Alison Weissbrot
Aug 18, 2021

Epsilon CEO Bryan Kennedy to retire

Former Conversant CEO John Giuliani will replace him as executive chairman.

Bryan Kennedy, executive strategic advisor, Epsilon
Bryan Kennedy, executive strategic advisor, Epsilon

Epsilon CEO and 25-year veteran Bryan Kennedy will retire at the end of the year, the company said Tuesday (August 17). 

John Giuliani, formerly CEO of Epsilon-owned ad tech platform Conversant, will rejoin the company as executive chairman, taking over Kennedy’s responsibilities as he transitions to an executive strategic advisor role. 

Ric Elert, Epsilon’s COO and president, will work closely with Giuliani in an expanded remit leading operations and driving international growth. Both Giuliani and Elert will report to Publicis Groupe CEO Arthur Sadoun.

“I am excited to be re-joining Epsilon and honored to work with so many truly talented and outstanding people,” Giuliani said in a statement. “Epsilon has a set of assets that are superior in the industry and I see tremendous opportunity to continue to transform the way brands reach and engage consumers in a digital-first world.” 

Kennedy joined Epsilon in 1996 as chief technology officer. He became chief operating officer in 2001 and took on the CEO role in 2009. 

During his time as CEO, Epsilon sold to Publicis Groupe for a whopping $4.4 billion as the ad industry adapts to a world with more privacy restrictions. In addition to managing first-party and CRM databases for advertisers such as WalgreensEpsilon owns ad tech platform Conversant, an agency business and an affiliate marketing network. 

“After 25 years at Epsilon, I’m incredibly grateful to retire with confidence that Epsilon, our employees, and our clients are in the best position for continued growth as part of Publicis,” Kennedy said in a statement. “It’s been a privilege to work alongside our teams around the world to establish  Epsilon as an industry-leader in identity, customer database and engagement, loyalty, and email. I look forward  to working with Arthur, John and Ric through the remainder of the year to ensure Epsilon is set up for success today and in the future.” 

Since being acquired by Publicis Groupe, Epsilon has been at the heart of its data story, winning over large clients such as Disney in ‘Power of One’ integrated pitches. 

“I would like to sincerely thank Bryan for his outstanding leadership of Epsilon and for his partnership with the Publicis management team over the last two  years,” Arthur Sadoun, CEO of Publicis Groupe, said in a statement. “With Ric, he has been a key driving force behind the successful integration of Epsilon into Publicis,” he said, adding that the company grew 31.1% in Q2.  

Giuliani joined Epsilon when he sold Conversant to the company, then called Alliance Data, in 2014. Prior to that he built digital media company Dotomi, which sold to Conversant in 2011, and was president of North America for Catalina Marketing Services. 

Sadoun said: “I’d like to welcome John back to Epsilon. He and Ric have already proven that they know what it takes to build a successful business together, to drive sustainable growth in a digital world. With their teams and the support of Publicis Groupe as a whole, I know that they will take Epsilon to new heights.” 

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