SALT LAKE CITY — Online survey company Qualtrics became Utah's most-valued private tech business Wednesday when it announced an updated assessment that values the company at $2.5 billion — more than doubling its last valuation of $1.15 billion in late 2014.
The Provo-based company also announced an infusion of $180 million in new venture capital.
Qualtrics new valuation leapfrogs the company over Domo, an American Fork-based software company valued at $2 billion in a March 2016 assessment. Domo was started by veteran Utah tech entrepreneur Josh James, who sold his previous venture, Omniture, to Adobe for $1.8 billion in 2009.
For Qualtrics founder and CEO Ryan Smith, becoming the most-valued tech company is less important than seeing a rising tide of success among his friends and colleagues on the Silicon Slopes.
"If we went public today, we'd be the biggest IPO in Utah history," Smith said. "But I love it when Utah succeeds as a state … and I'd love it if every one of our Utah tech companies continue to grow and go where no one has gone before."
Qualtrics' phenomenal value jump is a reflection of continued success with software systems that automate deep quantitative data analysis. Its products are used by more than 8,500 customers ranging from academic institutions to Fortune 500 companies.
Ryan Sweeney is a Qualtrics board member and partner at Accel, one of the venture capital firms that participated in the new funding. He said the company has consistently met and exceeded aggressive performance goals and distinguished itself by maintaining positive cash flow — a rarity in the realm of growing tech companies.
"From a revenue standpoint, Qualtrics is already the size of most public companies, and there’s room for a lot more growth considering the large and expanding market in which they play," Sweeney said in a statement. "The interest from investors everywhere underscores the notion that Qualtrics is likely the best private software company on the market today. We are very fortunate to be their partner.”
Qualtrics has a record of consistently hacking its way through unchartered territory. Started in 2002 as an idea that Smith and his father, BYU marketing professor Scott Smith, thought would be useful to academic researchers, the products are now relied upon by companies such as Jet Blue, General Electric and Microsoft to assess data on customer satisfaction, employee engagement, brand recognition and product success.
Smith says the backbone to his company's success has been about a commitment to building a team-centric culture.
"We've relocated 150 people from around the country here to Utah and are consistently looking to build and diversify," Smith said. "We've got a phenomenal team at Qualtrics, and we're always looking to add to that team."
While building its assets in Utah, the company has also expanded across the globe, with 1,300 employees in 10 offices, including locations in Dublin, London, Munich and Sydney.
But while Qualtrics' presence and customer reach is global, Smith says the company is Utah born and will remain Utah committed. A recent sponsorship deal inked with the Utah Jazz reflects the founder's priorities of doing much more than dominating one slice of the tech sector.
https://youtu.be/q9IczYfzJSkNext year, the NBA will be experimenting with new, sponsored patches on team jerseys. So far, six teams have made deals ranging from $4 million to $8 million per year for the sponsorship opportunities.
As many might expect, corporate logos are the norm for most of the deals — except for one. Qualtrics opted to front their philanthropic endeavor, 5 for the Fight, aimed at raising $50 million over the next five years for cancer research.
For Smith, putting the cancer cause over the company logo was simply the right thing to do.
"I'm a big fan of backing researchers. … They're the ones that solve the hard problems," he said. "And when I look back over things I've done, successes I've had, these are the kinds of things I'm going to remember."