The Download: David Spitz, CEO, ChannelAdvisor

Portraits of ChannelAdvisor's Senior Leadership Team in Morrisville, NC on Wednesday, January 25, 2017. (Justin Cook)

David is responsible for leading Morrisville’s ChannelAdvisor, a publicly traded e-commerce company, in its mission to provide retailers and branded manufacturers with the software and services needed to successfully sell their products via online sales channels.

Before joining ChannelAdvisor, David founded and successfully exited multiple venture-backed software companies. He was most recently an entrepreneur-in-residence at Durham’s Aurora Funds, a venture capital firm with more than $200 million under management (which is no longer making new investments). Prior to Aurora, David was president of Avesair, a mobile marketing company that was acquired by Inphonic. Previous to Avesair, David was co-founder and CTO of Netsation, a network management software company acquired by Nortel Networks.

David received a Bachelor of Computer Science from the University of California, San Diego.

David was awarded the Triangle Business Journal’s 2010 CFO of the Year Award. In 2008, he received the Triangle Business Journal’s Top 40 under 40 award. David has also been awarded four U.S. patents. He has been a chairman of the board for the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics Foundation as well as for the North Carolina Council for Entrepreneurial Development.

1. What is in your pockets?
Pretty standard. I got car keys, wallet and phone, nothing too exciting. Even in my wallet I try to always minimize the number of cards as I like to travel light.

2. What exciting thing has happened recently for you or your organization?
The recent holiday season was exciting at ChannelAdvisor because it is when everybody is busy shopping and we get to see the volumes really pick up. One of the interesting things we’ve seen in recent years is the pulling forward of the holiday season. If you think back to just a decade ago, online shopping really kicked into gear in the holidays on what became known as Cyber Monday, because everybody was coming back from the Thanksgiving holiday and were back to work and had their high-speed internet. You could see that the transaction volumes really kicked in around midday on that Monday, but then smartphones really changed the world.

What we now see is more and more volume shipping earlier to Black Friday, and this year was no different because now people can basically shop wherever they are, on their phones, even if they are on vacation. And what was interesting this year is that we saw a real pick-up in volume the day before Thanksgiving compared to last year, which is about as early as we’ve seen the holiday season really kick into gear. Overall it’s a lot of fun at ChannelAdvisor because we keep a minute-by-minute eye on all of our systems and dashboards to make sure that we are delivering a seamless and successful holiday for our customers.

3. What is your favorite coffee spot?
Man that is easy for me.  It is Sola Coffee Cafe in North Raleigh.  It is family-owned, really eclectic and in my view not only has the best coffee and good food, but it’s got an atmosphere that is really awesome and comfortable and it draws you in and keeps you there.  A really great place. I wish they were open on Sundays.

4. What keeps you up at night?
We are in the e-commerce and internet space in general, which is always changing really rapidly and a lot of the things that are true today probably won’t be true in five years.  We were just talking about smartphones and a lot of people forget that the iPhone was released literally 10 years ago. The introduction of smartphones changed everything so in the last few years after smartphones, it’s really been in our industry about the seemingly unstoppable rise of Amazon.

Going forward we think that e-commerce will shift considerably towards brands and manufacturers going more direct-to-consumer so there’s a lot of changing things, like always, in our industry and it’s our job to stay on top of all of these trends and be nimble on behalf of our customers.  We don’t have to get everything exactly right but we better be pretty close or we’ll be irrelevant. So I spend a lot of my time thinking about this—sometimes in the middle of the night—and making sure we are doing the right thing for our customers.

5. What is your favorite restaurant or happy hour?
We really like Margaux’s Restaurant in North Raleigh. My wife and I go there almost every Saturday night and have been since they opened up more than 20 years ago.  The food and the service are always exemplary and at this point we feel like we’re part of the family when we go. At Margaux’s we never bother with reservations. They have a bar area with the little table tops and we just love to pop in and have a quick meal.  I don’t know how many times we’ve been there over the last 20 years but it’s a lot.  I’m almost embarrassed to say they know our preferences very, very well.

We also really like Poole’s Diner in downtown Raleigh.  I feel like Raleigh has really perked up as a foodie scene in the last decade and we love going down there and exploring what’s new.

6. What is next for you or your organization?
We actually recently rolled out our strategic framework and it’s comprised of three pillars. The first is continuing to grow our core business that got us to where we are; No. 2, significantly expanding our indirect sales efforts; and No. 3, driving more of our business towards brands and manufacturers.  Like I  said earlier, we think more and more e-commerce will be driven by brands and manufacturers going more direct and we want to be there to help them with all of the knowledge that we’ve gained over the 17 years we’ve been in business; we want to help brands do that.

The ChannelAdvisor team in their regular work clothes…oops, being told that’s Halloween.

Underlying all of that is continuing to recruit the best people that we can. We have over 700 employees worldwide from the US to Europe and Australia and China. I’m really proud of how everyone comes to work every day to make a difference for our customers and grow their careers with us. It is a real privilege to work with all of them.

The reality is that very few companies can do everything by themselves.  Brands are very good at developing products that consumers want and understanding those trends, but they don’t necessarily have a core competence in technology and the internet and how to keep up with that rapidly changing landscape, and that’s what we’re good at. We can help them create their e-commerce channels and reach hundreds of millions of consumers wherever those consumers want to shop.  That’s really what’s important to us: helping our customers get their products in front of consumers where those consumers want to shop.

About Brooks Malone 106 Articles
Brooks Malone is a NC CPA and Partner with Hughes Pittman & Gupton, LLP, and leads the Technology practice group. Brooks is also listed contributor to the National Fast Trac Tech Curriculum that was funded by the Kauffman Foundation. Brooks was named one of the 40 Under 40 in May 2005 by the TBJ, received the Outstanding service to Entrepreneurs Award in 2008 by CED, and named to the Leadership Raleigh Hall of Fame in October 2011. Brooks is a graduate of North Carolina State University and is active at American Underground and Raleigh Founded.