Mano Pillai sold the company he cofounded, Nikaza, in August 2020 to Stirista for an undisclosed sum, and this month joined LiveIntent as chief product officer, as the company prepares for a post-cookie future.
“I will help build the next generation of identity when cookies are gone,” Pillai said. “Let’s assume cookies are not available -- you help publishers take advantage of their first-party data.”
The ad industry might deprecate cookies, but that doesn't mean brands and publishers need to treat customers as strangers, he said. There are ways to improve on the experience, and this year he plans to focus on building a framework that protects privacy and supports publishers and brands.
Pillai’s company Nikaza built technology that joined the online with the offline world, integrating identity data with physical-location data to determine foot traffic in different locations.
That experience, combined with working at Neustar, landed him the position at LiveIntent leading the company’s product division.
Pillai also has experience working at many of the foundational companies that formed the backbone of the internet, which allowed companies to do business online. He worked at AddThis, which Oracle acquired in 2016; AOL; Netscape Communications; and CyberCash, one of the first electronic payment systems.
Now he leads of team of about nine people to help to support the framework and an API allowing any publisher or marketer with CRM data or first-party cookies to connect to the ecosystem that works best for their company.
Pillai’s career path evolved in an unexpected way. His father worked as a college professor, and he planned to take the same path.
“I never thought I’d be doing what I do today,” he said.
When asked to cite the best advice a business colleague gave him, Pillai instead cited a quote traced back to Thomas Edison: "a vision without an execution is a hallucination."
As the advertising industry begins to transition to the next phase of ad tracking, Pillai’s strategy for the year focuses on building a bridge for brands and publishers.