IPO-bound TubeMogul Traces Origins to Berkeley-Haas

The story of TubeMogul—the latest tech company to file for an initial public offering—starts at Berkeley-Haas.

The trio of Haas alumni who founded the online video ad company—Brett Wilson, John Hughes, and Mark Rotblat, all MBA 07—met in an MBA class on entrepreneurship run by the school’s Lester Center for Entrepreneurship. They went on to spend a year working in the Haas School’s startup incubator, raised money from classmates, and competed in the Lester Center’s Business Plan Competition twice, first making it to the semifinals and then tying for first place.

“There would be no TubeMogul without Haas, and in particular, the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship,” Wilson, the CEO, told CalBusiness, the Haas School’s magazine, in 2011.

“The Lester Center was just an awesome launch pad to help us create TubeMogul,” Wilson added in another Haas article about the company. “Absolutely couldn’t have done it without Haas.”

“There is so much entrepreneurial energy at Berkeley-Haas, it’s contagious,” adds Lester Center director André Marquis, a Berkeley MBA alum and founder of a number of tech startups himself. “The TubeMogul team was impressive from the start in their focus and ability to pivot their business based on customer feedback. That is what we teach our students and that is why TubeMogul won our UC Berkeley Startup Competition in 2007. It’s gratifying to see their hard work over the years lead to such a big success.”

TubeMogul, a media-buying platform for online video advertising, has enjoyed explosive growth since its founding at Haas. Fast-forward to fall 2013: The company’s rapid revenue growth placed it at #239 on the Inc. 500 America’s Fastest Growing Private Companies list. The company made the San Francisco Business Times’ “Fast 100” list of the Bay Area’s fastest private companies in 2011 and 2012 (#7 each year) and its revenue has grown 517.7 percent from 2010 to 2012. In 2013, CEO Wilson says, TubeMogul was on track to more than double business as well.

Staying true to its Berkeley-Haas roots, TubeMogul’s cast of employees includes more than 50 Berkeley alumni worldwide out of a total staff of more than 225 employees as of October 2013. Other Haas alumni include Keith Eadie, MBA 08, chief marketing officer since February 2014 and previously VP and director of marketing, and Daniel Schotland, BS 87, VP of operations since 2013. The company, headquartered in Emeryville, also has offices in London, Singapore, Sydney, Toronto, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Detroit.

After launching a new ad platform in 2011, TubeMogul went on to generate more than 800 million views spanning more than 200 campaigns for such firms as Unilever, Microsoft, and Sony Pictures. In October 2011, the company closed $10 million in Series B funding.

What’s the secret to such growth? Knowing when to pivot is one reason for the company’s success, Wilson says. The company switched from focusing on video distribution and analytics to building software to power video ad-buying based on feedback from its first clients, ad agencies.

Being discerning with new hires also helps TubeMogul stay ahead. “We tend to shun perfect pedigrees in favor of people who embody several key traits: do what you say, go fast (making mistakes is OK), and do a lot with a little,” says Wilson. “And it works. Ad agencies voted that we have the best customer service in the industry, and our engineering team is constantly building tools to simplify brand advertising and make it more effective.”

Watch a video of CEO Brett Wilson, MBA 07, talking on the importance of Haas in TubeMogul’s success.


TubeMogul co-founders Mark Rotblat, Brett Wilson (CEO), and John Hughes (president of products), all MBA 07.