Kirk McDonald has been installed as interim chief executive of Xandr following the unexpected exit of Brian Lesser, a move that cut short his two-and-a-half-year reign at the top of AT&T’s ad-tech unit.
Xandr has yet to officially communicate externally on the reshuffle of its leadership team despite multiple press requests for comment but sources with knowledge of the developments informed Adweek the outfit will be led on an interim basis by McDonald who will report directly to John Stankey, president and COO of AT&T, and CEO of WarnerMedia.
McDonald’s was formerly Xandr’s chief business officer, and his appointment comes during an eventful week for Xandr, during which it scrapped its previously scheduled Upfront event with sister outfit WarnerMedia as part of the ongoing Coronavirus crisis. Additionally, yesterday, also saw Xandr announce deals with AMC Networks and Disney in a PR-initiative that prominently featured outgoing chief Lesser.
His exit brings to an end a two-and-a-half-year tenure that saw him join from GroupM, where he was CEO of North America, and led the outfit’s rebrand from AdCo to Xandr in 2018. This period also saw the outfit embark on an acquisition spree, including the $1.6 billion purchase of AppNexus in 2018 and last year’s purchase of Clypd, which is powering the new iteration of Xandr Invest. More recently, the company took a minority stake in privacy outfit InfoSum.
It is understood that Lesser had been vying for the chief exec role at WarnerMedia, where the top ad sales role has been vacant since Donna Speciale exited the role in July last year, and that his exit followed AT&T’s decision to reduce Xandr’s external prominence.
Xandr’s communications department did not respond to Adweek requests for comment on the latest leadership developments by the time of publication.