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Crossing the Desert, Hitting the Jackpot: Taboola CEO Adam Singolda (Part 4)

Posted on Thursday, Mar 13th 2014

Sramana: What story did you tell the VC? What was the vision?

Adam Singolda: We told them a similar story to what I expressed earlier but focused on video. It was the same premise that information should look for people as opposed to the other way around. I did not speak about content and discovery in general, instead I talked about video discovery. In 2007, video was a hyped topic in general. Everybody thought that a company capable of increasing video views would be very valuable because video had a far higher CPM.

I did not know what the business model was going to be. I did not know how it was going to work on different platforms. There was a lot of stuff that came after. I raised money on video and we stuck to that original idea for our first four years.

Sramana: After you raised money how long did it take you to launch your first product? What was the first product doing?

Adam Singolda: The first product was doing video recommendations. If you watched one video, we would recommend other videos.

Sramana: Did you have your own portal or did you sell your technology to others?

Adam Singolda: We were very naive. We had no experience, we did not know anyone, and we lived in Tel Aviv, which was as far away as possible. We took embedded videos on other sites and we put them on a portal that we created just for ourselves to see how our technology would work. We would see the videos that our technology recommended. It was a geeky project and it was truly just for us.

A year and a half into the project, I had lunch with the founding team of 5min Media in Israel. We had lunch in a small shop and they told me about the video portal they were creating. We were offering a video recommendation service, so they agreed to sign a contract and launch us. The problem is that we were still sketching a video recommendation service. These were exciting, great times. We went back and worked on our first real product. Our first version did not even have automation. Out team crunched mathematical numbers in the background against 5min content and listed the recommendations in a database. During the next hour, our recommendations would appear. That was out very first product.

Sramana: How big was the video library at 5min?

Adam Singolda: There were a few thousand. Even today, some publishers only have a few thousand videos.

Sramana: What were the terms of your agreement with 5min?

Adam Singolda: I always wanted to build a media business. I wanted our product to generate revenue using advertisers in a way to leverage the value we provided. In my head, I was trying to base it on search. Some search results would be free and other search results would be sponsored. Our very first version of Taboola had one recommendation that was a product from Amazon. Today, we don’t recommend Amazon products, but we do recommend something outside of the site. We offered a 50/50 revenue split. We made $80 gross revenue. It was a very small deal.

This segment is part 4 in the series : Crossing the Desert, Hitting the Jackpot: Taboola CEO Adam Singolda
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