Taboola had to sustain four years of zero-revenue, until it hit a million dollar revenue year in 2012. In 2013, their revenue run-rate is $100 million.
It’s an amazing story! Read on…
Sramana: Adam, let’s start with a bit of your personal background. What kind of family did you grow up in?
Adam Singolda: I was born in Israel, just south of Tel Aviv. I am 32 now. My family is still in Israel and they have split origins between Morocco and Europe. I joined the Israeli Army but I did it a bit different than most. In Israel, everyone has to go through the Army for 2 or 3 years. I was there for close to 7 years and I worked for a unit that was in charge of protecting Israel’s information using encryption. It was a great opportunity for me because I learned the importance of people as opposed to the problem you are trying to solve.
I also had the opportunity to work on some large scale data projects throughout that time. It was a unique opportunity for me to do what I do today. It gave me my background and experience in applied mathematics. After the Army I started Taboola, which is what I am still doing today. I am hoping I can walk this journey for a long, long time.
Sramana: When did you start Taboola?
Adam Singolda: I started it in July of 2007.
Sramana: Are there specific experiences from your time in the Army that directly connects some dots in your founding of Taboola?
Adam Singolda: One of the big lessons I learned focused on people. We were assigned to certain teams and we had a task to work on. In the Army, there are no notions of salary, title, promotion, and money. All you have is a mission. One thing that was a great experience was that it built resilience. That is incredibly important for an entrepreneur because you will face a lot of rejection as an entrepreneur. I learned resilience by getting teams assigned to me along with a mission. We had to make it work, no matter what.
We did not have a toolbox that contained perks. You had to make it work with what you had. That is a big skillset that is very unique. I just don’t see that same environment outside of the Army. In the commercial world, if you are not happy, you can leave. If someone is not happy with you, they can make you leave. I did not have those options at my disposal for the first 7 years of my career.
I think culture and people are the foundation of every good startup. The company must have a culture that can attract the right people. You need to prioritize experience versus degrees. Some things are more intuitive than others, but it is really important to attract great people and you need a great culture to do that.