It’s not surprising that the most successful businesses are the ones that are built on strong family ties. Ryan Smith co-founded the online survey platform Qualtrics with his father Scott and brother Jared in 2002.
and the strong relationship between the three helped launch Qualtrics into a billion-dollar company and made Ryan one of the top CEOs in the United States today. Here’s self-made billionaire entrepreneur Ryan Smith’s inspiring success story.
Ryan Smith was born in Eugene, in the state of Oregon, in the United States, in 1977. His father, Scott, worked as a university professor, while his mother, Nancy, is an entrepreneur and holds a Ph.D. in information systems.
Ryan spent most of his childhood in Oregon before moving to Utah to finish his education.
Ryan went to the Marriott School of Business at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, but had to drop out when his father got throat cancer. He later re-enrolled and obtained his degree in 2016.
Qualtrics’ co-founder and CEO:
After returning home to care for his sick father, Ryan didn’t only develop a stronger bond with Scott on a personal level but also on a professional level.
In an interview in 2016, Ryan said that his father was a “super early adopter” who had already started making tools for online surveys. Even on days when Scott had chemotherapy treatments, the two of them kept working on the product.
In 2002, the Qualtrics survey app was officially launched. Ryan had signed up 20 customers and started to hire more people to help build the product. Previously working at Google, Ryan’s brother Jared joined the team. The company’s early success was mainly attributed to Qualtrics founders’ focus on luring universities.
This gave marketing students a chance to learn about the platform, which they could then show to their future employers after getting a job. The formula worked, and Qualtrics now targets customers outside universities and educational institutions. Through a number of series fundings overseen by Sequoia Capital, Accel, and Insight Venture Partners, Qualtrics was able to raise $400 million in total between 2012 and 2017.
Before SAP, a major provider of enterprise planning software, acquired the business in 2018 for $8 billion, its valuation had risen to $2.5 billion, and it was prepared to go public.The acquisition was considered a strategic move for SAP, as Qualtrics’ core services of survey creation,public. istribution, and respondent analysis fit perfectly with SAP’s multitude of customer management tools.
The partnership between SAP and Qualtrics has helped Qualtrics stay at the top of the market for online surveys and research. Still, the latter has already indicated that it will spin out from SAP and finally forego its plan to go public. A Qualtrics IPO is set to increase the company’s current valuation of $12 billion to $14.4 billion based on an initial pricing range of $20 to $24 per share.
Qualtrics should have a great start on the stock market because demand for cloud products and services keeps growing. The company saw a 30% increase in revenues for the first three quarters of 2020 ($550 million compared to $413.4 million in the same period in 2019), a trend that has also been seen with other cloud companies, including Snowflake, Zoom, Twilio, and Datadog.
Qualtrics’ strong performance has also made Ryan Smith a billionaire with a net worth of $1.3 billion. He is also the new owner of the NBA team Utah Jazz, the state where he graduated and where his company is currently headquartered.
The deal was made in October 2020, and Ryan paid $1.66 billion for the majority share of the basketball team. Gail Miller (Larry H. Miller Group of Companies, or LHM Group) was the owner of the Jazz.
The Qualtrics CEO was also able to create a work environment based on employee engagement because he had strong relationships with his family, especially when it came to diversity, equity, and inclusion. He is sure that a company will be very successful if it has a diverse staff and treats people fairly in terms of pay and developing their skills.
He started the “5 for the Fight” campaign, which asked everyone to give $5 to help find a cure for cancer. With Qualtrics being the official sponsor of the Utah Jazz, a “5 For The Fight” patch has been attached to the team’s jerseys and will remain attached until the 2022-2023 season. Forbes named Ryan among the 2016 “40 Under 40,” while the career website Comparably listed him as one of the Best CEOs of 2020.
Ryan resides in Provo, Utah, with his wife Ashley and their five children. He is a practicing Mormon and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Qualtrics looks to make a big splash during its eventual IPO, but that shouldn’t take away from the fact that it started from humble beginnings as a family working together to overcome hardships.
This has also allowed Ryan Smith, who has been at the center of Qualtrics since the very beginning, to not just become a CEO with excellent customer experience management skills but also a person with a strong sense of compassion and empathy.