Engage Page: Getting to Know Eric Tobias

Aug 01, 2012 10:50 AM  By

What did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to be an NBA basketball player. I was ball boy for the Indiana Pacers in high school, long after my hoop dreams were over, so it was like living my dream vicariously. Really, I wanted to be just like my Dad. Coolest dude I know.

If you could have one super-hero power, what would it be?
I’d like to be able to read people’s minds. That would make things so much easier.

If a genie were to grant you one wish, what would it be?
I only get one wish? Impossible! I’d love to have dinner with Adam Duritz, the lead singer of Counting Crows. I’ve been following the band (literally) for 20 years. I lost track, but I think I’ve been to 48 concerts—so it’s a borderline obsession. Dinner would be good.

Okay, the Genie says you can have a second wish: What would you like?
More time. It’s the most important resource in my personal and professional life and I just never seem to have enough of it.

What social media do you personally use?
I’m fairly active on Twitter and Facebook. And I’ve been using Instagram for the last couple of months and I’m really digging it. I also use Formspring and Pinterest.

What’s on your Pinterest board?
Lots of house stuff lately because we’ve been remodeling our house. I also like to track inspirational quotes and pictures of my cool T-shirts.

Other than your own, what apps do you most use on your iPad or iPhone?
I check our projects at work using the Liquid Planner app, and I use Evernote to store tweets that I want to save to read later. I use Mint to keep my finances in-order, and I’m partial to Dropbox so I always have access to my stuff. As boring as it sounds, I check weather apps like WeatherBug more than I’d like to admit, and I use the built-in task management to keep myself organized. I travel a lot so I use Kayak to check flights and JetSetter for deals on boutique hotels.

Radio apps, or iTunes?
I’m fairly favorable to iTunes because I buy a new album every week. I’m religious about it. Music discovery gets harder and harder and I’m a big fan of albums. I like to listen to what an artist puts together in terms of the collection. So I purchase a new album every week and I listen to it while I run that week. It’s my personal guilty pleasure.

What’s your favorite destination, for business, pleasure or both?
For business, I’m partial to New York City. I really love the neighborhoods—especially SoHo. I always stay at the Mercer Hotel because it’s right around the corner from one of our customers, and it’s a great spot for celebrity sightings. I’ve hung out with Mike Meyers, Courtney Love and Kanye West in their intimate lobby bar. For personal travel, I enjoy spending time in northern Indiana. The Amish have roadside farmers markets, which are known for their fresh produce. Nothing beats Indiana sweet corn in the summer. New York City to the Amish country. That about sums me up.

What makes Indianapolis such a great city?
So many reasons—from the vibrancy of the technology start-up scene to the mentorship provided by some of the latest tech success stories, like Exact Target or Angie’s List, the access to passionate leaders is contagious. Indianapolis has a thriving art and food scene, with events like Dig-In, which celebrates organic, local food growers and chefs.

One of the things I’m involved in is a place called The Speakeasy, which is a Moose Lodge for Geeks, and provides Indianapolis with a co-working space that is better than anything you’ll find on the coasts. And—for someone with three children—there is no better place to raise a family. The Indianapolis Children’s Museum and Zoo are world class, and the cost of living allows me to actually take them to those places. Pretty cool.

Would your high-school teachers be surprised by your career choice?
Probably not. I think I was ahead of my time in terms of gravitating toward technology. I recently saw a friend from high school who was quick to remind me that I was the only person in our class to have his own laptop.

Tablet users are starting to make a big impact in ecommerce. Overall, do you think retailers will be ready for tablet commerce this holiday season?
A number of our customers are making investments in the tablet experience. I think the holiday season will be better for consumers who shop via tablets but it’s still early in the revolution of these devices. In looking at consumer feedback, many of the same challenges exist for tablets that used to exist for websites. Obviously retailers have focused on optimizing websites for 15 years now so part of the challenge is time. We do expect the percentage of buyers shopping on a tablet to be significant this season.

Will Google Shopping change consumers’ buying habits, or make things more complex for retailers?
I think a little of both. Our retail customers are very interested in leveraging Google. I think it’s unclear how consumers will react to this.