In this edition of Creator Chat, we're excited to introduce you to Jeff Lortz, our new CEO. Jeff joins after having served in senior executive roles in private equity-backed SaaS companies including Acoustic (as SVP), and TOMIA (as COO), as well as taken companies public like Everbridge (as VP of Corporate Strategy & Operations), and Bladelogic (as VP of Global Services).
During his career, Jeff has guided companies that were small and gearing up for their next stages of growth, where he steered them into global multi-billion dollar enterprises. Making significant connections and being a part of astounding business development teams along the way.
We interviewed Jeff to learn more about him, his accomplishments, and what he envisions for the future of Creator by Zmags.
Tell us a bit more about your background and career accomplishments?
Honestly, I've had a lot of luck throughout my career. I've worked with incredible and successful teams. I've driven a small, private, under-performing company to achieve its potential and become a billion-dollar public corporation. I learned how to optimize, manage, and lead various groups of people that kickoff startups, manage through hyper-growth as market disruptors, and take them public. It's hard to pinpoint one accomplishment when it's not one moment in time; it's a story of a company and the driven dedication of teams that achieve incredible feats within a business. With these experiences comes a powerful network of some of the best operators in high tech on whom I can lean to help me and Creator by Zmags succeed.
What first drew you to Creator by Zmags?
The first thing was the opportunity to work with the executives from Everbridge, who transitioned from operators to investors and established a private equity fund called Akmazo. Not only was I excited to work with leaders that I respect, but also lead an organization developing an amazing technology poised to disrupt the digital experience platform space.
What has been your priority during the first 30 days at Creator by Zmags?
My first priority was to understand the business and the second is to really get to know the team. We have a diverse spectrum of folks with interesting backgrounds and a dichotomy between tenured experience and enthusiastic new people, blended into a single culture that is focused on growth. So, my focus has been to get to know the people, their roles and work on how we will position ourselves next year. I want to focus on driving our customers to achieve better results so that they can grow, and organize our team to attack the market more aggressively.
How would you describe the Creator platform?
The Creator platform is a tool that is remarkably easy to use, which is a part of its power. It bridges the gap between creative and technical people and empowers the people in the middle, the ones who have to execute the work, to not only do their job better but faster and take their digital marketing to the next level.
Teams can take creative input easily and transform that into dynamic, interactive, and engaging content that can be published in minutes. The impact within eCommerce is huge. Our tech engages customers and drives them to make purchases. Creator is a powerful tool in any toolbox as it gives marketers the ability to not only publish, but to actually control, manage, and optimize their content to produce the best returns from an engagement and sales perspective.
What has been your biggest challenge at Creator by Zmags so far?
I think it's being able to articulate our value proposition in a clear way. Once you get someone in front of Creator and demonstrate, it speaks for itself. But as a brand, developing a single impactful sentence that speaks to the entire marketplace is tough. Our brand awareness and market presence are small right now so our biggest challenge is expanding our reach. The technology has evolved in leaps and bounds from when the company was first established and we have been working with some of the top retail brands to imagine what is possible and develop a platform ready to completely disrupt the digital experience platform market space.
What other business leaders do you look up to/respect?
I have a lot of respect for our chairman, Jamie Ellertson, who was my former CEO at Everbridge. He's very involved and his input is incredibly important and he's not afraid to share it - which is great! His experience buying and growing companies is really critical.
I also really look up to Dev Ittycheria, who I worked for at BladeLogic, and now runs MongoDB. Then there's John McMahon who is a legendary sales leader and someone whose advice and direction I value. I have been fortunate to work for some great companies which create a network of amazing people.
What is the hardest part of being the CEO?
This is my first time as a CEO and I'm energized by the challenge, but it can be nerve-wracking knowing that the buck stops with me. I am learning a lot as I go, and have some of the best SaaS operators as close advisors in Akmazo.
In your opinion, what makes a great leader?
Great leadership starts with a vision, the ability to describe it to your team and motivate them. I also think a great leader is able to take a step back and trust the team to execute it. Driving them towards clear and aggressive goals and supporting them throughout the process.
Okay, now for the tough questions...
We are enthusiastic about creating a culture where everyone can express who they are and be their authentic selves. While talking to Jeff about his career is interesting and provides insight into the company's future, we decided to ask a few fun questions to get to know him a little better.
What animal are you most like?
A cat because I'm quiet, smart, and a little wily.
If Creator by Zmags was an animal, what would it be?
I think it would be easier to say which animal it will become in the near future, and that's a lion - King of the Jungle.
What is your biggest fear?
Well, I think as this is my first opportunity to be CEO my current biggest fear is failure. Even though I'm confident that I won't fail because I have so much expertise and support backing to draw upon.
If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
If you asked me a couple of years ago I traveled a lot so I would have said to be able to teleport. I love going places, but I hate the wasted time it takes to travel. But now, after a few years without being able to go on trips, I just want to travel.
What is your favorite book?
I read a lot in the self-improvement genre and my most recent read wasAtomic Habitsby James Clear.
And the final question, what's your long-term vision for Creator by Zmags?
Today we're a relatively small company, with a marvelous history that started with publishing digital magazines that has undergone an incredible technology transformation which has put us at the center of the most dynamic market, eCommerce. There's ample opportunity and I'm excited to drive the company forward to reach its full potential. The technology is extraordinary and we're going to make our mark within the market relatively quickly.