Matthew Miller
Jul 30, 2019

Ex-WPP exec 'G-Man' Ragothaman details blockchain venture

Gowthaman 'G-Man' Ragothaman's Aqilliz will focus on applying distributed-ledger technology from Zilliqa in digital advertising.

Gowthaman 'G-Man' Ragothaman
Gowthaman 'G-Man' Ragothaman

Gowthaman 'G-Man' Ragothaman, former global client lead at WPP, has announced the launch of Aqilliz, a blockchain solutions provider focused on digital marketing.

Created in collaboration with Singapore-based blockchain developer Zilliqa (note the mirror-image company names), Aqilliz will, according to Ragothaman, help create more trust, transparency, and engagement in the digital ecosystem.

"Aqilliz is my passion that is built on the conviction that distributed-ledger technology will be able to unify the technology across consumers, brands and platforms to provide a balanced ecosystem for everybody to benefit," Ragothaman told Campaign Asia-Pacific.

Before departing WPP in January after 20 years, mostly with Mindshare, Ragothaman was, in addition to WPP global client lead, also global blockchain solutions lead at GroupM. In that role he partnered with Zilliqa and then launch a blockchain pilot project with MediaMath, Integral Ad Science and Rubicon Project, which later claimed it reduced cost per viewable impression for PepsiCo by 28%

Aqilliz will build on that success, Ragothaman said, by creating bespoke solutions for enterprises in the areas of reconciliation; verification and authentication of transaction parties; and risk mitigation in costs and consumer outcomes.

Ragothaman will officially join Aqilliz as CEO in October. The company, incubated by Singapore-based Anquan, expects to be onboarding clients by the end of the year. The collaboration with Aqilliz will accelerate the adoption of Zilliqa's high-throughput public blockchain, according to Max Kantelia, co-founder of Zilliqa and Anquan.

The idea of a more equitable ecosystem is what convinced Ragothaman to leave the media-agency world, he said. 

"When I joined advertising, fresh out of an engineering college in 1990, it required a lot of thinking and explanation, both to myself, and to everyone around me, as to why I chose advertising over engineering," he told Campaign. "If I reflect back on the same, it was the curiosity to know consumers and trends that pushed me to take that decision." 

Nearly 30 years on, the influence and the importance of technology "cannot be underestimated" and is poised to have a "profound" impact, he added. "Thanks to the rise of internet platforms, consumers are now able to engage back, and it is no longer a one-way communication. The consumer is the king, and we all know it. It is just that the consumers were not aware of it. It did not matter earlier, but now it matters the most, that they know it. It is my conviction that unifiying the technology across consumers, brands and the platforms is one of the routes to get there, which is what prompted me to step outside the agency world to play an influencing role at the intersection of all the three stakeholders."

Zilliqa has partnerships in financial services, payments, gaming and digital entertainment. The company's key innovation, which led to it hitting US$1 billion in market capitalisation, is a technique for 'sharding' blockchain processes—a necessity for making the computing-intensive technology more scalable.

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