Chen Amit has joined supplier of payment automation platform Tipalti (Hebrew for ‘done/I have handled’) as CEO with vast experience as a high-tech executive and serial entrepreneur, but with almost no knowledge of the payments or ad-tech ecosystem. Following Tipalti’s recent partnership deal with LinkTrust, a digital marketing tracking solutions provider, Finance Magnates sat down with Mr Amit to hear his views on the market.
Please tell about yourself and how you reached your current role
I’ve been a geek and entrepreneur my whole life. Most recently before Tipalti I was a CEO of a telecom equipment company that was sold to Nokia-Siemens. About a year after the sale, a friend from business school reached out to me and told me about an ad-tech company he was the chairman of. The founder of that company was struggling with payments to publishers. We met with that founder and the challenges he presented intrigued me.
In terms of engineering resources Israel is great. It’s almost as hard to find excellent people as it is in the Silicon Valley
I should explain that I had no payments, ad-tech, or business process software experience, which in many ways made me an ideal fit to try and solve the problem. It meant that I could approach all three with a clean slate view with no prejudices or baggage and apply a very untainted engineer’s approach. The result is that Tipalti breaks down many of the technical and operational barriers in supplier payments – a disrupter if you will – and becomes the basis for solving many problems that have been plaguing the accounts payable space for decades.
What are your goals for the company in the next few years?
We’ve developed a deep and growing base of awesome customers (Amazon, Twitter, GoPro, GoDaddy, as well as dozens of emerging companies). Our customer retention is near perfect. So really, now is the time for rapid growth. We’ll be focusing on that in the coming few years: growing the company, getting the word out, and helping more and more businesses solve their supplier payment operations problems – and of course – continuing to enrich the platform with more functionality and value.
Where do you find offers a better ecosystem for fintech firms, Israel or Silicon Valley?
In terms of engineering resources Israel is great. It’s almost as hard to find excellent people as it is in the Silicon Valley, but we actually have a considerable amount of brand awareness where developers want to work for us. As far as an ecosystem, I would say the Silicon Valley is more complete, where there are more relevant partners, banks, and other payment companies all looking to solve the many areas of fintech.
Why do you think Israel has become such a powerhouse in AdTech?
AdTech offers a great fit for an Israeli entrepreneur because of a very adaptable business model:
· Sales are 100% remote/online and is B2B
· Volume is highly scalable – so you can start small, with little resources, and grow fast
For Israeli entrepreneur, it’s a great setup as they can start lean, maintain a worldwide presence from Israel, and expand. Many indeed attempted to serve this market. Many succeeded.
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Having said that, Israel is just a vibrant tech space. It’s home to many fintech companies, car-tech companies, etc.
I see that you are working with SeekingAlpha. How did this partnership come about?
SeekingAlpha is customer #3, and have been with Tipalti since 2011. At the time I was looking for confirmation that the problem we were solving was real and was looking for any lead that could confirm or disprove it. Oren Zeev, my co-founder, was introduced to the former CTO of SeekingAlpha, who introduced us to the team there. It so happened that they just learnt about new tax compliance demands they need to comply with, and were thinking how to solve that problem. Even though I was a one-person company at the time, I apparently left the correct impression and they signed up for Tipalti, which at the time was still very new and unproven.
Many networks are trying to scale efficiently and the only way to do that is through either hiring many people or automating
What are the most important issues regarding payments for publishers, affiliates and partners in the online industry?
For the affiliate/ad network, it’s about removing a significant resource burden, yet still providing best-in-class, best-practice operations. Many networks are trying to scale efficiently and the only way to do that is through either hiring many people or automating. In the first case, you still must deal with human error. So, what we offer is complete automation of all aspects of on-boarding, vetting, communicating and paying publishers. In addition, we add a lot of flexibility in terms of multiple payment methods and paying in local currency – which enhances the relationship with elite partners who appreciate it.
Then, to ensure that proper accounting is happening, every payment is reconciled. Tipalti is doing that at scale. It’s just as easy to send one payment to a partner across the street as it is to send a thousand payments to 100 different countries. We take a very important part of the relationship with the suppliers, deliver it in the most professional way, while enabling senior staff to focus their resources on the business’s core competencies – sourcing ads, matching them, and generating good business for the parties involved.
For the publisher or affiliate, they need simple, clear processes. Globally speaking, there are challenges around payments, around language, around time-zones, around regulations, and communications. Tipalti offers them a smooth process for selecting the right payment method and currency for their locale, for completing very complex tax forms, and for being proactive in letting the publisher know when they can expect payment or how to self-service in case of a payment issue. We give them visibility, control, and confidence around the most sensitive and critical area of the network-partner relationship: getting paid.
Globally speaking, there are challenges around payments, around language, around time-zones, around regulations, and communications
You’ve recently announced an integration with LinkTrust – how has this been going so far?
We’re very excited about this relationship as we are with most of our integration partners. Tipalti is an excellent value to ensure both platforms stick with an organization. LinkTrust has a deep history with affiliates and networks, which they’ve grown organically and they are very much about “customer service” as it relates to affiliate loyalty. Over time, we expect that relationship to encourage more networks to improve the way they maintain affiliate partnerships.
What new fields or opportunities do you see as growth potential in the market?
While Tipalti is already solving many of the challenges finance teams face when managing suppliers and payments, there are still many challenges throughout the finance organization that could use an automated touch. We will be announcing some interesting functionality late Q2, early Q3. Stay tuned.