Sramana Mitra: What happened in 2012?
Stephan Goss: We started hiring pretty extensively on the tech side. I think, by the end of 2012, we got up to about 12 people. The questions were just statically built. They weren’t optimized. There wasn’t anything about switching them around. We started hiring a lot of developers around that concept. We started building a platform that would basically power it all dynamically.
We built the full ad exchange to optimize which of the buyers were bidding on the inventory. That was the year in which we heavily invested in tech. We ended up getting up to about a $12 million run rate. We started to get a lot bigger and had to finance the hire of some more experienced people. Just having better technology ended up paying off significantly.
Sramana Mitra: Tech is what improved the gross margin.
Stephan Goss: Technology and better people, or more people who were able to do things better.
Sramana Mitra: What is the next major strategic move?
Stephan Goss: From that point on, we’ve always been investing on the tech side. We just got incrementally better every year. That’s still where we’re at today. We’re up to about close to 80 people. Half of them are still focused on the tech side and getting better in that. We started hiring sales. It’s just a typical scaling up story. We just started hiring more people in different divisions.
Sramana Mitra: Strategically, you were doing the same thing that you did in 2012? There has been no change.
Stephan Goss: We still do the same thing today as we did in 2012. We’re just much better at it.
Sramana Mitra: What kind of numbers are you doing right now? What was your 2015 number?
Stephan Goss: I think we did $42 million last year.
Sramana Mitra: How much did you have to pay to get $42 million.
Stephan Goss: I don’t remember off the top of my head.
Sramana Mitra: Can you provide that number?
Stephan Goss: Probably not. I don’t think we give out gross margin information.
Sramana Mitra: I’m trying to understand your business. To get $5 million, you had to spend $4.5 million. Then you’re saying that you were able to improve the gross margins. I’m trying to understand what kind of improvement was possible through the years. What else is interesting in your story?
Stephan Goss: I’m 28 now. I got started when I was 23. We’re just a knowledge accumulator. That was the hard part. One of the hardest things early on was just not knowing how things are supposed to be done because I’ve never had a real job before. It was a matter of learning lots of things the hard way and not screwing up so big that everything would fall apart in the meantime. That has really been the challenging part.
Sramana Mitra: Great. Thank you for your time.