Last week we announced that Twingly Co-founder and CEO Martin Källström has made the decision to leave his role after six years on duty. Today we want to give you the chance to learn a bit more about Martin’s successor, Peter Bláha, who is our new CEO.
Before you read our short interview with Peter in which he gives some insights into who we his and how he plans to develop Twingly, here are a few facts about him. Peter is 34 years young, a graduate engineer in data technology and he joins Twingly after 7 years of extensive sales experience in his last position as Director of Sales at the Swedish Network Provider IP-Only. Peter is married and he has 2 daughters as well as 2 dogs. You can follow him on Twitter or on his blog – just don’t be surprised about the huge cover photos there. You will get background information on that if you carry on reading here!
Hi Peter. You leave the business-to-business telecom industry to lead a company working with social media and blogs. That’s kind of a big change, isn’t it?
True, but that’s also my intention: After having worked with selling data communication infrastructure and telecom services to large companies for seven years I felt the time was right for a new challenge. I have always been interested in the media sector and social media is an important and growing part of that. That’s why I consider Twingly a great opportunity for me to get to know another industry. It’s a new challenge, and that’s exactly what I was looking for.
Is it the first time you are the CEO of a company?
Yes, although my team at my previous job consisted of 5 people, now at Twingly it’s 8. So that’s not a huge difference concerning management.
You have lots of sales experience. Will that background shape your work at Twingly?
Yes, one of my goals is to make Twingly a more sales-driven company and to focus even more on developing products and services that our customers, like websites using our Twingly widgets as well as clients working with our blog data APIs, ask for.
What does that mean for bloggers who always have been at the heart of Twingly’s interest?
We love bloggers. They don’t need to worry at all. Since 2006 Twingly has been developing its technological basis and services. Now that most of it is in place, we can focus increasingly on selling services to our clients. But it is equally important to us to come even closer to the blogosphere, which is why we recently bought the Swedish blog portal Bloggportalen. The math is simple: If we increase the number of partners who use Twingly widgets, bloggers have more websites that they can link to and get traffic back in return. It’s a win-win situation.
Speaking about Bloggportalen: What can bloggers in Sweden expect?
We will improve its looks and make it easier to use and easier to register. We are also going to add new features for bloggers. Bloggportalen will be the place where bloggers increase the traffic to their blogs.
What else will happen at Twingly in the near future?
In addition to Sweden, Twingly is active in 16 different countries. We will put more effort into expanding our current business into foreign markets and we want to do that in the same effective way as in our home market. Germany and UK are top priorities and we are also going to analyse whether there are other countries that should be of interest to us. In those markets the priority will most likely be our blog data business, while in the Nordics we will heavily continue to push our widget services as well as develop Bloggportalen.
How are you as a leader?
I’m direct and honest, prefer low hierarchies and try to inform as much as possible. The more information the better.
Unlike the telecom b2b industry, the social media sphere is pretty public, both regarding praise and criticism. How will you deal with that?
Since I have participated in a Swedish TV show called “Gladiators” I have experience with receiving public feedback, both the good and the bad. I always try to answer criticism instead of ignoring it.
It doesn’t happen that often that the CEO of an Internet company (or any company) has been a “Gladiator” on TV…
Hehe, that might be true. I participated in the Swedish adaptation of the US entertainment show “American Gladiators” in 2004, and for the current season the producers called me and asked if I want to apply again. Since last time was lots of fun and I love everything that has to do with competition, I applied and got picked again. The whole program was filmed in a period of 3 weeks, so it doesn’t interfere with my new role at Twingly.
And you can deal with the occasional Gladiator remark you hear when talking to clients?
It’s a perfect ice breaker and eases up meetings a lot : ) !
Do you have another hobby you are passionate about?
Yes, 17 years ago I discovered my passion for Rugby, and today I play for the Stockholm-based first-division Rugby club Hammarby IF RF as well as for the Swedish national team.
Can you somehow use your Rugby and Gladiators experience for your professional life?
Well, the Rugby rules are hard to apply at work. You don’t tackle your clients or co-workers. But since I have been manager of a Rugby team for a few years, I learned a lot about how to coach 25 guys with very strong opinions. That experience naturally can be useful on the job, too. And through the Gladiators show I gained media training, which might come handy in some situations as well.
Will you get your Twingly colleagues to play Rugby?
Only if they like to : ).
Where do you want Twingly to be in the end of 2013?
My goal is that in the end of 2013, Twingly will be known to have the best quality and area coverage of blogs in Europe, and that any company which needs to get deep knowledge and understanding about the European blogosphere knows that Twingly can deliver that. Furthermore, I want Bloggportalen to be the heart of Swedish blogosphere.