Get to know RETHINK Retail’s Top Retail Influencers through the “Meet the TRI” Q&A series! Dive in to learn about a member of the thought leader community and follow their work and insights across our content and their social channels.

Hi, I’m Daniel McCarthy, Assistant Professor of Marketing at Emory University/Co-Founder at Theta.

Connect with me on LinkedIn!

“Tell us about your background.”

I popularized customer-based corporate valuation (CBCV), a methodology that drives any traditional valuation model off of the underlying behaviors of the target company’s customers. My work has been featured in major media outlets such as the Harvard Business Review, MIT Sloan Management Review, Wall Street Journal, FT, Fortune, Barronís, Inc Magazine, The Economist, and CNBC. My research has been accepted and published in top-tier academic journals and has won numerous research awards. 

I co-founded and was Chief Statistician for Zodiac, a predictive customer analytics SaaS firm. Nike acquired Zodiac in March 2018 and I have since co-founded Theta Equity Partners (

“Brief description of your current role and your space in the industry.”

In addition to my roles and responsibilities at Emory, my company Theta helps to revolutionize how firms (e.g., private equity, venture capital, and operating companies directly) value companies through CBCV. 

“Do you have any interesting projects coming up?”

I am currently working on a few projects that could be relevant to the group:

  • I’m working on a project studying the time-varying impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on a large number of different industries, many of which are retail-related. Measuring its impact, especially over longer time horizons, is not trivial. We find that subscription-based categories are some of the only ones for which COVID’s effects have persisted. 
  • I also have another project using state-of-the-art deep learning methods to predict future customer purchase behavior. We are finding that these methods do significantly better than traditional best-in-class models for customer purchase prediction.

“Which resources do you use to keep up with industry news”

I subscribe to a few publications, including RETHINK Retail. I regularly read The Information and the Wall Street Journal, and have cultivated a community of individuals I regularly follow on social media, including Simeon Siegel, Tren Griffin, Bill Gurley, and Steve Dennis.

“What is the greatest challenge the industry is facing?”

One of the greatest challenges the industry is facing is how to understand how “normal” demand is right now. For many retailers that sold primarily online, there was a very sharp increase in demand during Covid which has subsequently unwound itself. My research suggests that for some purchase categories, demand right now may be below baseline, in part due to some of the increase in spending during Covid having been pulled forward demand. However, one may wonder whether part of the decrease in demand is due to pulled-forward demand unwinding itself or due to macroeconomic conditions weakening. These different interpretations could lead to sharply different inferences for where demand goes from here. 

“How do you continue to grow and develop as an influencer in the retail industry?”

I continue to grow and develop as an influencer in three ways. The first way is through my academic research in studying retail-relevant problems through my academic work so I can continue to push the boundaries of what we know and what we can know about the retail sector. The second is through the company that I’ve cofounded, Theta, which has allowed me to engage with many companies directly and understand their unit economics through the lens of customer purchase behavior. The third is to give back to the community through my social media accounts, sharing articles and providing perspective on things that I’ve read in addition to sharing findings from my academic research work.

“What is the best resource for people who want to dive in deeper?”

I share a lot of my thoughts and research on my Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. Theta also shares a lot of our findings via blog posts that can be accessed here

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