Who is Twingly’s new CEO, Peter Bláha?

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.

Peter and Zoe

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.

Why I’m leaving as the CEO of Twingly

 

Today we make it public that, after six years on duty, I’ve made the decision to replace myself as the CEO of Twingly. Effective as of now, I no longer work on a day-to-day basis at Twingly. I remain as shareholder and will take a seat on the board of directors.

While recruiting Peter as our new CEO we also made the decision to elect Niclas Heurlin as Chairman of the Board. He has been on our board for several years and contributed a lot to our success. Together, the CEO and the chairman have very defining roles and it will be great to see how far they can take Twingly with the help of our great team.

I believe in intuition, the importance of taking your gut feeling into account when making decisions. Intuition is often thought of as something that comes to you in an instant. But life altering decisions are rarely made in an instant, and they shouldn’t be. You need to feel out the consequences of a decision over some time, sort of trying it out to see if it fits.

In big decisions I believe intuition is as important as in smaller ones. But it’s a different kind if intuition, that grows on you instead of appearing in a flash. These are the gut feelings that are really important to pay attention to. Otherwise you end up living a life that’s not what you want it to be. In the most literal sense, life is far too short to spend on anything else than fulfilling your dreams.

Last year I realized I felt uneasy from being too safe and not learning as much every day as I want to. I thrive in uncertainty. I’m an entrepreneur because I love the unknown, and Twingly is today a profitable and predictable business. We have accomplished a lot, even acquiring Bloggportalen.se which was our biggest competitor when we started up in 2006. The feeling of accomplishment is a big part of why I need to do something else: It’s time to take on a great challenge again.

Since the opportunity seldom arises I want to extend my deepest gratitude to everyone that has been part of my journey at Twingly. Everything I have accomplished at Twingly has been thanks to the best co-founders in the world; Björn, Nicke and Figge. The best team I have ever worked with; Anton, Pontus, Oskar, Jörgen, Mattias, Hugo, Anja, Kristoffer, Marcus, Annie and Charlotta. A great Board of Directors; Lars, Björn J and Niclas H. And the best supporters and advisors imaginable; all the people of the Swedish social media sphere, Bubblan.

There are a few people I especially want to mention that have helped define Twingly from the outside. Per-Åke Olsson, who opened the door for Twingly at Dagens Nyheter, our first customer. Joakim Jardenberg, the archangel of Swedish media, who has always been supportive but also never held back on due criticism. Emanuel Karlsten, who is a never tiring lighthouse in Swedish journalism. Matti Palm and Åsa Melin-Mandre, who helped shape the Twingly brand more than anyone else. And Sandra Källström, my wife and better half without whom I would never have made it to where I am.

Actively turning the page into a new chapter of my life allows me to get back to what I do best, dealing with uncertainty. At the birth of a new company everything is unknown and every day is an opportunity to learn something new. And a new opportunity to conquer the world.

With love,
Martin Källström