Sramana: There are a lot of entrepreneurs who have a military background. I think there are some unique skill sets or opportunities that you can gain from military service.
Adam Singolda: I also had a unique opportunity to work with large data sets and applied mathematics. I joined as an engineer and I was an officer at the end, so I was leading the teams. The projects that we worked on required those skill sets. I can’t talk about most of my projects, but one public project that we worked on was to encrypt the General’s mobile phone to ensure it was encrypted.
Sramana: It sounds like you worked on a lot of security projects.
Adam Singolda: Yes, I think that is a fair way to put it.
Sramana: Let’s come to 2007 and the founding of Taboola. What was going on in your head? What did you want Taboola to do?
Adam Singolda: I was passionate about information and education. My dream was to be a teacher. After spending almost 7 years in an intense environment in the Army, all I wanted to do was stay home and watch TV. In the end, I found out that there was nothing to watch on TV.
I also thought that it did not make sense to make people type in information into a search box or page through different channels until they found the content they were looking for. I thought that information should be looking for us. I thought that humanity as a whole would go through a big change because for the past 15 years, search has dominated information. It has hundreds of billions of dollars of market cap. The reason it has worked is that it made information accessible. If we can type it, we can find it. That made the world a more educated world.
I believe that human beings are going towards a time when we have a lot more to do and a lot less time to do it. We have social channels, video channels, online lives, and offline lives. Every different vertical is getting more busy. We need a search engine in reverse. Instead of requiring people to tell the search engine what to look for, information should look for us.
I started with video. Because of the entire discovery category, I felt that video would be the hardest to solve technologically. There is no text to let you know what the video is about. I thought it was a high-risk, high-reward scenario, which is what I was looking for. My dream was to build the entire discovery category to reside side-by-side with search.
Sramana: How did you get the company off the ground? How did you finance the company and build your team?
Adam Singolda: I met a few angel investors to ask them what I thought about the idea. I had no experience, deck or money. I had the contextual background and I was obsessed. I met a few people and one person said yes.