Three years of web analytics consulting led Ali and his co-founder to identify a core customer need around which he is now building a high-growth, venture-funded company.
Sramana Mitra: Ali, let’s start with your own personal journey. Where were you born and raised? What kind of story leads up to Tealium?
Ali Behnam: I was born in Iran. Our family migrated outside Iran after the revolution. We actually ended up finding ourselves in France, which is where I got my high school degree. Later on, I came to San Diego for my college education at UC San Diego. I just fell in love with San Diego. Following my graduation, I decided that San Diego is where I want to spend the rest of my life.
Sramana Mitra: Did you go to UC San Diego then?
Ali Behnam: I did.
Sramana Mitra: What did you study in UC San Diego?
Ali Behnam: Absolutely nothing to do with what I do today. I studied Structural Engineering. One of the things that I did right after my graduation was get a job in the construction field – more specifically construction management. The one thing that got to me very early was the lack of creativity in that space where everybody was, for the most part, following codes. I didn’t necessarily want to do that. I wanted to do something a little bit more creative.
I decided to venture out of construction and went into the marketing field. I started doing some marketing work at various software companies here in San Diego. That eventually led me to WebSideStory, which was a local web analytics company here that went public. I just had a great time there. I just felt that for someone like me who had that technical educational and an ache for creativity, the web analytics space was the perfect marriage of creativity and technical background expertise. That’s what led me to where I am today.
Sramana Mitra: Can you put this in a timeline?
Ali Behnam: I started Tealium in 2008 along with my partner, Mike Anderson. Before that, I joined WebSideStory in 2000 and spent about eight years there. Before that, I was doing several marketing roles within various local companies in San Diego.
Sramana Mitra: You finished WebSideStory in 2007?
Ali Behnam: 2008.
Sramana Mitra: What happens next?
Ali Behnam: WebSideStory got acquired by one of our main competitor, which was Omniture – which is now part of Adobe. One thing we discovered right after the acquisition was that in order for us to make a career at Omniture back then, we actually have to move to Utah. I didn’t want to move and neither did my partner. We ventured out and started Tealium originally as a web analytics consultancy. We were providing customers with various consulting services to help them better implement their web analytics solution no matter what the solution was.