“Never Give It Away”

By Ben Ari | Authority Magazine - Thrive Global | Nov 19, 2020
  • Technology
  • Marketing
  • Lead Generation
  • Innovation
  • Gig Economy
  • Business Growth
  • Networking

Authority Magazine

By Ben Ari | Columnist at Authority Magazine | 7 MIN READ


Article Extract: Thomas O’Malley: “Never Give It Away”


I had the pleasure to interview Tom O’Malley is founder and CEO of Currnt, a marketing intelligence startup that uses AI to recruit on-demand, curated teams of experts for virtual focus groups and ongoing advisory boards. Tom launched Currnt in 2015 while living in Palo Alto, and fulfilled his vision for the company to be fully remote and 90% gig in 2018. Prior to Currnt, he held various senior leadership positions at Oracle, Avaya and Qwest Communications. Tom received his MBA from the University of Chicago — Booth School of Business and his bachelor’s degree in business from Emory University — Goizueta Business School.  As a demonstration of the work-from-anywhere culture, Tom resides in the resort town of Coronado, Calif. with his wife and two daughters.

About Currnt: Currnt is the world’s first knowledge-networking platform that connects curated groups of professionals and brands for accelerated innovation and marketing. The company’s proprietary technology allows clients to leverage AI to source bespoke professional groups and sponsor facilitated online focus groups and ongoing advisory boards that yield actionable insights, credible thought leadership, and relevant relationships, simultaneously with little effort and great reliability. Currnt works with more than 75 companies across major industries, including technology, healthcare, consumer products and professional services. The company was launched in 2015 in Palo Alto, Calif. and today is fully-remote with 5 full time employees and more than 30,000 gig participants. For more information, visit


Never give it away. Once you give your product away, you will never be able to charge for it. A free pilot means the customer won’t value it and then the pilot invariably fails.


Thank you for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Twenty years in large enterprise taught me that companies tend not to engage with their market in meaningful ways and miss huge and sometimes obvious opportunities. After seven years in a strategy role at Oracle, I became convinced companies need to learn faster by collaborating with their market. They say if you are bothered about something enough, you have to create a startup to solve the problem…so I did.



Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I met my first investor in the parking lot of a restaurant on Sand Hill Road. An ex pro NFL’r, he is a physically massive man and I made some comment about how his car fit him like a glove. Continuing idle chat on our way into the restaurant, we ended up at the bar together and had a few drinks and laughs. Turned out we were both from Cleveland, and shared similar values. I stayed in touch with him for a couple months, until finally he took a meeting to hear more about my business. Today, he is still my most active investor and advisor, and we have become great friends.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I think it’s the fundamental and practical need we solve for: companies need to talk to their market. Yes, we use some really cool technology to find and engage them, but the idea is really quite simple…companies should engage their professional target market, learn from them and leverage their voice in their marketing. [...]


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