Outspoken Hong Kong digital-advertising entrepreneur Kevin Huang has resigned from his post as DaVinci11's Asia Pacific managing director. He will also end his involvement with the Hong Kong chapter of the IAB, which he played a key role in bringing to the city.
Huang is best known as the founder of Pixel Media, the ad-reselling company he started in 2002 when he bought out DoubleClick Hong Kong’s operation, which was rebranded several times over the years: to Pixels, then Gravity4 (when it was acquired in November 2015) and then DaVinci11 in April this year.
Huang confirmed to Campaign Asia-Pacific that he submitted his resignation in April and is due to depart at the end of June.
"I've been an entrepreneur for 16 years [in Hong Kong], said Huang, whose first job was selling banner ads for the online edition of Malaysia's oldest English newspaper 21 years ago. "I want to take a step back and take a break for at least six months."
DaVinci11 is working to offer a suite of AI-based tools to complement its programmatic advertising solutions, which have seen increasing adoption in the region, particularly in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Southeast Asia.
"The business is at a place where I'm confident the new management is able to take over my duties, which will be divvied up by the current eight most senior managers at DaVinci11 Asia Pacific before a replacement is in place," Huang said.
"Sixteen years as an entrepreneur is a long time," he added. His future plans are to sign up for intensive Mandarin-language classes. In a professional capacity, his interests skew towards angel investing and startup mentoring in the technology and digital fields.
"I want to see what else is out there," Huang said. "The industry is now so operationally complex that I don't have spare time to explore what's outside of the business."
Hong Kong's digital advertising progress had been too slow for Huang's liking in the past, but he said that did not influence his departure decision.
"The great work of the IAB HK has helped accelerate that process," he said. "It’s moving in the right direction, with digital taking more than half of all adspend, and growing. I am pleased with the industry’s progress. My plan, really, is to rest and reset."
Herbert Lam, head of digital marketing at Sun Life Financial Asia, told Campaign Asia-Pacific that "no words can fully describe Kevin’s passion and tenacity" in helping clients conquer digital advertising. "It is amazing to watch how he adapts to the fast-changing market landscape with such fluidity," Lam said. "Kevin’s definitely been a leader in shaping and evolving the industry, and there is no doubt his next step will be evolutionary.”
As Huang's industry peer for almost 20 years, Victor Cheng, North Asia VP at ComScore, said Huang's name will always be linked with Hong Kong's digital history. "For the past two decades, Kevin not only built up a very successful company but opened a window for international online publishers like MSN to enter the HK market. His leadership, passion and vision make him a true digital hero for HK."