Fronteer Spotlight: A chat with CMO Anthony Kennada

Our Fronteer Spotlight series highlights our team culture, the work we do, and what inspires us every day. Interested in joining the Front team? Check out our job openings.

We’re thrilled to welcome Anthony Kennada to the Front team as our Chief Marketing Officer. Anthony joins us from Gainsight, the customer success company that fueled the rise of a brand new industry in customer success.

During Anthony’s time at Gainsight, the company grew from a few hundred thousand of ARR to nearly nine digits, opened offices in Phoenix and London, and created the Pulse brand which — earlier this year — hosted a 5,500-person industry conference at San Francisco’s Moscone Center. In October 2019, Anthony published his first book on the art and science of category creation.

We're excited to have you with us, Anthony! Tell us a little about yourself.

A: I’m originally from Los Angeles, but have spent the last decade working in the Bay Area. Last year, my wife Brittany and I, along with our daughter Cienna, moved to Phoenix to put some roots down for our family.

When not hanging out with the family, you can usually find me watching Lakers basketball or pretending like I know what I’m talking about when it comes to wine. A fun fact about me is that English is actually my second language — I grew up speaking Arabic at home as my family immigrated to the US from Lebanon in the late 1970s. Just don’t ask me to read or write, because I can’t 🤓.

What excites you about this opportunity at Front?

A: Front has an incredible opportunity to reinvent the most ubiquitous channel of business communication across the globe in email. Over 250M knowledge workers today use email in order to get their work done, and yet, the incumbent solutions are the same services used by consumers that haven’t really seen much innovation since the early 1990s.

Front is built from the ground up with business communication and workflows in mind, and as a result, can help teams focus their efforts on work that actually matters while also delivering better outcomes for their teammates, customers, and partners. I’m super excited about the opportunity to work on a problem that impacts a market this large, with a product this innovative, and a team this impressive and purpose-led.

Can you tell us how you landed in marketing and how your atypical career journey influences your approach to this job?

A: Looking back, there were several signals in my life that I should be a marketer — I just couldn’t connect the dots. I was on prom committee in high school, did several things for my fraternity like design t-shirts and manage the website, and my job in college was to host concerts (like Jimmy Eat World and Third Eye Blind) on campus.

But professionally, I found myself in Sales, Business Development, and Product Management positions before joining Gainsight as the first marketer in 2013. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Marketing itself is a discipline that is constantly being reinvented and requires a healthy dose of creativity-first principles to deliver great work. Also, walking in the shoes of nearly every other department within an organization gives me a unique appreciation for the outcomes they are trying to drive towards, and how marketing can play a big part of their success as well.

What’s your first impression of the culture at Front so far?

A: The Front culture is incredible — it’s unique in business to find a group of individuals that have such high standards for themselves and each other, and yet, operate with such care and low ego in how they go about working together. It shows up in the day-to-day details, but also in some of the awesome traditions that the company has developed such as an employee-led musical theater production (not kidding) every December. I feel like I have met my people, and consider myself super lucky to have the opportunity to work with them every day.

Now that you’ve been at Front a week or two, what’s your favorite part about using our product?

A: I know it’s early days, but it’s already hard to believe that a company can be productive without using Front. At previous jobs, I had to create my own “system” for managing my inbox that today can be automated with the rules engine that sits at the heart of the Front platform. The ability to collaborate internally on external emails right at the message level is a game changer, as is the transparency that Front enables as the discussion takes shape.

I’ve been able to respond faster to clients, candidates, and partners, but also respond smarter because I had the answers that I needed from my teammates (especially as the ‘new guy’). The partner integrations have also been extremely helpful — bringing in context from systems like Salesforce and others that would have otherwise taken several tabs and navigation in order to find.

What led you to write a book on category creation?

A: Our experience in creating the customer success category at Gainsight was super unique — there weren’t a lot of widely-adopted best practices on how to actually create a market. We used a lot of first principles thinking, and in talking to some of my peers that had done it before, it turns out that there were some common beliefs that we all together held. I wanted to write the book so that other marketers, founders, or executives wouldn’t have to start from scratch like we did, but instead, would have an operator’s playbook to creating a category that a CFO or board member would appreciate.

What is Front’s category?

A: I’ve been asked this question a lot 😄. Front has such a unique opportunity in that the company sits at the intersection of an existing software category in email management, and yet, integrates powerful corporate workflows that make it look like a product category all its own. This is a process that we’re going to spend a lot of time in the early innings of 2020 working on in order to articulate.

The reality is that beyond the product category lies a far more important discussion in the philosophy behind why it matters that Front improves the email and communication challenges that all working professionals feel today. We’re becoming more over-worked, burned out, and addicted to “staying busy” rather than working intentionally and with purpose. Front has an opportunity to help bring the humanity back into the workplace, and I’m thrilled to help tell that story.

We’ve heard you’ve helped make a few videos in your career. In your opinion, what’s the best TV show of all time?

A: Oh man — we had a lot of fun with video at Gainsight. My favorite campaigns were either Carpool Karaoke with Aaron Levie (CEO at Box), the behind the music video for an (actual) hip hop song we released, or the announcement video for our 90s themed conference.

The answer to your question is that Friends is easily the best TV show of all time, but we got a lot of inspiration as marketers from keeping a close eye on pop culture and bringing a lot of those ideas into our Business-to-Business (B2B) world. As an example, viral late night TV segments gave us plenty of ideas that we thought were worthy of spoofing.

Why Front is a better way to manage your email