The Silicon Review
In 2010, a group of affiliate marketing veterans founded Performance Horizon, today’s leading provider of SaaS solutions for partner marketing. The company enables customers to directly connect with their affiliates and marketing partners to dramatically increase customer acquisition and drive high margin revenues. Currently, the company’s platform drives $3B+ in advertiser top line revenues across 200,000 marketing partners in over 212 countries and territories.
Catching up with Malcolm Cowley, CEO
What drove this venture?
In 2010, enterprise brands were finding it increasingly difficult to manage disparate and fragmented partner marketing initiatives in a global marketplace that was full of potential.
We recognized that this was our chance to imagine new possibilities in this space and sought to better understand the frustrations and challenges that brands and partners had been experiencing. Three key findings emerged that helped us define our vision for the future for partner marketing:
Brands wanted to manage and connect with different types of marketing partners and affiliates at scale Brands wanted to understand and consume more data as well as have the flexibility to integrate more deeply with partners. Partners wanted to ingest more data to optimize and grow revenue more efficiently for brands
Can you talk about your product?
Our API-first partner marketing platform gives our clients and their partners unique solution to manage all aspects of running a partner marketing program. This ranges from efficient partner onboarding to clear visibility into performance with a single global view of partner data to automating reconciliation & partner payouts. With the Performance Horizon platform, brands can apply performance-based commercial models to virtually any partner, anywhere in the world. They can also reward their partners and affiliates more effectively to drive higher margin revenues through flexible commissioning based on highly granular data points.
Today, our SaaS platform is being used by over 150 Global 2000 companies, including 5 of the top 10 Fortune 500 companies. We empower our customers to develop their own partner marketing programs adapted to their unique needs.
What has changed for the company since it was founded?
We’re never satisfied with resting on our laurels and always stay focused on innovating - that will never change. What has, and continues to change, are consumer behaviors, their devices, and the channels they use along the path to conversion. It’s our mission to help our customers and their marketing partners to better serve consumers and ensure that we provide the support and technology they require.
What challenges did you face in your initial years? What can your peers learn from it?
Our extremely rapid scale and expansion over the past seven years has definitely made it challenging to manage multiple business units and geographies. We grew into a truly global company thanks to our customers, most of which are well-known, global businesses that have very high expectations for our products, technology, and support. Consistently exceeding these expectations is a challenge we tackle every day with the support of colleagues across our offices on four continents. The key takeaway here is there is no substitute for experience, so investing early in the right level of leadership as we scaled has paid for itself many times over.
‘It is difficult to start a venture, but far more difficult to maintain it’ - How would you and your team interpret this saying?
We consider accountability to be absolutely key. It’s one thing to say “this is what our technology provides,” but another to actually deliver consistently and well throughout the integration, deployment, migration and ongoing customer success stages. The passion to deliver on our promises to customers runs deep in our company culture, which is key to maintaining our long-term partnerships.
Can you talk about the factors that have contributed to your product popularity and consistent growth as an organization?
Many businesses focus first on what they have to sell instead of what problem they’re solving for their customer. We strive to listen carefully to customers and potential customers so that we understand their challenges and goals and work hard to deliver a product or service that meets and needs their expectations. Secondly, it’s important to build and foster a company culture that prizes growth. When you empower employees to think big and make bold decisions, you’ll be surprised at the innovation that can happen.
What challenges are on the horizon?
We are very excited about finding innovative ways to help our customers grow their business. Right now, we are looking into how customers can use their data more effectively. One initiative focuses around tying sales and conversions across all channels—not just online—back to the marketing partners’ activities. Correctly understanding the contribution of key marketing partners to a customer’s revenues is very important and allows both companies to work more closely together to further top line revenue growth. A second initiative centers on how applying artificial intelligence capabilities to provide our customers with predictive insights as well as support to refine decision-making.
The man behind the Venture
Malcolm Cowley, CEO / Founder: Malcolm is a successful entrepreneur who oversees all aspects of the company’s global growth. After establishing a successful background in the affiliate marketing space, Malcolm understood the shifting landscape and had a vision to change how brands use technology to manage their own affiliate and partner marketing programs.