Google's Former Head of Automotive Retail Joins Foundation Direct as CEO
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Former Google Exec Joins Foundation Direct as CEO

Foundation Direct, a new technology and consulting company offering automotive marketers an option to “Go Direct” with their digital advertising, announces Peter Leto as their chief executive officer. Leto joins Foundation Direct after 11 years at Google, where he served as head of industry for both the Automotive Retail Sales and General Motors business units.

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“We wanted a CEO that would model honesty, transparency and integrity from day one. Anyone who has met Peter knows he fits that bill,” Andrew Diffenderfer, co-founder of Foundation Direct, said. “He has an undeniable track record of anticipating where the industry is headed, giving him the ability to prioritize his customers’ best interests and future-proof the business.”    

In 2011, Leto began building Google’s Automotive Retail division. Known for dealer advocacy inside Google’s walls, Leto quickly became an industry staple as the beloved face of Google by both dealers and partners alike. During his tenure, Google partnered closely with OEMs to modernize dealer programs and improve cross-tier digital advertising efforts. Leto also led Google to begin consulting regional ad associations and automotive groups, arming both with valuable insight into regional-specific demand trends to capture missed opportunities to convert more customers to sales.

“It’s an honor to be reunited with former teammates to bring this exciting new solution to the industry,” Leto said. “When I first joined the automotive retail space, digital marketing was confusing and time-consuming, especially for auto dealers. Implementing, optimizing and reporting on a digital campaign was a huge undertaking that required a lot of manual work. As a result, dealers began outsourcing their digital advertising to agencies. Yet, as the industry evolved and technology advanced, some agencies just couldn’t keep up, and their strategies were not aligned to the dealerships’ best interests.


“Fast forward to today, and we have seen a dramatic shift in what is possible — both for the individual dealer and for OEMs, regional associations and auto groups. The industry is no longer questioning what digital advertising is or why it’s important, but rather how to do it better. I’m excited to help provide an automated, tech-driven solution that will empower all automotive marketers to execute a digital strategy with ease and transparency,” Leto said.

“Peter is honest and fair. He tells you like it is in a respectful way and approaches clients’ business with advice and recommendations as if it were his own company,”  Tim Mueller, co-founder, said. “At his core, he stands for the principles of Foundation, which is exactly why he’s a perfect fit to lead our company.”

Leto is from the Motor City, where he still lives with his wife and two daughters. A graduate of the University of Michigan, he started his career in TV ad sales with Turner Broadcasting (TBS/TNT) before joining Google in 2008. From 2008 to 2011, he worked in Google’s B2B Vertical, supporting large manufacturers like 3M, Newell Rubbermaid and Dow Chemical, where he first learned about co-op marketing models.


Leto will join fellow teammate and COO Ashley Lepczyk in strengthening Foundation Direct’s footprint in metro Detroit.

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