An Angel in New York: Stephen Messer



Stephen Messer is the Co-Founder and Vice Chairman of Collectivei. The company launched in 2007 to help businesses better analyze their data for performance optimization. This increases the performance of sales, marketing and customer relations. Collective[i] is highly comprehensive and allows business leaders to get a panoramic view of the businesses’ successes and failures.

Messer is also the Chairman of the Council for Accountable Advertising, an industry association for “best-of-breed” advertising technologies, its goal being to allow its customers to realize the full potential of technology via collaboration, research and best practices. Messer is also the Co-Founder and President of World Evolved, an online platform for global investment, which he co-founded with his sister, Heidi Messer.

Prior to this, he and his sister co-founded LinkShare Corporation in 1996. LinkShare provides ecommerce businesses with a various online marketing services, including Affiliate Marketing, Lead Generation and Search Marketing. The Messer managed LinkShare until 2005, when it was acquired by Rakuten for $425 million. Now called Rakuten LinkShare, the company lays claim to being not only a central forerunner in affiliate online marketing, but also to having created the largest network of affiliate partners of any program provider.

Messer attended the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University, and prior to founding LinkShare, was Assistant Director of the Columbia University Institute of Tele-Information (CITI), where he produced and directed studies on cyber-communications and telecommunications. Messer also sits on the boards of other venture-funded companies and is a Limited Partner in many venture capital companies.

Company/VC Firm:

Co-founder & Vice Chairman of Collective[i]
Co-founder of World Evolved LLC

Sector Focus:

Analytics, Information Technology, Business

Selected Investment:

Co-founded LinkShare: sold to Rakuten for $425m


Cross Commerce Media
Council for Accountable Advertising
World Evolved LLC
LinkShare Corporation

Expertise areas:

Law, Technology, Startups, Angel Investing, Capital Raising, Entrepreneurship, Business Intelligence, Analytics, Marketing, predictive analytics, Board Role, Web Systems

Websites & Twitter:

Entrepreneur Week

Memorable Quotes:

On the key to his success:

“The key to my success was bringing together a great team and knowing when the team needs adjustment. As much as you emotionally form bonds with people and like people, different people do better at different stages of a company-and this has nothing to do with their skill sets. In fact, I would say that the earlier stage skill set is much harder to acquire, since those people must have a strong backbone to handle the challenges and obstacles. It is not the same type of person you need when you need someone to manage teams of people.”

On his criteria for hiring employees:

It all depends upon the role I am hiring them for. In certain roles I look for certain traits. For example, in a sales role, I look for the fearless person who has great sales skills. I don’t necessarily want a fearless person in my accounting control group: I want a person who is afraid of everything, checking, rechecking and ensuring everything is accurate.

On the underdog businesses:

“The only other thing I’d probably add is that sometimes the least pretty businesses are the best ones to be focused on. So, we’re glad that we’re not necessarily in the paper every day. What we focus on is continuing to the build a solid strong business over time.”

On Venture Capitalists:

“You’ll get better terms from the Mafia.”

About the author: Sarah Tibbling

Sarah Tibbling is a recent graduate from William Paterson University where she was the editor-in-chief of the university’s literary magazine, Zeitgeist. She is a copyediting intern for AlleyWatch and enjoys books, cats and the endless social media scroll.

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