Two powerful Silicon Valley-based venture capital firms known for early investments in the likes of Facebook and Apple have given $70 million to Provo-based software company Qualtrics to help it expand operations and hire 250 more employees.
“This isn’t the end but just the beginning,” Qualtrics CEO Ryan Smith said of the first-round investment, which was announced during a media conference Tuesday at Qualtrics’ headquarters that was attended by Gov. Gary Herbert and Provo mayor John R. Curtis.
The company, which got its start in 2002, develops research software that helps businesses conduct online data collection, analysis and surveys.
Qualtrics secured the venture capital from Accel Partners and Sequoia Capital. Accel is one of the main investors in Facebook (with 201 million shares) and could make $1.3 billion in the social network’s upcoming initial public offering. Sequoia was one of the earliest investors in Apple and video game publisher Electronic Arts.
Qualtrics officials said the funding marks the first time the company has raised outside capital and claims it represents one of the largest first-round venture capital investments in Utah’s history.
For his part, Herbert said, “Our focus is to make sure Utah is the premiere global destination for business.”
With the addition of the new capital, Smith said the company plans to not only more than double its workforce within the next year but expand to another floor at its Provo headquarters, create products, and further its business in international markets.
“We’ve got clients in 75 countries, and we want to take that to the next level,” Smith said.
Qualtrics plans to hire more sales staff, engineers, marketing representatives, “anyone who wants to be a part of the journey,” he said. “We just want people with a high trajectory and a lot of energy.”
The company has more than 4,000 business customers, including Barnes & Noble, Microsoft, Royal Caribbean, Southwest Airlines, Nissan and Toyota. It’s client list also includes 600 universities, such as Stanford, Duke, Cambridge, and Columbia.
The company was started by Ryan Smith’s father, Scott Smith, a Brigham Young University marketing professor who, while he was recovering from cancer, had the idea of collecting data online in real time. Ryan Smith’s brother, Jared, a former director of product management for Google, also works for the company as a co-president.
Qualtrics’ products include the Qualtrics Research Suite, Qualtrics Site Intercept and Qualtrics 360, which assesses a company’s employees at every level. The company’s strength, it says, is providing online data analysis tools that are easy to use but sophisticated, or as one of its products touts: “Easy enough for an intern, sophisticated enough for a Ph.D.”
“Qualtrics is the biggest software company you haven’t heard of yet,” Sequoia Capital’s Bryan Schreier said in a statement Tuesday. “They’ve become the foundation of market research and customer analytics for thousands of very happy customers.”
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What • The Provo-based company develops software that helps companies conduct Web-based surveys and statistical analysis in real time.
Beginnings • It was founded in 2002 by Brigham Young University marketing professor Scott Smith and employs about 200.
Clientele • Qualtrics has more than 400 business clients, including Microsoft, Nissan, Forbes, General Motors and The Wall Street Journal, as well as 600 universities.