Mercer Rowe is Augury’s new VP of Strategic Alliances. With a solid track-record of setting up partnerships for Fortune 500 companies and startups, Mercer knows what makes joint ventures tick – and what it takes to build enduring relationships.
“As Augury continues on its category creation journey, the strategic importance of building our ecosystem and engaging with partners continues to grow,” says CEO Saar Yoskovitz. And already various OEMs such as Grundfos, Carrier, and Schneider Electric have selected Augury as crucial to their business going forward.
In order to help scale these efforts, Mercer Rowe joined Augury in September 2021 as the new VP of Strategic Alliances. He comes with an impressive resume. He first made his mark with startup Arkivio when he executed the company’s first partnerships from scratch. “Nothing like a trial-by-fire experience to help you understand how to build every part of a partnership,” recalls Mercer.
He then went on to build and run a joint venture between VMware and SoftBank in Japan, where he led new business ventures, drove disruptive technologies to market and built new business models. More recently, he was the VP of Strategic Partners at IBM Watson Cloud where he built partnerships to deliver Watson technology across the globe.
We sat down with Mercer to talk about his career and how he sees his role unfolding at Augury as he builds a team to move the company’s strategic goals forward.
How do you see your job as VP of Strategic Alliances in the simplest of terms?
The Alliances Team is that part of Augury that expands our business by working effectively with partners. Of course, there are many layers to this. But if you want Augury’s mission to succeed – to build a world where people can always rely on the machines that matter – it only makes sense to work with the companies that build the machines.
You’ve been around the block – and the world – enjoying a very successful career. But looking back, what has been your biggest disappointment?
Just before I came to Augury, I spent a number of years convinced that there was big business in digital transformation – I was doing this most notably with IBM where I led business development for the Watson organization – but I hadn’t realized how impossible it can be for some larger companies to transform.
Some companies just didn’t have the stamina to execute on those transformations. And I see two major reasons. One is indeed the culture of large companies that do not encourage risk-taking – when transformation by definition is a risky exercise. Another key element is investors. While many might cheer companies to digitally transform, once there’s any kind of revenue dip, investors panic – even when they’ve been warned to expect that dip as a natural part of the process.
Do you think Augury can avoid these pitfalls while helping companies to not only protect their machines but also digitally transform in the process?
I think Augury has huge growth potential since we are in a great position to meet these companies where they are from a transformational perspective. We don’t necessarily have to be hung up on the timeline of their transformation since some will not actually transform. Augury is actually well-positioned to be successful in spite of that, as opposed to having to be accountable for it. And I think that’s a very important factor for success in today’s market.
When was the exact moment with Augury that you decided: ‘Consider me onboard!’
In the summer I came to New York for what I call my “unpaid internship”, which was a unique kind of interview process. I met the team, we did a workshop, I gave some thoughts on business and so forth. And it turned into the most fun interview process I’ve ever been through. I really thought: this is a great team and the culture is really strong.
There are so many good ideas in the market, there are not so many good companies.
At this point in my career, I’ve seen a lot of different company cultures. And I have come to realize that while there are so many good ideas in the market, there are not so many good companies. And I think this is probably why so many growth companies fail at so many different stages. It’s not because they have bad ideas, it’s almost always because of the culture going to execution. Of course, execution remains paramount, but you need a good culture to make it truly happen.
We’ll return to your long-term goals once you are more settled, but what are your short-term goals?
Learn. Deep dive into what’s already been done so I can then organize and build a next-phase strategy. And then it will be about alignment: getting everyone at Augury excited about this strategy.
Any other messages to your new colleagues – or the world?
I’m very excited to be here. From the moment I heard about Augury and what they were doing, I knew this was going to be a partner play – alliances are what will truly take us to the next level.
Welcome aboard, Mercer. We’re very happy you’ve joined.
Read more about Augury’s vision around partnerships.