As Taboola just turned 6, I thought I’ll blog about it, and take the opportunity to thank the community, partners and users for a great journey thus far.
It All Started With A Few Owls
It was July of 2007 when we formed a company, and later received our first VC money. Tomer Afek who worked at Evergreen Ventures at the time, introduced me to Erez Shachar, who together decided to invest. Tomer later introduced me to Lior Golan who became our CTO.
I started Taboola because right after graduating from nearly 7 years of army service, all I wanted to do was to watch TV and focus on doing nothing. Problem was that while there were about 200 channels, instead of feeling that there was a lot for me to watch, I felt like there was nothing on TV. I then changed my mind, realizing that content was no longer king, not without a proper kingdom – an audience.
With a big startup mentality, working in a tiny room with no windows at our angle investors’ offices to be able to avoid rent, to giving our mathematical algorithms names as if they were each an Owl, names such as Contextual-Cathy, Behavioral-Bob, or Social-Shelly, and all the way to leaving everything behind and moving to NY on May 23rd of 2009 after a board member called me up and said, “it’s time, you’re moving”. It was all of that and more that had us hard at work, connecting people with content they like and never knew existed.
I’ll never forget Erez’s face when Pilberg and Yaniv presented for the first time why “Behavioral Bob” was better than traditional Collaborative Filtering techniques; seriously there was a picture of an Owl on a slide titled “Bob” and we knew how to explain why it made sense. Nevertheless, whatever was said in that room made Erez put $1.5M into it, and we were as excited as a bunch of geeks could ever be.
Community Supported Our Vision
We got some amazing support from the community over the years, both from Israeli papers, as well as in the US with writers like Ryan Lawler who covered us at Contentinople, Gigaom, and now at Techcrunch, or Daisy Whitney, Liz Gannes, Peter Kafka, Andy Plesser, Will Richmond, Om Malik, Mark Robertson, Brian Morrissey, David Kaplan, and many others.
We got peoples’ support not only because they enjoyed our recommendations on some of the most innovative sites in the world, and not because we were provocative on panels, and also not because the CEO was a known business guy. People believed in what we believed in as a company, relating to “why” we’re doing what we’re doing, and not “how” we do it.
You see, in many ways, our vision was to design a scalable Search Engine but in reverse, having information finding you instead of you knowing how to find it. Something every person in the world could enjoy and use because we are all consumers of knowledge, we read, we watch, and glance at content we like – if we can discover it.
Taboola changed a lot in the past 6 years since we started it, but our vision never changed – #ContentYouMayLike.
Thanks everybody, and may we discover content we love.