Bill Sussman, president and CEO of global shopper marketing agency Collective Bias in Rogers since June 2013, has resigned. His final day was Dec. 31.
Sussman, 47, has been hired as the new president and CEO of Supplier Community, a Bentonville consulting firm launched last year that serves as a resource center for retailers and suppliers. Company founder Matt Fifer will transition to the role of board chairman.
“Bill has a rare combination of retailer/supplier/service provider experience that our community will really relate to”, Fifer said in a statement. “His strong general management experience and track record with hyper-growth businesses like Collective Bias and Triad Retail Media will fuel our success as we continue to build our scale to serve the Northwest Arkansas and other retailer supplier markets.”
Before joining Collective Bias, Sussman was vice president of retail development and marketing for Nickelodeon, leading the consumer products business for Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club for two years.
He also led the Wal-Mart/Sam’s Club account for Tampa-based digital marketing agency Triad Retail Media from 2007 to 2011. Sussman also led U.S. marketing strategy and international advertising and marketing for Wal-Mart Stores from 2003 to 2005.
Fifer said Sussman was recruited to Supplier Community to manage the company’s growth. The firm’s website receives more than 60,000 page views each month, and a twice weekly newsletter goes to more than 150,000 retailer and supplier team employees.
Supplier Community has 10 employees in Bentonville. Sussman said the business is planning to expand its footprint in the next three years, with employees in other cities including Minneapolis, Cincinnati and Seattle.
Sussman said he and Fifer have known each other for more than a decade from their time spent working together as executives at Wal-Mart.
“We’ve stayed friends and I have admired the different businesses Matt has built in Northwest Arkansas,” he said. “We always hoped we would have the chance to work on something meaningful again together.”
Sussman holds an MBA from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.
At Collective Bias, which now has 150 employees in five U.S. cities, Sussman led the company through a period of rapid growth. In his four-plus years at the helm, annual revenue grew from the single digits in millions to nearly $50 million. Collective Bias uses proprietary technology to harness the power of consumer recommendation and endorsement across thousands of websites and millions of social media connections to support brands and retailers.
In September 2016, New York-based Inc. magazine ranked Collective Bias the second-fastest growing company based in Arkansas in its annual Inc. 5000 list. Rankings are based on how fast a company’s revenue grew in a three-year period. To qualify for the 2016 list, a company must have generated at least $100,000 in revenue in 2012 and more than $2 million in 2015. Collective Bias experienced revenue growth of 409% during that three-year period, with $33.7 million in revenue in 2015.
Besides the revenue growth, Sussman said he was most proud of Collective Bias being the industry leader when it came to measurement of the effectiveness of social media.
“In the four-plus years it went from the Wild West and self-reported impressions to a highly measurable analytic discipline centered on engagement and return on investment,” he said, “which ultimately moved social media into a more mainstream form of digital media and content marketing.”
In November 2016, Collective Bias was acquired by Inmar, a North Carolina-based retail technology firm. Collective Bias retained its name and operates as its own entity, and Sussman took on additional responsibilities as a senior vice president at Inmar, reporting directly to Chairman and CEO David Mounts.
Sussman said the “stars really had to align” for him to consider leaving Collective Bias.
“One, I needed to feel sure that the business had a capable successor, which it does in Amy Callahan,” he explained. “Two, I needed to complete the promise I made to Inmar to stay until Collective Bias and its other consumer facing businesses were fully integrated into Inmar, which occurred this fall. I have nothing but respect for David Mounts and the leadership team based in Winston-Salem. Third, the right leadership opportunity had to emerge where I could join a growth business, which I have done twice successfully at Triad Retail Media and at Collective Bias.
“Supplier Community was a perfect business for me to leverage my experience of working at a retailer [Wal-Mart], working in a shopper marketing team leadership role [Nickelodeon] and also working at service providers [Collective Bias and Triad].
Callahan, who co-founded Collective Bias in 2009 with former CEO John Andrews, and is the company’s chief client officer, said the firm is not hiring a successor for Sussman, but she will be taking over the “business lead responsibilities for Collective Bias under the larger umbrella of Inmar.”
Callahan said she will be forever grateful to Sussman for his role in the company’s success.
“Bill was instrumental in leading the evolution of our business through tremendous growth,” she said. “Under his direction and successful leadership we have transformed the influencer marketing landscape. And Bill has left Collective Bias uniquely poised for growth with the Inmar acquisition of last year.
“All of Collective Bias wishes Bill much success in his next venture.”