At adtech startup Nova, president Matt Crenshaw steps into the CEO position

Kunal Gupta, CEO of Polar and Nova, smiling
Former CEO Gupta shifts over to the board, advisory role.

Advertising tech startup Nova – formerly known as Polar – has made some changes to its C-suite. Kunal Gupta, the startup’s CEO and founder announced that he is transitioning to a board member and advisor role while president Matt Crenshaw steps into the role of CEO.

Nova also announced Andres Morón will join as a new CFO, and Leah Malone has been promoted to the position of global CRO.

“My focus is shifting to longer-term strategic initiatives now,” Gupta wrote in a LinkedIn post. “Founded 15 years ago, originally as Polar Mobile, Nova has been my professional identity and has shaped me.”

“I am confident in Matt as the right leader to guide Nova through our next chapter of growth.”
– Kunal Gupta, Nova

“One of the most impactful pieces of business advice I received when I started Nova was that a business has truly achieved product-market fit once the founder is no longer needed to grow it,” Gupta wrote. “The founder charm and magic makes it easy to be fooled into believing that everything is working just fine.”

Gupta added that Nova continues to grow at an accelerated pace, relative to the industry. “It is very satisfying to see what I have started continue to grow without me involved with every client, feature or project,” he said.

Co-founded in 2007 by Gupta, Nova was previously called Polar Mobile, and was launched as a media-focused app development firm. It then pivoted to organized advertising in 2013 with the launch of MediaVoice, a platform that “enables publishers to easily present, create, serve, and report native advertising experiences across their desktop, tablet, and smartphone websites.”

The last time Nova made management changes came in July 2022 when it announced its rebranding from Polar to Nova. At that time, Nova promoted Crenshaw from chief commercial officer to the role of president.

Nova also announced at that point that it had secured an undisclosed amount of funding from American private equity firm Fort Point Capital. Before its undisclosed funding round, Nova had one institutional investor, Georgian, and a collective of angel investors; with total funding of $14 million.

Currently, the startup claims 55 employees, clients in 20 countries, and 150 publishers and media platforms as partners.

Gupta said he has worked closely with Crenshaw since the latter joined in 2021. Gupta noted that Crenshaw brings over 25 years of management experience in the media and advertising industry.

RELATED: Following significant growth, Polar spins out ad product into standalone business

Crenshaw’s previous roles include general manager for North America at Outbrain, a recommendation platform for the web; president of the Mother Nature Network; and VP of marketing and analytics for Discovery Communications.

“I am confident in Matt as the right leader to guide Nova through our next chapter of growth, working alongside our incredibly talented team,” Gupta wrote.

As CFO, Morón will be responsible for finance, strategy and operations. Morón was previously the COO and CFO at tech company Spongecell for over eight years. Flashtalking, an ad server startup, acquired Spongecell for an undisclosed amount in 2018.

Following Spongecell, Morón spent a brief period of time as the VP of operations, strategy, and planning at the news organization Quartz before working in finance and operations at Sony/ATV Music Publishing on contract.

Malone had previously served as Nova’s CRO since 2021. Previously she came from location tech startup Foursquare where she worked as a regional VP, managing director, and senior director over seven years.

Charles Mandel

Charles Mandel

Charles Mandel's reporting and writing on technology has appeared in, Canadian Business, Report on Business Magazine, Canada's National Observer, The Globe and Mail, and the National Post, among many others. He lives off-grid in Nova Scotia.

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