Paul Adams, who was previously Facebook’s global head of brand design, has joined a startup called Intercom, where he will be serving as head of product design.
Adams told me earlier that he wasn’t looking to leave Facebook, but he had also been advising Intercom and became excited about the opportunity. The startup, which is backed by Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, 500 Startups and others, offers tools for online businesses to track every interaction with a customer and to use that data to deliver personalized messages and offers.
When I suggested that this sounds like a shift from Adams’ previous work in advertising, he didn’t entirely disagree, but he also said Intercom’s work ties into the themes he’s been exploring at Facebook, which have also been expressed in his talks and his book Grouped. (In addition, Adams is known for his work at Google, particularly a presentation that seemed to outline many of the ideas that eventually shaped Google+.)
Adams argues that in the future, businesses’ interactions with potential customers are going to be much more personal and relationship-based, rather than following the one-to-many broadcast model of traditional advertising. Intercom facilitates those company-to-customer interactions, and he added that it’s not just a way to deliver slightly-more-targeted marketing emails.
“In the past … companies tried to minimize customer interaction,” Adams said. “They didn’t want customers to talk back to them — that was overhead. Minimizing customer interaction is a very outdated model from a pre-social web world. Intercom is very much about intimacy, very much about being personable.”
Adams will be working out of Intercom’s Dublin office — he said he had already made the move from Silicon Valley to Dublin for personal reasons.