The former banker was the first outsider brought in by the two founders of Skype. James has since built, advised and invested in a series of digital businesses. He also led the online transformation of Condé Nast brands like Vogue, GQ and Vanity Fair. As the second generation of disruptors take aim, James reveals their thinking and positive paranoia. He also explains why the challenge for ‘legacy companies’ is not technical implementation, but shifting cultural attitudes.
James Bilefield has built a series of high-growth, global digital and multichannel businesses as entrepreneur and executive (Skype, Condé Nast, Yahoo!, OpenX, UpMyStreet), non-executive chairman and board director (Ticketscript, Farfetch, Vestiaire Collective) and advisor/investor (Seedcamp, Roli, Polar).
Serving as President of the digital division of Condé Nast International, James led the multimedia transformation of iconic brands such as Vogue, GQ, Wired and Vanity Fair across 27 markets outside the USA. He also led Series C round investments in e-commerce leaders Farfetch and Vestiaire Collective, whose boards he joined as part of those transactions.
James was also CEO of OpenX, the world’s leading digital and mobile advertising platform, serving billions of ads daily across more than a hundred countries, backed by Index Ventures, Accel Partners and others. He joined OpenX from Skype, where he served as part of the founding management team as its first Vice President to run the global Business Development team. Following the $4.1bn sale of the company to eBay Inc., he took responsibility for Skype's activities and performance across Europe, its largest region.
Before Skype James held a range of senior commercial and management roles at Yahoo! in Europe. Prior to that, he co-founded and ran UpMyStreet.com, an award-winning local information business following a successful career in the Investment Banking Division of JP Morgan Chase in London and New York City. He serves on the UK Government's Digital Advisory Board and on the Enterprises Board of the Science Museum Group in London, and most recently joined the board of Teach First.
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