You and Mr Jones’ growth spurt is turning into a surge.
The five-year-old technology holding company, which recently completed a Series B funding round to the tune of $260 million, has hired Paulette Forte as its first chief people officer to help the company oversee its expanding employee base.
Forte joins from the NBA, where she most recently served as senior director of human resources. Throughout her career, she’s held human resources positions at companies including Scholastic, Grey and FutureBrand.
“We were thrilled to bring someone of Paulette’s caliber in,” David Jones, founder and CEO of You & Mr Jones, said.
Her appointment follows a successful year for You & Mr Jones, which describes itself as a “brandtech” company. According to the firm, its organic net revenue grew 27% by the third quarter of 2020 compared to the same time period in 2019.
At the moment, You & Mr Jones has 3,000 employees across the various companies it’s acquired over the past five years. These include Collectively, an influencer marketing firm, as well as Oliver, which specializes in helping brands build in-house digital marketing capabilities. You & Mr Jones is currently hiring for approximately 300 positions.
Newfound focus on talent
Following 2020’s shift to a remote workforce, and the “benefits and challenges that have come with that,” Jones said he felt as though it was time to invest in a chief people officer. He explained that while You & Mr Jones has spent much of its existence focusing on its technology chops, it hasn’t dedicated as much time to talent.
“One of Paulette’s key roles is going to be getting our processes and systems [regarding] people and talent to where they should be,” Jones shared. “We will grow significantly more in 2021 than we did in 2020, and so we felt that we needed someone at Paulette’s level to come in and oversee talent.”
In addition to becoming chief people officer, Forte will serve as associate partner and join the company’s roughly 30-person leadership team. In her new role, she will be tasked with providing strategic oversight of all people processes within the company, including talent acquisition, leadership development, employee relations, professional education and DEI initiatives.
According to You & Mr Jones, Forte will “work hand-in-hand with” key human resources executives within its various portfolio companies.
“Historically, my roles have always been at organizations at the inflection point when there’s change,” she said, noting that DEI will be a “huge objective” for her.
Forging future growth
Since its founding in 2015, You & Mr Jones has raised $610 million. Looking ahead, Jones, who started the company after serving as global CEO of Havas, said he expects to continue growing organically and via acquisitions.
Geographically, Jones said he plans to expand the company further into Asia and Latin America, as much of its growth to date has come from North America and Europe.
You & Mr Jones has made seven acquisitions since 2015 and currently works with brands including Adidas, Microsoft, RB and Unilever.
Jones describes the company he founded as one that specializes in “mobile-first, digital-only content,” contrasting it with advertising’s more traditional holding companies that were founded long before the advent of mobile.
He said the company encourages brands to work with agencies such as Droga5 and Wieden + Kennedy for the “big idea,” but come to You & Mr Jones to “create the literally thousands of always-on social, digital and ecommerce assets” needed today.
“We will never buy or own ad agencies,” he said. “We say to clients, ‘you need to work with an ad agency, because we will never do what ad agencies do.’”
In addition to acquisitions, You & Mr Jones has invested in several technology companies since its launch, including Pinterest and Niantic, the creator of Pokémon Go. Jones said these minority investments give You & Mr Jones a “ringside seat” into where the landscape is headed.
It recently invested in Blacktag, a platform for Black content and creators.