Former Google Automotive Research Lead Joins Foundation Direct
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Former Google Auto Research Lead Joins Foundation Direct

Foundation Direct announces Michael Heidner as the company’s new VP of strategy and business development. Heidner joins Foundation Direct from Google, where he led Automotive Research and notably drove the analysis behind and creation of Google’s “5 Auto Shopping Micro-Moments.”  

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“Remaining ahead of industry trends by maintaining a deep understanding of auto shoppers’ changing behaviors — especially in light of the last year of change — is crucial to our success as a company, and our dealers’ success winning customers online,” co-founder Andrew Diffenderfer, said. “Mike brings extensive expertise and thought leadership on automotive trends and consumer behaviors. He has analyzed the consumer journey data of hundreds of thousands of auto shoppers across hundreds of digital and traditional touchpoints. His understanding of today’s auto shopper and their use of digital to buy a vehicle is unmatched. We’re excited to leverage these insights and trends to continue innovating and driving results for dealerships.”  

Michael Heidner

Peter Leto, Foundation Direct’s CEO, also noted, “Mike has a unique ability to find salient insights amongst vast amounts of data. He has a proven record of both researching consumer behaviors and using them to drive strategic business decisions. While you might not recognize his name, you’ve seen his work — represented on keynote stages across events like Digital Dealer, NADA, J.D. Power Auto Revolution and more. We are excited to add him to our team as we continue to evolve our technology and the media strategies we use to connect dealers to buyers.” 

Heidner helped lead Google’s annual Path To Purchase Research Study beginning in 2013, where he analyzed hundreds of thousands of auto purchaser survey responses, clickstream behaviors and qualitative interviews through the years. Before Google, he helped launch and produce content for FOX Sports’ regional websites and worked with the television sales teams on activation. 


“Insights and trends are my passion,” Heidner said, “and I’ve been lucky to witness and report on the changes of automotive shopper behaviors over the past several years — from the growth of mobile usage on dealer lots, to how people discover vehicles with search, to understanding video’s role in the research process. I am excited to join Foundation Direct on their journey to disrupt the market by offering best-in-class solutions aligned to dealer and vehicle purchaser expectations.”  

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