Pioneer is a term that gets used pretty liberally in this sector, but it actually applies to Drew Topel – who has been around digital signage for more than a decade and through circumstances out of his control is now looking around for a good new challenge.
When Haivision acquired CoolSign this fall, the usual thing happened. The buyer figured out what and who they already had, and they didn’t need two guys in charge of software development.
So Topel – based out of the Orange County, California-area – was not kept on, and is getting the word around that he’s available … ideally for a full-time gig running a software development team, or Plan B doing projects as a consultant.
I’ve been to a CoolSign training boot camp, and after the vicious hazing rituals, merciless push-up demands and hours of PowerPoints and flow charts, I hung out a little with Drew and colleagues over drinks, getting to know him and his background.
He was VP of Technology and Advanced Product Development at CoolSign, but has now left that gig after a two-year stint. That was his second time around with CoolSign, having been with them from 1999 to 2006 (a time when the company also started the AdSpace mall network).
Topel goes way back with CoolSign founder Lou Giacalone, and when Lou went to Titan, so eventually did Topel – developing solutions that tied the needs of a new digital advertising system into the business requirements of a traditional OOH media selling company.
Prior to that he was at Progressive Gaming Inc. (PGI), where he directed the sales strategy, software development, and marketing efforts for casino-focused digital signage. PGI was also a CoolSign customer. He was focused there on systems that drove slot revenue, but were accessible and easy to use for customers.
Before he got into this sector through CoolSign and AdSpace, Topel was deep into multimedia and game development – working at Silicon Gaming and Electronic Arts, among others, since 1983.
All told, he has almost three decades of experience in getting and managing compelling visuals on digital screens. The guys who’ve been with CoolSign a long time have had a bunch of bumps with acquisitions and changes, and the business side got a little rough in the past year because of investors, but I don’t know of anyone who has anything bad to say about the platform that Topel developed. Talented, experienced guy.
Here’s his Linked in profile: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/drew-topel/0/b7/604
You can reach him at DrewTopel [at] yahoo.com
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.