Startup run by UC Berkeley alumni launches IPO

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TubeMogul, a digital video advertising platform founded by UC Berkeley alumni, recently became a publicly traded company, raising about $44 million at its initial public offering.

The company was founded by Haas School of Business alumni John Hughes and Brett Wilson in 2006, after the two classmates began working on it as a project in their spare time. At its July 18 offering, shares sold at $7 per share.

TubeMogul won the UC Berkeley Startup Competition in 2007, an event for campus-affiliated startups, which provided vital funding for the company. Since then, it has grown to a staff of 280 employees and now operates offices in Asia, Europe and Australia.

In 2010, TubeMogul became solely focused on video advertising. It helps its clients budget their spending on video advertisement and check on the progress of their advertising campaigns.

“It’s thrilling to see your baby grow up and be a publicly traded company,” Hughes, co-founder and president of products at TubeMogul, said. “We are keeping our head down, making sure the next stage of growth is right around the corner, but (we are) honored and thrilled.”

Michael Berolzheimer, managing partner at venture capital firm Bee Partners, was one of Hughes and Wilson’s classmates at Haas. He made the decision to be TubeMogul’s first investor, he said, because the two co-founders made such a good team.

“It’s been a profoundly rewarding experience to witness the growth of a company from a team of two to a team of 300 all in the matter of a few years,” Berolzheimer said. “They worked incredibly hard to get there, and I remain humbled by the small participation I had.”

Though TubeMogul is now an international company, its headquarters remain in Emeryville so it can recruit from UC Berkeley’s talent pool, said Mark Rotblat, vice president of media.

“Our connection to the school is incredibly important to hiring in a very competitive Bay Area market,” Rotblat, who met Hughes and Wilson at Haas, said.

John Danner, a senior fellow at the Lester Center of Entrepreneurship at Haas, taught Hughes, Wilson and Rotblat while they attended the business school. TubeMogul’s founders, he said, had an effective mix of “missionary” and “mercenary” traits — meaning they could convince their customers their product was necessary and useful while simultaneously keeping a close eye on their finances.

Danner added that TubeMogul now helps out younger startups at UC Berkeley, and its founders have provided guidance in accessing critical resources for other teams.

“It’s been gratifying not just to see TubeMogul’s success, but also to see their commitment to helping their successors at Cal learn from their own experience,” he said.

Hughes said Haas School of Business not only introduced him to the other members of TubeMogul, but also allowed him to build a platform for finding investors and entrepreneurs interested in their business.

“There really wouldn’t be a TubeMogul without Berkeley,” he said. “It was critical to our success.”

Contact G. Haley Massara at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @BylineGraph.