Kjartan Slette

Co-Founder & COO, Unacast

Kjartan Slette

Co-Founder & COO, Unacast

I want to fundamentally change global industries. First was music streaming with TIDAL. Now, it’s data with Unacast.

I fell backward into tech. After over a decade in the music industry working with physical products, we were, as one of the first industries, violently disrupted by technology - in our case by Napster and digital file sharing. Our battle for survival was fought in the public domain and how badly we initially lost was visible for all to see.

We did eventually learn, and customer by customer fought our way back to relevancy through subscription-based streaming products. I was so fortunate to be part of the founding team at TIDAL and do my part there as part of the management team and head label negotiator - structuring new business models in an old industry. As Jay Z acquired the company, my colleague Thomas Walle and I moved on to something bigger: Data.

Why data? The world is becoming increasingly dependent on data to power everything from machine learning and AI to marketing, and we saw a need to fix access to and accuracy from location data. So, we founded Unacast and built the Real World Graph™.

The rest is not yet history, and as I write that history, I hope you will read, reflect and comment.

See my
articles and press mentions

Would you accept a friend request on Facebook from your toilet?

You might have heard the term, without reflecting over what it means. What it really means. They call it Internet of Things. Sensors, wireless transmitters, receivers and processors have become powerful and affordable enough to be included in everything.

How advertising technology companies conquer the world beyond advertising

Many of the defining global tech companies are built on proprietary graph data, and some of these have in turn used that strong core position to go from advertising technology to “all kinds of”-technology and industries. I will use Unacast’s proprietary graph to show how.

If data is the new oil, physical retail needs to build oil platforms - fast

I want to take the narrative further from my previous post and talk about the specific actions a physical retail store (or retail store chain) could take to get closer to that elusive digital future - and to compete as Amazon is moving in on the physical turf.

Hiring is easy. And that's why it's so hard.

I'm highlighting some of the recent articles from the Unacast blog, where we talk about hiring and how to improve hiring processes (through transparancy), and the beta launch of our Diversity Dashboard.

Why Amazon is the Napster of Retail

The digital tidal wave has and continues to alter the landscapes of most industries, and retail is the latest to find itself submerged in the sea of change. Like the rise of Napster permanently changed the way we listen to music, new technologies are now changing retail.

The importance of storytelling

Storytelling is important in most of what you do throughout a life, and especially in building companies. I learned storytelling by joining case competitions at Copenhagen Business School. So, what did I learn there?

Location data for brands: ‘Alternative facts’ no longer

As the proximity industry grows, it’s important for brands investing in location and proximity to understand the differences between the various data points and technologies on the market.

«Even rotting corpses have culture»

A recent example of how culture is itself not the solution is, of course, the troubles of Uber and its CEO Travis Kalanick. So, what went wrong?

Digital Detox 2017

How do we manage the positive and negative aspects of the mobile phone? It’s not complicated and the adjustments are small.

Top ten tips for starting a tech company when you’re from Norway

The typical recurring questions I get are: How did we initially start out, and what tips would I give to others starting companies out of Norway? So, dear Norwegian aspiring entrepreneurs, here are my top ten tips.

From zero to xerox – How we failed at diversity

I am torn as these thoughts rush through me like the windows in the boardroom were suddenly removed and the New York winter wind demands us to cool our heads and confess: We failed at diversity.

Lessons from the WiMPs who created TIDAL

This text is intended to shed some light of the early mistakes at WiMP (now TIDAL) and how the Norwegian startup ecosystem can avoid some of the same mistakes.

Proximity to 2017: Predictions

2016 was not the year of Proximity, and 2017 will not be either. The reason being that Proximity is already all around us, hiding in plain sight.

The biggest thing at Slush was this tiny map

It's always cool to meet our partners in the wild and see how they are each and everyone sensor by sensor changing the world by connecting physical to digital. At the Slush conference in Helsinki, Steerpath showed us the way forward.

Did Apple sort of announce iBeacon 2.0 by removing the headphone jack From iPhone 7?

When Apple launched its iBeacon protocol at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in 2013 it laid the foundation for an entire new industry — the proximity industry.

What do you do when one of your colleagues is choking to death?

