Ross Adams is the CEO of podcast hosting platform, Acast. He's been with the company since its inception in 2014 and has proved hugely instrumental in driving its growth and monetization. In 2020, Acast enjoyed its best year to date, seeing revenue growth of over 64% on the previous year for podcasts. Find out more about the man behind Acast's success as we take a look at ten things you didn't know about Ross Adams.
1. He's an Oxford graduate
Oxford boasts one of the most famous universities in the world. Historians believe it's been a center of learning since 1096, making it the oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world's second-oldest university overall. It's known as one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the world, with a legendary reputation that's rivaled only by Cambridge. Anyone who can say they obtained their degree at Oxford is almost certainly on the way to great things. Unless, of course, the Oxford university they're talking about is Oxford Brookes, a former polytechnic that shares the same location as Oxford University, but comes with a lot less prestige. In fairness, it's still a great university, and earning a 2:1 in Hospitality & Retail Management from it clearly hasn't done Adams any harm at all.
2. He spent four years at Spotify
Prior to joining Acast, Adams spent four years at Spotify, the digital music service that launched in 2008 and that's been feeding our appetite for new music ever since. Having joined the company in 2008, he ranks as one of its very earliest employees. Originally taken on board as an Account Director, he quickly began moving up the ranks. By January 2010, he'd been promoted to Sales Director for the UK, a position he occupied for just over a year. In February 2011, he was promoted to Sales Director for Europe. He remained in the position until his departure from the company in September 2014.
3. He's been with Acast since the beginning
In 2008, Adams joined Spotify as one of its very first employees. 6 years later, he repeated the pattern by joining Acast right at the moment of its birth. As one of the driving forces behind its inception, Adams helped position, launch, and monetize the company in the UK, quickly proving to be one of its most valuable assets in the process.
4. He took over as CEO in 2017
Three years after its launch, Acast announced its plans to go public on the Stockholm Stock Exchange. At the same time, it announced that it would be shaking up its leadership. In advance of its listing, founding CEO Måns Ulvestam and Chief Strategy Officer Karl Rosander announced they would be stepping down from their executive positions. Stepping into the role of CEO would be Adams, who at that point was serving as Chief Revenue Officer.
5. 2020 was his best year to date
While 2020 was a pretty bleak year for most of us, for Adams, it was one of the best years yet, at least professionally. Acast's revenue grew by over 64%, allowing it to end the year with $71.2 million in total operating revenue. Its fourth-quarter revenue represented a 95% increase on the previous year, something no doubt helped by the 40% increase in the number of brands buying ad time. “In 2020, Acast delivered its best year to date,” Adams said in an announcement via Business Insider. “Advertisers continued to acknowledge the value in reaching an engaged audience which contributed to grow our operating revenues.”
6. He doesn't think podcasts will kill the radio
The emergence of digital media may have done a number on print, but Adams doesn't think podcasts will have the same disrupting effect on radio. During an interview with Mediaweek, the Acast CEO explained that he believes podcasts and radio fill two separate functions, with neither one presenting a challenge to the other. "We talk a lot about it not disrupting radio.," he said. "People are time-poor now and podcasting is a medium that can travel everywhere with you. It fills moments in daily lives that are not necessarily being filled now so it is not here to challenge radio."
7. He's confident about the future
2020 might have been a stellar year for Acast, but its CEO believes its future will be even brighter. During an interview with Inside Radio, Adams outlined his confidence in the company's ability to emerge as an industry leader. “Together with podcast creators, advertisers and listeners we managed to demonstrate the strength of the podcast medium," he said. “I am confident that we remain well-positioned to pursue our ambition to become the global leader in the audio-on-demand market.”
8. He believes accessibility is key
If there's one thing that Adams believes is vital to the ongoing success of Acast, it's that it remains fully accessible to listeners. “The most important thing about the podcast medium is that it continues to be public and accessible and independent of any one platform,” he's explained via Medium.
9. He thinks overnight success is possible
In most industries, success doesn't come easy. The podcast world is different. This is a medium where you really don't need to dedicate 10 years of hard work to become an overnight success. At least, not always. Adams revealed how it's possible to achieve instant success by watching the trends and jumping in where there's a gap. “There’s no secret sauce or algorithm,” he explains. “The key lesson is to see what’s already out there and discover the gap.”
10. He's turned Acast into one of the UK's best places to work
Adams hasn't only turned Acast into one of the biggest success stories of recent years, he's also turned it into one of the best places to work in the UK. Last year, Acast was voted one of the Best Places to Work in 2020 by Campaign magazine, something Adams attributes to his focus on culture. "Whether it’s during the hiring process, or when we’re thinking about how to retain the best talent, or discussing how to continue growing the company — maintaining our culture simply has to come first," he's said.
Written by Allen Lee
Read more posts by Allen Lee