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CEO Experience with Kevin O'Connor

Kevin O’Connor has over 30 years of experience in high tech, both as an entrepreneur and investor. Kevin was the founder, CEO, and chairman of internet advertisement-technology giant, DoubleClick, which was acquired by Google in 2007 for $3.1 billion.

Kevin is currently the CEO of Graphiq (acquired by Amazon in 2017), a technology company whose mission is to drastically simplify the process of accessing the world's knowledge. Graphiq turns complicated data into vivid and contextually-rich visualizations and knowledge products. 

Kevin also runs O’Connor Ventures, from which he has invested in companies such as Internet Security Systems, Procore,, HotJobs, and MeetUp.

Kevin grew up in Michigan.  He attended the University of Michigan, where he obtained a Bachelors of Science degree in electrical engineering. 


Here are the takeaways from the discussion with Kevin O’Connor:


1.      First order of business at every company is establishing the “why not us” mentality with the team.  In all of his companies as well as tenure as wrestling coach, Kevin has consciously sought to achieve this objective so that his employees knew they would be at the vanguard and they were the only ones standing in their way.  Why shouldn’t we be the best?

2.      Five Gotta Do’s.  Kevin believes an important part of his job description as CEO is constantly defining the five most important objectives of the company; and ensuring the team operates and prioritizes in alignment with the five gotta do’s.  

3.      Hire “smart, happy athletes.”  In assessing “smart,” Kevin doesn’t assign a lot of value to where someone went to college.  He’s happy to hire someone from Washington University in St. Louis over Stanford.  Regarding “athlete,” O’Connor looks for people with high winning expectations from themselves.  And lastly, life is too short to hire unhappy people. 

Earlier Event: April 26
CEO Experience with Peter Nolan