What do you do when one of your colleagues is choking to death? What do you do when one of your employees is having a heart attack? What you do when someone is dying?

A gift from Proxbook: 55 proximity use cases

Proximity technology is thriving in commercial settings. We have compiled some of the recent uses cases from Proxbook as inspiration

I don't work for free - And neither should you

Well, that's not entirely true. I do work for free, on certain occasions.

I'm writing about beacon networks in the definitive book on proximity

Key stakeholders from the proximity industry join forces to share knowledge on beacon deployments and more

Unacast raises $5M to index the physical world

Proximity marketing is maturing as US media veterans invest in Unacast together with European VC Open Ocean Capital

Shhh! This is our plan. Tell everyone

We have written quite a few articles on our product offerings and outlook on the industry, but I recently realized that we hadn’t shared the full plan.

Don’t feed the startup

If you are non-Norwegian and given the odds you probably are, you don’t know or perhaps even care about the Norwegian startup scene. But it does exist.

One year of proximity – The Unacast journey

Unacast launched commercially at SXSW one year ago. Join us on a trip down memory lane to look back and reflect on just how far this industry has come in such a short time.

What Jay Z and TIDAL can teach us about adblocking

History doesn't always repeat itself

Yes we can! On creating the language of proximity

Building a tagging taxonomy for the proximity industry

7 proximity trends

These are the proximity and beacon trends you should know about in 2016

The pull of proximity is push

With Proximity we are finally seeing tangible potential in Internet of Things

Proximity equals success

Coca-Cola radically increased click-through rates on online ads with the use of technology from Unacast

It’s not about beacons. It’s about proximity

The new possibilities that beacons and proximity technology are ushering in are truly limitless. For the first time, businesses and brands can digitally communicate with their users based on their exact proximity to any place, or any object.

Proximity 2.0: The power of working in networks

2015 is truly shaping up to be the year of proximity, mainly driven by the explosion of beacon technology at the retailer level

Offline is no longer off limits

In Unacast we believe online retargeting from offline data to be one of the large paradigm shifts to hit advertisers and media channels in the coming years

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Business Wire

Beyond retail: Healthcare, marijuana & aerospace defense manufacturing industries turn to location technologies to prevent theft & save lives

Proximity.Directory, the world’s largest directory of proximity companies, has released its Q2 2017 Report. This is the ninth Proximity.Directory report to be released

Street Fight

Location data for brands: ‘Alternative facts’ no longer

As the proximity industry grows, it’s important for brands investing in location and proximity to understand the differences between the various data points and technologies on the market. These differentiators can greatly affect how the proximity and location data is applied towards a brand’s marketing goals.


This startup wants to be Google for the physical world

Unacast is out to change the world of advertising forever - and it just might succeed.


OpenOcean’s investment in Unacast  -  the value of high quality proximity data

In May 2015, OpenOcean invested together with Norwegian Investinor, alongside NYC media-industry veterans, such as Jonah Goodheart, Michael Barrett and Bill Wise, in proximity data company Unacast Inc.


Directory provides insight on the smartest cities

Singapore, New York, Barcelona, Oslo, London and San Francisco are the smartest cities in the world, according to the Proximity.Directory. The report finds that smart city technology is set to grow $27.5 billion annually by 2023.


The evolving road of beacon tech

When Apple launched its iBeacon protocol at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in 2013 it laid the foundation for an entire new industry — the proximity industry.

StreetFight Magazine

Unacast raises $5 Million to build beacon network

Today the company is announcing that it has raised $5 million in series A funding, led by Open Ocean Capital and Investinor. The company says it will use the funding to develop more partnerships to build out its network of proximity companies so that it can use the aggregate data to “index the physical world.”

Fast Company

The makers of Tidal are now creating a proximity network

Norway's Unacast is looking to make proximity data more useful by creating what is, in effect, the offline cookie. Unacast's management team includes CEO Thomas Walle and COO Kjartan Slette, who were part of the team who created WiMP, later known as Tidal, and sold to Jay Z.


Unacast and becoming a backend for beacons

Simply stated – Unacast wants to be the backend for the beacons – or more accurately proximity technologies in general.