The Rise Of Silicon Slopes
I am particularly proud to be building my second cloud-based software company, Domo, in Utah. When I started Omniture in the 1990s with my friend John Pestana, technology was an insignificant part of our state’s economy. A few companies such as Wordperfect and Novell had found success here but it wasn’t until the Internet emerged as a business platform that Utah’s tech economy started to grow.
Life for entrepreneurs was different back then. Capital was hard to come by and our talent pool was small. The main interstate connecting Salt Lake City to Provo was lined with empty fields and speckled with a few industrial companies that were beginning to lose their glow to overseas competitors.
The Internet, however, was a wide-open frontier for anyone who could imagine the possibilities. I was lucky to be in college at the time, with ambition and imagination to spare. We started a company that built webpages for anyone who would pay us. We eventually evolved that business into an analytics company, Omniture, that allowed those companies to understand how their websites were performing.
Omniture was part of Utah’s second wave of tech that helped nurture an Internet-savvy workforce. Like other companies emerging at the time, such as Ancestry.com, Overstock and Altiris, we put Utah on the map as a great place to build a successful business. We cared deeply about our customers and learned how to deliver service and technology in the cloud at an early stage. Omniture grew to more than 5,000 customers and employed more than 1,000 people. After an IPO, we sold to Adobe for $1.8 billion, becoming the anchor of Adobe’s new cloud business unit, which they kept in Utah. We wouldn’t have sold it if they weren’t committed to keeping the business here. Those were incredible events for anyone who helped build Omniture, but they were also critical milestones for Silicon Slopes by bringing more attention, more capital and more inspiration to the next set of entrepreneurs.
Now, in the early stages of Utah’s third wave, technology is a core part of our economy’s fabric. Today, if you drive up or down the interstate, the view has changed dramatically. Technology companies line the corridor all the way from Ogden to Provo. Pluralsight, Insidesales.com, Qualtrics, Vivint, Entrata, and HealthCatalyst are just a few of the businesses that have been born here. These companies are creating great opportunities for Utahns to build careers while also improving the way the world lives, works and plays. They are building technology that continues to attract the attention of investors, budding entrepreneurs and world leaders to the Beehive State.
I am blown away by organizations such as Silicon Slopes, Beehive Startups, Women Tech Council, Utah Tech Council plus our universities and public sector — that are working together to strengthen this community. Just this past January, the first Silicon Slopes Tech Summit was held on the opening two days of the Sundance Film Festival, attracting more than 5,000 registrants from inside and outside the state. Our goal is that the Silicon Slopes Tech Summit becomes our very own SXSW, showing the nation that Utah is where you find the fusion of technology, film, entertainment and the great outdoors.
What else is in store for Silicon Slopes? Investors have already caught on that Utah builds strong businesses. With more capital flowing into the state, and the continued focus on STEM in our schools and universities to drive a stronger, more tech savvy workforce, there’s no doubt that the future is bright. Anyone with enough ambition and inspiration to imagine the possibilities will lead Silicon Slopes into the future waves of tech.
Written by Josh James | CEO | Domo