mParticle’s Michael Katz says the company’s early struggles were a ‘blessing’

By Anthony Ha and Lacey Wisdom

“Katz is a legend.”

That’s how Eniac Ventures co-founder Nihal Mehta explained his eagerness to meet with Michael Katz eight years ago, and why he didn’t hesitate to invest in Katz’s then-new startup mParticle.

After all, the man had already taken his first company Interclick public, and it was ultimately sold to Yahoo.

Fast forward to 2021 and mParticle has just announced a $150 million Series E led by Permira’s growth fund. So we asked Katz to join us for the latest episode of Eniac Extras.

He explained that the company’s data infrastructure helps consumer brands “accelerate time to data value” and “solve the foundational challenges that they have with respect to executing their digital strategy.”

The idea, apparently, came from his time at Yahoo, where he found that anytime he wanted user data that went beyond standard web analytics, “Nobody had any answers … It was like this dark pool of data.” And of course, the need for those answers has only grown with the explosion in usage on smartphones and smart TVs.

Our conversation wasn’t limited to mParticle’s product and strategy. Katz also shared some of the lessons he’s learned as a longtime entrepreneur. For one thing, he suggested that “if you’re going to lead people, you have to like people, and you have to understand people.”

“You’re going to have a lot of different people from a lot of different walks of life and different backgrounds, and you have to look at things through the lens of empathy,” he continued. “If you can do that and you can blend that with accountability, more often than not, you’re going to be successful.”

Katz was also candid about some of the struggles he faced during mParticle’s journey, with the company taking longer to find commercial success than he initially expected. He recalled an early conversation with Nihal in which he admitted, “Man, we came out hot. I think we just got a little bit ahead of ourselves and were a little bit overconfident.”

And yet Katz now sees those moments of grounding and self-doubt as a blessing.

“When you have the opportunity to face adversity, and to do it with the courage and conviction that you need to stay calm and keep going, it builds a lot of confidence,” he said.

You can watch more highlights from our interview in the video above.

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