Put that thought of why I used this ‘mother holding a baby’ image for this blog post aside for one second, we’ll get to that at the end.
Throughout the Taboola journey, many folks have been asking me “why the name Taboola?” and I thought I’ll blog about it.
I came up with the name Taboola by thinking about “Tabula Rasa”, which means blank slate in Latin. Only what happened was that (1) “Tabula.com” was taken and (2) I really liked the “oo” in the name so I quickly bought “Taboola.com”. Why Tabula Rasa? So in my mind, even back then, I thought that as opposed to contextual engines that are looking for similarities between items, or retargeting/behavioral engines that tracked things users have already done — Taboola is about predicting content that people might love and never knew existed.
People are different; we’re unpredictable almost by our nature. We evolve, we’re moody, we see things we want to get and over time we don’t understand why we ever wanted those things. We have various intents that change throughout the day and the context in which we are, in many times, affects what we do and say.
I was passionate about solving the discovery, “dead-end” problem; when you open the TV and you’re not sure what to watch, or when you read an article and you’re not sure what content to consume next. People may react to reading/viewing content in a certain way while being in a certain context, but they might react to the same thing totally different, if they are in a different mood/context. What a fascinating problem. Trying to predict the ever changing.
This reminded me the concept of Tabula-Rasa, a blank slate. From WikiPedia, Tabula rasa is the epistemological theory that individuals are born without built-in mental content and that their knowledge comes from experience and perception (hence the image of this post). In mathematics, a field I’m a little closer to than psychology, it means that you’re trying to solve an equation that has many variables but you don’t have insights in advance as to how to solve it. Thus, you have to try various heuristics and values to understand and predict the human imprint.
Few years onward now at Taboola, when we’re serving over a billion recommendations a day, we’re applying this concept in scale. We were able to crack a unique mathematical way of studying the way people behave while consuming content, and determine advanced correlations between content to people in real-time.
Just like we envisioned on our first day starting this company, “Because We Recommend”.
Photo Credit: Nebudu group that presented the concept of “Tabula-Rasa”