Boosting brands' revenues and managing millions of customer accounts, Gene Hoffman's firm Vindicia takes number-crunching to the next level.
The term 'industry veteran' is much overused. But when it comes to Gene Hoffman, if anything it's an understatement. The CEO of Vindicia, a company that manages marketing, subscriptions and billing for online businesses, started his first company in 1995, aged 20. PrivNet, the internet privacy firm he co-founded, was bought by PGP.
In 1998, the self-confessed serial entrepreneur moved on to his next venture, eMusic, and headed it until 2001, when it was bought by media conglomerate Vivendi Universal. "We saw a huge opportunity in digital music," he says, noting that eMusic was the "first to cross that chasm" from physical to electronic distribution. "You were competing with free: with piracy," he recalls.
The digital music business, though, remained tough. Apple, he says, had inbuilt advantages. Not only was Steve Jobs able to use his industry contacts to ensure the support of record labels, but he also had a captive audience in the shape of iPod (and later iPhone) users. At the other end of the spectrum, services such as eMusic had to compete with file-sharing and download sites such as the then illegal Napster...