Arjun Dev Arora is the founder and CEO of ReTargeter, a company that serves ads to web audiences after they leave their clients’ websites. Prior to founding ReTargeter, Arjun was the head of business development of Yahoo Real Estate. Prior to working for Yahoo, he worked as an investment banker for Jefferies Broadview. Arjun is a graduate of UC Berkeley, where he studied electrical engineering and computer science.
Sramana: Arjun, tell us about yourself. Where are you from? What background do you come from?
Arjun Dev Arora: I was born in the U.S. and raised in Southern California, down in Orange County. My parents were Indian immigrants who spent time in Germany before coming to the United States. I went to school at UC Berkeley, where I studied electrical engineering and computer science with a certificate in entrepreneurship. I have been in the Bay Area ever since.
Sramana: When did you graduate from college, and what was happening in the larger technology universe?
Arjun Dev Arora: I got out of college in 2005, so while it was not a big boom, it was not yet the big bust, either. I went into finance as an investment banker for technology mergers and acquisitions. That was my first gig out of school. I did that for two years and learned a lot about finance. I worked 80 to 90 hours a week and it was an interesting role. I always knew I wanted to do something entrepreneurial and that it would not be a long-term career.
Sramana: What was your next step?
Arjun Dev Arora: After that finance job, I went to work for Yahoo in a business development role in Yahoo Real Estate. At that point it had 5 million unique U.S. users to look for homes or rent an apartment. I ended up running the development for that business unit. I left Yahoo to start ReTargeter.
Sramana: What was the concept behind ReTargeter?
Arjun Dev Arora: While I was at Yahoo I got a lot of exposure to display advertising and the Internet in general. I saw how it was monetized and how ads were tracked. It was fascinating, and I had the opportunity to learn from some really good people at Yahoo. During that time I was exposed to a concept called re-targeting. It was a concept that had been around for more than a decade, but was limited in scope to Fortune 500 companies that were spending $50,000 to $100,000 a month. It was nearly impossible for anyone other than a very large company to use, and even then was limited only to Yahoo or partner sites.
Sramana: Are you saying that Yahoo display advertising was available only to very large companies, or are you specifically referring to re-targeting?
Arjun Dev Arora: The idea of re-targeting, the ability to show ads to people who have been to a particular site, was not available to smaller companies. Even when it was available for larger companies, it was not as effective as it could be. I wanted to make that concept available to a larger audience of businesses as well as make it much more effective than it had ever been.