Penry Price, one of Google's best-known sales executives, is leaving the company after seven years to join startup Media6Degrees as president.
Mr. Price will end his career at Google as VP and head of global agency sales and partnerships, charged with maximizing the amount of advertising sales dollars that the largest global ad agencies spend on Google search, display and YouTube. He reported to VP and head of U.S. sales Dennis Woodside and to Google Chief Business Officer Nikesh Arora.
He made his name at the company as Tim Armstrong's top deputy, when he headed Google's 750-person-strong U.S. ad sales force before Mr. Armstrong left to become CEO of AOL in 2009. Mr. Price confirmed the departure but declined to elaborate. Wednesday will be his last day at the company.
Media6Degrees is an ad-targeting firm that uses vast data sets and algorithms to target customer prospects based on where a brand's customers congregate on the web. Mr. Price will report to CEO Tom Phillips, another former Google employee, and joins Chief Operating Officer Andrew Pancer and Chief Technology Officer and co-founder Rod Hook.
Mr. Price joined Google prior to its IPO in 2004 from Us Weekly, where he was advertising director. At the time, Google was just beginning to form relationships with brand advertisers and agencies. He went on to manage Google's U.S. sales under Mr. Armstrong. After Mr. Armstrong left in 2009, his role was divided among several execs, including Mr. Price, who became global head of agency relations.
Google has come a long way with agencies since Mr. Price began, but it has more work to do. Google earns $3 billion in ad spending from its direct U.S. sales force, up from $250 million in 2004, but it's still working hard to better monetize its non-search assets.
Media6Degrees' Mr. Phillips worked with Mr. Price for three years at Google and had for several weeks been recruiting him to join the startup. "We had been looking for the right sales leader for a while," he said. "Only recently did this become a prospect."
Like Mr. Price, Mr. Phillips also began his career in print, as publisher of Spy Magazine.
Founded in 2007 and based in New York, Media6Degrees closed a $17 million series B financing with Menlo Ventures, U.S. Venture Partners and Venrock in December. Mr. Phillips said the company is operating on a $35 million run-rate and employs 80 people.
Rather than targeting individuals, Media6Degrees looks for trends and relationships in big sets of data. "We take the customers of a brand and use a massive array of mapping data to figure out where the customers of a brand are clustering on the web, where they show up disproportionately to a random audience," Mr. Phillips said. " What we're doing has the potential to fundamentally change the way large marketers think about their brand. I think we are on to something huge."