Unacast is thrilled to introduce Adam Slackman, our new VP of Sales, who joins us from Mastercard, where he was the Vice President of Retail & Commerce. Our CEO, Thomas Walle, sat down with Adam for a conversation about his deep experience with bringing data products to market, his perspective on the location data industry, and how he’ll help shape the future of Unacast.
Thomas Walle: Let me be the first to extend a warm Unacast welcome! We’re honored to have you on board. Let’s kick off with a bit of a tough question: Mastercard is one of the best-known and prestigious companies out there. What inspired you to make the leap?
Adam Slackman: Oh that’s easy — Unacast’s people, products, and company vision. In several of my previous roles, part of my job was to help bring those three things into alignment. But here, they’re already aligned; that’s what’s going to grease the wheels for us to answer some truly important questions about how and why humans move around the world. And, even better, there’s a palpable hunger in the marketplace for the kinds of innovative products Unacast is developing. With a company all rowing in the same direction towards a market that’s clearly on fire, I think we’ll be able to push location data further than it’s ever gone before. I’m super pumped to be a part of it.
Thomas: The first time we met, you told me, “Data is in my DNA.” What do you mean by that?
Adam: I guess you could say I was into data before it was cool! I started my career at Experian, selling relational databases and advanced analytics — these were the early days, and “big data” wasn’t a household name yet. No smart phones, no social media, it was before all that really exploded. Experian acquired Footfall in 2006, and that’s when I first sensed the potential in the overlap of the digital and physical worlds. When I was promoted to lead the US efforts, my team was able to convince a lot of retailers to start counting their visitors, benchmarking their in-store conversion rates, and adding those metrics to their marketing databases. This was basically the beginning of advertising attribution. For the first time, brands were able to measure the ROI on their omnichannel marketing efforts. I’ve been riding that wave ever since.
Thomas: And a whole new industry was born! That’s gonna be hard to top.
Adam: I don’t think it will, because I see my role at Unacast as the next chapter in that same story. Let me explain. For a while now the industry’s “holy grail” has been about using data to show a complete consumer journey. Until recently, we’ve primarily been able to look at part of the story. For example, you can get all the data you want about online purchases — but that still doesn’t tell you much about how people shop offline, in the physical world. What’s exciting about mobility data is that it fills in those gaps. And where Unacast really leads the pack is that they recognize the truly limitless insights that a true digital/physical blend can unlock. And not just for retailers; there are neighborhoods, cities, and whole industries that stand to be transformed by this kind of work, and that’s what I’ve come here to do.
Thomas: But there are lots of companies in the location data space. Why us?
Adam: It comes down to two things: the people and the values. Unacast is a remarkable team, made up of subject matter experts from industries that have the most to gain from location intelligence. At the same time, the company’s Norweigian heart really comes through in the way that Unacast values transparency, privacy, and collaboration. I started seeing this in action, in our commercial engagements, on Day 1. While our competitors offer a low-touch, sometimes “black box” approach, our multi-disciplinary team is consultative. In other words, we don’t just use data to find answers; we partner with clients to understand and define the questions too. I used this approach in several of my previous jobs, and I can tell you for sure that it’s the best way to get actionable intelligence on almost any location-related challenge you can imagine. Planning modern cities, tracking the spread of infectious diseases, optimizing real estate decisions, developing brand partnerships... it’s all within reach because of our people-first values.
Thomas: You forgot one of our most important values! And that’s “Have fun, seriously!” — we truly believe that the right balance of work and fun keeps our people at the top of their game. So what do you do for fun?
Adam: Besides being a die-hard Yankees fan? A few years ago I started taking pictures of street art here in New York. Chelsea, where I lived at the time, was a hotbed for emerging artists and I was able to capture photos of their work before the city, or eager collectors, took it down. I still follow the scene (you can see some of my pictures at Street Art & Friends on Facebook and Instagram) but I’ve recently become really enamored with the idea of using location technologies to document this artform. Part of what makes street art so cool is its impermanence, but there’s still a ton of value in mapping it for future viewers — so in that way, it’s not that different from human mobility data!
Thomas: That’s all we have time for today. Thank you so much Adam, and again, welcome!
Adam: No, thank you. I’m so happy to be here!