The Digiday Questionnaire: Reuters’ Vikram Somaya

The famous Proust Questionnaire comes from a popular 19th-century parlor game in which guests were asked to answer a series of questions to reveal the respondent’s true nature. Digiday is updating the Proust Questionnaire for the digital media industry. If you or someone you know would like to answer the Digiday Questionnaire, contact me at the email address below.

Our latest subject is Vikram Somaya, vp of global operations and audience for Thomson Reuters.

The Digiday Questionnaire: Vikram Somaya

1. What about working in the digital media industry makes you happy?
The people. They are usually relentless, florid, insightful, intelligent, easy to excite, amenable to innovation and generally a pleasure to be around and work with. I come to work knowing I work with some of the best people in any industry anywhere, and we need to stop taking that for granted all the time.

2. What about working in the digital media industry makes you miserable?
The people. Sometimes, they can be anal, annoying, alpha, relentlessly fault-seeking, cliquish, self-serving and occasionally gigantic pains in my posterior. However, this is not usually true, and I’m just not a very miserable person, so it’s entirely manageable.

3. What is the worst fault you see in your area of the industry?
Having spent most of my time on the ad tech/publisher side, I’ll speak to both. The ad tech folks often buy into their own mythology with a vengeance that’s hard to reasonably understand. I think it speaks to the great victories, but also to the great moments of communal blindness. Publishers, on the other hand, find it hard to break out of their frame of reference. They find it hard to vector away from what has defined them historically, and while one could ascribe this to quarterly expectations and the death of print, I think it’s plain-and-simple fear of the unknown.

4. What positive changes do you hope to see in the industry?
Anyone who thinks our industry is not a beacon for hope and change should go do something else. We question the status quo constantly. We bring together technology and creativity. We reward talent and diligence. We wear colorful socks. We bring fantasy to life daily. We are the change we need to see in the industry. We just need to allow ourselves to believe that.

5. What is the quality you most admire in a digital media CEO?

6. What tech company do you wish you started?

7. Silicon Valley or Madison Ave.?
The intersection of. Having worked agency-side, ad tech and pub-side, I’m a product of mixed genes. I enjoy working in the interstices of all three.

8. Track or Do Not Track?
Track or Do Not: There is no Try to Do Not.

9. App or mobile site?
Mobile site? Really? That’s not even a trick question. This is the Digiday audience not the Neo-Luddite Society. Apps bring together creativity and tech in a way that’s been only hinted at with the browser-based world. Can I have some more please?

10. If you could only use one of these for these rest of your life: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Spotify, which one?
LinkedIn. It gets short shrift compared to its sexier siblings, but it has the most direct impact on my personal and professional bottom line. Doesn’t make me a joyless fossil, just pragmatic.

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