My Digital Hero: Chris Maples

We’re asking some ofour industry’s leading figures to nominate their digital hero and to explainwhat’s so special about them.

Chris Maples is a towering, in many ways, figure in thedigital industry. Until recently CEO of MetFilm Group, he previously held senior roles at companies like Spotify, Bigballs Films, Microsoft and Channel 4.

Who is your digital hero?

This question has given me a more than a few sleepless nights. Having spent a long period of time at Spotify, it was very difficult not to choose Daniel Ek. He is the single most impressive person I’ve ever spent any time with and has obviously built an incredible service that has changed the way the world listens to music.

However, there was a name that just kept coming back to me, and while he’s a very good friend (and therefore I’m naturally loath to compliment him) my digital hero has to be Bruce Daisley

What have they done to win hero status in your eyes?

The digital world has been beset with issues that are both complex and yet feel simplistic at heart. Most of the issues around transparency, fraud, challenging trading practices etc, all seem to boil down to the same thing, is the ‘right’ thing being done.

In over twenty years of being a colleague, a peer and a friend,and obviously as the steward of some platforms that have had challenges, I have never known Bruce do anything other than the right thing. He has a moral framework that is genuinely enviable, and an outlook and perspective on the industry that is second to none.

He also refuses to take himself too seriously. When he told me he was putting together a podcast, or had abook deal I couldn’t be more pleased, as his opinions are undoubtedly ones that I plagiarise more than anyone’s and therefore the world needs to hear his views.

But of course, what are Bruce’s podcasts and book about? Tools to make everyone’s life better. Very typical Bruce (who also volunteers at a soup kitchen on Christmas Day fyi).

He’s also one of the best speakers I’ve ever seen, and I know full well that he adopts Alan Coren’s mantra – ‘if you can’t be funny or interesting- how dare you take up anyone’s time’. Bruce is always funny and interesting. 

How has their heroism helped drive digital?

Integrity is the word that continues to spin around my head when I think about his contribution to the digital industry. Bruce has approached the industry, in all its various stages of development, with the utmost integrity and a passion to ensure that the industry is a force for good.

He’s also singlehandedly one of the biggest content creators in the history of the world – so that must have helped.

What the biggest challenges in digital we need another hero to solve?

Those hackneyed slides we’ve all seen presented at marketing conferences (the adtech landscape, the martech landscape etc etc) demonstrate a huge issue. There are more businesses (and therefore more workforce) than the industry in its current form can possibly support long term. 

Having been looking for a role for some months in the industry, I can attest to the fact that this is a challenging employment market, and I believe this to be about to get a lot worse.

There is also an epidemic across the business of the ‘celebrity industry person’ whereby people’s opinions appears to be more important than the actual work being done. That more than anything needs fixing.

What is your most heroicpersonal achievement so far in digital?

I mean obviously I followed Bruce when I was awarded  ‘the greatest individual contribution to new media” award by New Media Age in 2012. The fact that that publication closed down soon afterwards I believe was merely a coincidence.

I’m very proud of some of the teams I’ve lead, and get a real buzz to see how successful many of those individuals have become. Outside of that, I hope that I’ve always given my time to help anyone in the industry that I could.