In retrospect, Konrad Feldman’s timing for starting a business was less than ideal. In 2005, Feldman moved from a high-rise office on Wall Street to a cubicle in San Francisco to launch Quantcast, a big data company that helps clients get smart about online advertising. Then the financial crisis hit. “We focused on making everything measurable and driving very clear improvements,” Feldman says. “When the economy is stalled, you need get laser focused on your ROI.”
That focus paid off. Today, Quantcast’s servers are processing 30 petabytes of advertising and ad auction data per day. (For comparison, humanity’s entire written record takes up about 50 petabytes.) Quantcast has 340 employees, offices across the U.S. and in Europe, and reported revenue of $100 million.
This puts Quantcast squarely in the U.S. middle market, a group of 200,000 companies with annual revenues between $10 million to $1 billion that has long been the unsung hero of the U.S. economy. Middle market companies like Quantcast employ 43 million Americans and account for one third of U.S. jobs. The group generates $3.8 trillion in economic output, enough to make it the world’s fourth largest economy after the U.S., China, and Japan.
The segment powered through the financial crisis and added 2.2 million jobs between 2007 and 2010. But it still needs support. That’s why GE Capital, a major lender to the middle market, partnered with Slate, a leading online magazine, to launch Roadshow for Growth. The roadshow is a six-month, multi-city bus tour designed to stimulate debate and economic research, and generate stories about innovation and successful business ideas and make the middle market stronger.
Slate, as a pioneer of web journalism, will help GE tell the middle market stories. Slate Chairman Jacob Weisberg will be on the roadshow bus, as well as top GE Capital executives Mike Pilot, the unit’s chief commercial officer and Dan Henson, president and CEO of GE Capital Americas.
The partners say that the roadshow will allow them to hold town hall meeting and debates across the country, drop in on customers, and talk to entrepreneurs and employees in their communities about issues like domestic and overseas competition, innovation, regulation, and healthcare. They hope that the talks will provide a real-time feedback. Slate publisher Matt Turck said that the roadshow was designed to amplify the middle market’s voice so that it “will also be heard on Capitol Hill.”
The tour starts today in Kansas City, and the roadshow bus will make stops in the Mid-West in St. Louis, Indianapolis, Chicago and elsewhere, before hitting New York and Los Angeles. Our infographics have the details.
Click to enlarge.