Rapidly Growing Social Content Platform Odyssey Expands Leadership Team With Notable CBSO AND CFO Hires

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Odyssey’s fast growth continues with two key hires following recent hire of former Goldman Sachs partner as CMO

The Odyssey

Odyssey (http://www.theodysseyonline.com), a millennial-focused social content platform, today announces the expansion of its leadership with two significant hires. Digital advertising veteran Ken Nelson, previously of Collective, will take the role of Chief Business Strategy Officer, and Kay Whitaker, former CFO of First Internet Bancorp and an Indiana Business Journal CFO of the Year, joins as Chief Financial Officer. These new senior hires join Lisa Shalett, former Goldman Sachs Partner and Head of Brand Marketing, who recently joined as Chief Marketing Officer.

In his new role, Ken Nelson brings over 15 years of experience in the digital advertising space, both as a leader within large organizations and an entrepreneur. He is known as an innovator and thought leader in the adtech and brand marketing community, with expertise in native and programmatic advertising and data-driven platforms. He will lead business development, further expanding the sales team, and driving new strategic relationships with advertisers, agencies, and trading desks. Prior to joining Odyssey, Ken was SVP of Advertiser Services at Collective, a leading programmatic, multi-screen advertising company that connects brand marketers to consumer audiences. Ken managed Collective’s national direct-to-advertiser sales channel, and served as Business Lead for the company’s 2015 launch of Collective Desk, a digital programmatic buying platform. Before Collective, Ken served as VP of Business Development for Exponential Interactive, responsible for cross-divisional media sales across media departments that include Tribal Fusion, Adotube, Firefly, and Appsnack. A successful entrepreneur, Ken was on the founding team of data management platform Brilig, and founder and CEO of first-to-market interactive TV and mobile technology companies C.A.C. Media and Astata Corporation.

“Having advised Odyssey for a number of years, I saw them reach an inflection point in terms of their growth trajectory and technological differentiation that was too exciting to resist — I knew I had to join full time,” Nelson said. “As the industry continues to focus on programmatic and native advertising, Odyssey’s platform is perfectly positioned, and can offer brands and advertisers uniquely authentic and data-driven strategies for reaching millennials. I am thrilled to join this outstanding and passionate team and bring my experience and perspective to help lead Odyssey into the next phases of success and partnerships. Having worked with many early-stage companies in the past, I see a massive opportunity for continued substantial growth.”

Kay Whitaker brings an extensive breadth and depth of financial expertise to Odyssey from her prior roles as CFO, COO, and Board Member for public and private companies, ranging from startup to large enterprises. Kay took First Internet Bancorp public as Executive Vice President and CFO and was the CFO responsible for the $650 million portfolio of Central Indiana Community Foundation, one of the largest endowments in the U.S. As Treasurer and CFO at Citizens Energy, she led corporate acquisition, financing and debt issuance. She is a well-respected leader within the finance community, and was named CFO of the Year by the Indianapolis Business Journal in 2012.

“Evan Burns and Odyssey have become a breakout growth story within the thriving entrepreneurial community in Indianapolis and in the technology and media industries broadly,” said Whitaker. “I am excited to apply my expertise toward achieving this next phase of growth.”

Evan Burns, founder and CEO of Odyssey, said, “As we continue revolutionize the way content is created, discovered, disseminated, and shared, I’m excited to grow our executive team and add people who have been established leaders in their respective fields. Ken has been an innovator in the field of digital advertising, specifically programmatic, for years, Kay brings financial expertise from years of scaling businesses, and they both join our new CMO Lisa Shalett, who brings her experience as a seasoned marketing executive. We are at a unique moment in the redefinition of the traditional career path where a fast-growing company like ours is able to attract these incredibly talented people who are keen to contribute their expertise to strengthen our infrastructure at Odyssey and position us for further growth.”

Odyssey has grown quickly, achieving the milestone of 10 million monthly unique visitors within the first 10 months of its digital launch in June 2014, and is now close to doubling that figure to 20 million. The rapid growth and high engagement levels demonstrate the powerful connection people feel with content that is locally relevant and organically shared across social media channels. Odyssey currently has over 3,500 writers embedded in more than 300 communities across the United States, projected to grow to 600 communities by the end of 2015.

About Odyssey
Odyssey’s social content platform crowdsources viewpoints from millennial thought leaders embedded in their local communities, surfacing a rich and otherwise untapped diversity of stories and real conversations to share on a worldwide scale with an audience hungry for a variety of perspectives. The platform empowers its thousands of writers to contribute what matters to them, and enables content to find its most relevant audience through organic social sharing. All Odyssey content undergoes a rigorous editorial process, leveraging the power of its proprietary MUSE technology combined with its editorial team. Odyssey, which launched online in 2014, is growing explosively with a highly engaged millennial and Gen Z audience. Based in New York and Indianapolis, Odyssey has a presence in over 350 communities nationwide, growing to 600 communities by year end.

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Katherine Hurd
Moxie Communications Group
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