Qualtrics to be featured in Forbes magazine, turns down $500 million investment

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Forbes magazine will publish a story about Qualtrics, a Provo-based online data collection and analysis software company, turning down a $500 million investment offer to accept a joint investment offer of $70 million from Accel Partners and Sequoia Capital.

“Forbes came to us making a pitch about Qualtrics being ‘the biggest software company you haven’t heard of yet,'” Ryan Smith, the CEO of Qualtrics said.  “We’ve always kept a low profile, so it was exciting to get noticed in that light.”

Since its creation in 2002, Qualtrics has doubled profits every year. They are on track to generate profits upwards of $50 million this year.

The Forbes article was written by Victoria Barrett, a reporter who writes about individuals pioneering the technology industry. The article will appear in the June 4th, 2012 edition of the magazine.

Smith said he was impressed with Barrett, who has interviewed Bill Gates and other notable individuals.

“She did a great job telling the story of where we started and showing the key moments that led us here today,” Smith said.

Most start-ups tend to sell their companies early for large amounts. Smith’s decision to stay in the game with Accel and Sequoia is an unusual one.

Barrett reports that a year ago Smith began thinking about overseas development and bringing in outside expertise. “The second act is never as good as the first,” Smith said in the Forbes article. “I want to go big now.”

Smith rejected offers from seven companies, many of them offering more than $100 million investments. He decided to bring on Accel and Sequoia, allowing him plenty of independence while helping beef up the company for the 0nline market-research competition in the future.

Kellie Bergeson, human resources director for Qualtrics, said the company’s fast growth is impressive.

“Being featured in Forbes magazine really shows how fast Qualtrics is growing,” Bergeson said. “People are taking notice.”

Bergeson explained this investment deal will expand Qualtric’s product offerings and accelerate their global growth. “We’re going to be hiring 250 new employees this year alone,” Bergeson said.

Smith’s father, Scott Smith, a marketing professor at Brigham Young University, developed an idea about speeding up market research using the Internet in the late 90s. While recovering from treatments for throat cancer, Scott Smith hired BYU students to build online survey software.

Ryan Smith was a BYU undergraduate at the time and quit school two credits shy of graduation to sell the software. In the Forbes article, Ryan Smith said his dad never thinks about selling anything.

Qualtrics has established itself as a leading player in online data collection and analysis. “Today most research and data collection is outsourced at great expense, or done internally with tools that are either too basic or much too complex,” Ryan Smith said in a press release.

Currently, the company touts a client list from more than 50 percent of the Fortune 100 list to every major university in the country to Barnes and Nobles, CVS Caremark, GEICO and more.

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