A Brief History of Tealium: 5-Year Reflection from Employee #5

I thought I’d take same time to reflect as I work from home while the movers relocate the Tealium office into a brand new building.  I’m back working in my garage, the place where I started at Tealium exactly five years ago (see feature image).

I began working for Mike Anderson, a serial entrepreneur and my previous manager at WebSideStory, who decided (alongside fellow founder, Ali Behnam) to productize his consulting work and build another SaaS company.  After a crash course in Amazon Web Services (AWS) and coding up some perl running on Apache, Tealium’s UTUI (Universal Tag User Interface) was born.  And, oh yeah, jQuery UI animations were thrown in to expand and collapse stuff.

The team and I took on our first project of building the Tealium ecosystem, cranking out vendor tags for a tag marketplace.  At the same time, Jay Calavas – heading up sales efforts – rounds up a few others to demo those fancy jQuery UI animations and the ease of data mapping.  And then, a serial investor/ entrepreneur/ seasoned CEO by the name of Jeff Lunsford joins the team.

If I could sum up the impetus for the creation of Tealium in conversation style, it would look something like this:

Marketers want the ability to map more “s.props” and “eVars” to get data into SiteCatalyst easier than ever before.  Digital Marketing Agencies hire bright young coders that can write JavaScript to get more data into SiteCatalyst than ever before.  These analytics implementation engineers love the ability to push JS code live to the web site all on their own.  Data is moving faster and easier.  The “IT Bottleneck” is solved. Users will say, I think I’ll add Google Analytics in just a few clicks, just because I can.

The decision to host static files on content delivery networks (CDNs) turned out to be subtle genius.  The competition’s server-side-generated dynamic JavaScript could not compete.  Even for Tealium, faster wasn’t fast enough and multi-CDN delivery was born.  Now, it seems just about everyone and anyone wants to have a hand at writing JavaScript code and use Tealium to click “Publish” to see it go live.

Tealium, light years ahead in a new space, watches others hope to acquire support of the marketer via a free product, a ‘one size fits all’ approach, and/or solutions cobbled together via acquisitions. Eventually, these users find out that you get what you pay for. Tealium is the marketer’s secret weapon, allowing them to finally get value out of all the other tools purchased.  Not only that, but the marketers can be much more intelligent about it and have gained a partner that is eager to help navigate the changing landscape (i.e. identify your visitors across their web, app, service, or device usage.)

Oh yeah, how could I get this far without mention of Tealium AudienceStream?  Headed by industry veteran and our current Vice President of Engineering Charles Glommen, a handful of super-bright developers meanwhile have built an integration platform that previously took individual Java consultants or highly-paid integration specialists many $250-hours to accomplish.  Yes, you can directly add data in Salesforce for your web leads.  Yes, you can tell your email platform to send email to the right people at the right time (days sooner).  This platform is built to scale (big thanks again to AWS) and every year we say to Cyber Monday, “Bring it on!”

To sum up how far we’ve come, Daymond John – the Shark Tank judge and branding master himself – was the headlining speaker at Digital Velocity 2016, Tealium’s annual customer education and networking event. And we’ve definitely forgotten my presentation at the 2013 edition of this same event.

All of this starting from my garage in San Diego… (although Mike did most of the hard work and worked from an actual room.) And I must say, the future looks bright from the windows of our new office.

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