Mat Baxter joins Mutinex as APAC CEO: ‘Good luck to anybody else’

Mutinex - Mat Baxter and Henry Innis

Mediaweek talks to Baxter and Henry Innis: “You don’t hire leaders like Mat Baxter unless you know you’re strapping in for a roller coaster ride of growth.”

Mat Baxter is joining the marketing investment analytics company Mutinex as its APAC CEO, following the former Initiative and Huge boss’ return to Australia earlier this year.

“I did not want to fall back into a well-trodden track of doing the agency thing. I really made a point of that,” he told Mediaweek of deciding to join the disruptor led by Henry Innis. “I said publicly that I would not do anything that isn’t hyper-disruptive.

“This was the only thing I saw that was hyper-disruptive, that got me excited. When Henry showed me the product, I was like, fuck, I’m doing this 100%.”

Baxter has also invested $500,000 in the business, a “no brainer” decision: “Number one, I want to make money, of course. But number two, because I believe in the business, I wanted to put capital into the business because I think it’s a great investment.”

Baxter begins as APAC CEO immediately. Innis, who now steps up to a global CEO role, didn’t pull any punches when describing the impact he expects Baxter to make, quickly.

“You don’t hire leaders like Mat Baxter unless you know you’re strapping in for a roller coaster ride of growth,” Innis told Mediaweek.

Mat is going to ship product at such a relentless rate that there will be no other tech company shipping product as quickly as us within six months. There will also be no other product getting customers to get value out of it as quickly in six months. 

“If that’s the partnership that we form, all I’d say is good luck to anybody else.”

Baxter said he sees part of his role as harnessing and focusing Mutinex co-founders’ [Innis and Matt Farrugia] genius on a world-class product.

“This product as a whole is a killer app, and my job is to share it with as many clients as I can and to get the most commercial value and client value out of it that I possibly can. That’s why I’m pumped.”

‘I want to be with people who are disruptive and difficult’

Baxter shared that there was also an “emotional” motivation for his decision to join Mutinex.

“I haven’t felt like I’ve met a kindred sort of spirit for a long time in my career. But for the first time since Naked [Communications, which was founded 20 years ago this month], after I met with Henry Innis and Matt Farrugia, I walked away, and I was excited about this,” he said. 

“It’s an intangible excitement that is different to the corporate role and the normal thing that would motivate me.

“I want to be with people who are disruptive and difficult. They will be like, all founders are difficult. They’ve all got their own ideas and opinions about stuff, but that’s what makes the job exciting. 

“I am genuinely excited about it, and that is a long time coming – it’s been 15 or 20 years. I’m also motivated by getting back into something where I really feel like we can shape the industry.”

‘I will drive the business in the way that I need’

Baxter plans to hit the ground running at Mutinex by establishing “a hyper-engaging and exciting mission” and having one-on-one meetings with every individual during his first two weeks.

“[The mission] has to be understood by everybody, not just Henry, me, and Matt. From the coder who’s just started with us to the senior leadership, that mission will create the motivation.”

The second part of his plan is to work on winning the trust and confidence of the business’ people.

“That’s not done in five days, but it starts on day one,” Baxter said. “I’ve told the guys I want to have a quick get-together with the whole company on my first day. I will give people my commitment to what I want to achieve and what I hope they will give me back in return.”

Baxter said his job is to keep the 60-plus people in the business “as energised, enthused, and motivated as possible and to get the best product out of them that I possibly can.”

“That’s my job, that’s what I’ll do – and I’ll throw a few grenades in there, as you know,” he joked.

“I will drive the business in the way that I need. We have to call things out, hold ourselves accountable and drive the business aggressively.”

‘I’m back with the industry’

Baxter’s appointment is a major coup for co-founders Innis and Farrugia, who plan to grow Mutinex in New York and spend more time stateside.

Innis said the process for finding an APAC CEO began six months ago.

“We were looking for someone with industry experience who deeply understood the problem and the problem faced by customers first and foremost, and then the benefits that a technology and product-led approach would take to solving these problems at scale.

“On top of that, we also had a cultural fit and the ability to actually take what we were doing from a product perspective and amplify it both in the market and in the customer benefits that we’re positioned to market.”

Farrugia, chief customer officer, echoed Innis’ sentiment and said with the business’ expansion, Mutinex needed a “seasoned professional” to helm APAC.

“Henry and I know our strengths; we know our limitations as we grow globally. In doing that, we feel we’ve absolutely got that in Mat,” he said.

Baxter’s return to the Australian industry after eight years with Huge in New York continues the reshaping of the local industry landscape. Last week, Baxter’s former home Initiative lost its three most senior leaders with Melissa Fein, Sam Geer, and Chris Colter defecting to Accenture Song.

“I love the vibrancy and the energy in Australia,” Baxter said. “Australia punches well above its weight. So, Australia is my home. I love coming back. I’m back with family. I’m back with the industry.”

Top image: Baxter and Innis

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