.
When asked how it feels to work with Johnson again, Gullaksen said “it’s interesting, I can tell we both aged and matured over the years.”
It’s not easy taking the reins of an agency during chaos. Gullaksen joined Covario in 2009, following a steep downhill slide. “I had to start the agency at Covario, which was originally a software play,” he said. “I would rather start now to steward and guide the company and team. Who knows what decisions would be made if I wasn’t here. I would have liked to meet everyone in person, rather on a video call.”
It’s a challenging time, but it’s the best time to prove leadership skills. He said it is different than Sept. 11, feeling "shock and awe" as people watch the severity of the pandemic across the world.
“I’m not going to let this situation define who we are,” Gullaksen said. “I’m going to get us through it.”
About 65% of NP Digital’s revenue comes from SEO and content, and the remainder paid media and other services, which shielded the company from brands pulling back on budgets.
“We need to diversify our revenue and client base, but the good thing is the client base is largely B2B and software as a service,” he said. “We only had one travel client, which shut down completely.”
This time around, some companies that had to close their brick-and-mortar stores picked up the business online, he said.
“The goal for the year remains the same, which is diversifying the revenue by different channels outside of SCO and content, and beef up paid search and social,” he said. “I also want to focus on client satisfaction and get to know the team and have fun.”