Charles Morgan On Life, Data, Entrepreneurship And Jeff Ubben

by Talk Business & Politics staff ( 81 views 

Charles Morgan, the longtime leader of database giant Acxiom, served as its iconic CEO for decades. He’s now got his fingers in a number of new entrepreneurial adventures and most recently, he’s written his memoir, “Matters of Life and Data – The Remarkable Journey Of A Big Data Visionary Whose Work Impacted Millions (Including You).”

Morgan sat down for a one-on-one with Talk Business & Politics Editor-in-Chief Roby Brock to discuss what isn’t a “dull business book.” The memoir is more than just a biography – it’s a combination of Evel Knievel meets James Bond meets Bill Gates.

The book features stories of Morgan’s childhood and pre-Acxiom life as well as the starts and failures the company had in its early days in Conway. There are rich details of his personal life, including a challenging marriage, motorcycle and auto racing, and ventures in Saudi Arabia.

Morgan said he wanted to write the book for closure, especially after the “thankless ending” he said came to his tenure with Acxiom.

“So many people have asked me what happened. I’ve had these comments over the years – ‘I heard that you all had bad times and good times, I heard the stories about your divorce, I heard all these things and I’d sure like to know more,'” Morgan said on writing the book.

He also paints an unflattering picture of private equity firm principal Jeff Ubben of ValueAct, who led hostile takeover bids for Acxiom from 2005-2007 and who had plenty to do with Morgan’s ouster from the company he led for 35 years.

“A lot of people have asked about Jeff Ubben. Tell me what kind of guy was he? Let me tell you on this show – you want me to tell you what kind of guy he is? He’s an asshole!” Morgan said.

Morgan occupies his time these days in a variety of endeavors. For starters, he’s hip-deep with two Conway-based technology companies, PrivacyStar and Inuvo.

PrivacyStar has a sophisticated phone app to block unwanted calls and provide other services to customers. Morgan says the privately-held company has been in the black for more than 15 months and he sees revenue in the $13-$14 million range this year.

Inuvo, a small publicly traded company that develops consumer applications for the Internet and delivers targeted advertisements onto websites, is also performing well.

Morgan is looking for programmers and bright young technology talent.

“If any superstar, young programmer is looking at me right now and saying, ‘I want to get on a fast track to go to some exciting place,’ come see me,” he said.

Morgan’s other notably large investment involves a luxury golf resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico known as Querencia.

What does he think about the world of big data today? What’s his impression of Acxiom’s current financial performance? And what’s his take on the burgeoning entrepreneurial scene that is sprouting in Central and Northwest Arkansas?

Watch his full, unedited take below.

Also, Morgan will be doing a fireside chat on March 3rd at the Arkansas Venture Center in downtown Little Rock. There will be cocktails and a book signing that evening. Click here to learn more.