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'He shaped the scene we know today' – a tribute to Phil Cooper

By Andy Oakes | MD and Founder

July 5, 2019 | 6 min read

Last week we heard the sad but not unexpected news that Phil Cooper had finally succumbed to cancer. For those of us who have been around the digital media scene for a few years, Phil’s passing was the end of an era and we lost someone who shaped the scene we know today.

phil cooper

Phil has already founded and sold 50Connect before he started uTarget where he really started to make his mark. uTarget was one of the first video ad networks and it rapidly built up impressive revenues before selling to Fox Networks in 2008. Phil assumed the position of chief executive in the UK and Germany and became a leading figure in video ad networks across Europe. Phil then took on a leading role in Brightroll as it relaunched in Europe before it too was sold, this time to Yahoo.

As ever he saw the viability in new ideas and started at one of the first native adworks in NeonCandi before then seeing the potential of cycling where to all our surprises, Phil got healthy, got himself into lycra and took up the chief marketing officer position at PedalSure before his last startup BikeBible.

Everybody has their favourite Phil story, some more hair-raising than others. We all knew Phil as the life and soul of the party, the guy that built a company and then sold it for a fortune, the guy with yellow Lamborghini. I particularly remember a lunch with him and my team at NMA, which started on Friday and ended for some on Sunday afternoon. But there was much more to Phil than that. Those that really knew him talk of his warm spirit, his generosity, his innovative views on the business and the love he had for his wife Debbie and his children, Milo and Lexi

I’ve asked around some of his closest friends for their Phil stories and how they will remember the man we knew and loved.

Charlie Whittingham, BrightRoll

In early 2011, Phil Cooper opened the London office of BrightRoll with his trademark tenacity, energy, enthusiasm and thirst for success. This may come as a shock to some, but to mark that opening we had a very fun, festive launch party that Phil orchestrated brilliantly and off we went to build a very successful business in the nascent online video category.

Along that journey, Phil did what he did often in our business and did so very well – he built an absolutely amazing team of talent that rocked the business, helped BrightRoll find its stride and whom remain close friends to this day. Phil was a creator, a connector and a character in the best sense of the word whose glint, wink, smile and style will be missed but never forgotten.

Toby Harwood, Target Visibility

Phil was one of the first startup entrepreneurs that I ever met. He had so many ideas and ambitions it was often hard to keep track. From 50 Connect to BikeBible he was a born innovator. Phil was always available to people and could be counted on to be the life and soul of the party, putting others first. His energy and passion set him apart. 15 years is a long time in our industry, yet from the first time that we met I knew he was a decent human being and we would always be friends. The last time that I saw Phil was a couple of weeks ago, we went fishing, talked for hours and it touched me how his drive and ambition wasn’t affected by illness - nothing could take that away from him.

Stephanie Pilon,

I’m so grateful for everything he taught me, the career lessons, love advice, and real (fun) life experiences. He was smart as a whip, hilarious, and always kind right down to his bones.

Chris Childs, Tabmo

Some of my greatest memories are our early trips to San Francisco. Always one to do things in style, the first time we went Phil had arranged for a pimped up 4x4 to collect us from the airport. Like something out of a music video and just a few months into my new job, I felt like I had arrived. Phil had this way of making you feel a part of something special. Having worked with Phil, you almost feel a part of an exclusive club.

Sumaia Migou, Just Premium

Phil helped people at every opportunity, saw the best in people, and inspired so many both in business but also on a personal level. He put the same effort into beating cancer as he did to business right to the end but this one was sadly a job too big.

We will miss him and his mad ways dearly and never forget his big heart, kind generosity and straight talking approach. I’m forever grateful to have met him and had his guidance.

Nandi Gurprasad, digital exec and entrepreneur

As a professional, his approach to business was authentic and non-pushy, with deep savvy of the industry. He founded and exited uTarget long before video was in vogue – a true entrepreneur who can get things done while maintain life-long relationships. He respected people and valued partnership.

Rest in peace Phil. You were truly one of a kind

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