Social media has changed the way people communicate and share information with one another, and the number of people using social media platforms continues to grow. In the United States in 2017, for example, 81 percent of Americans had at least one social media account, according to the online statistics, market research, and business intelligence site Statista. That’s an increase of 25 percent from 2012.
As platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram continue to dominate the industry and attract more users worldwide, it’s apparent that social media isn’t going anywhere anytime soon — and one Redmond company has made it its mission to bolster and bridge that growth by connecting communities through visually engaging and highly interactive social displays.
When Redmond-based Tagboard launched its social search and display platform in 2012, founder and CEO Josh Decker was excited to offer a technology service that had the potential to connect communities in a meaningful and powerful way. “With everything negative that we have going on in the world today, anything that we can do to help strengthen communities — that’s amazing,” Decker said.
Because Tagboard is a user-focused platform, however, Decker quickly realized the biggest obstacle facing the company was how to monetize it.
Rather than targeting the user — as he originally had intended — Decker decided instead to target marketers and community leaders who not only were interested in reaching the same audiences as Decker, but who also had budgets at their disposal to pay for the service.
Fast forward to 2018, and Tagboard has grown to become one of the leading social search and display platforms in the world. “We’re obviously really happy with where we ended up,” Decker said. “The great thing is the way we build the software — we just sell it to the people who care about those users.”
And Tagboard reaches a lot of users. According to Decker, Tagboard currently delivers 1.8 billion impressions of its product each month, globally. “It absolutely blows me away every time I say it out loud,” Decker said.
With big clients like Starbucks, Alaska Airlines, and the Seattle Seahawks, Tagboard has built a massively popular product, as well as a highly respected brand. But Decker said he believes the main driver of Tagboard’s success is that — from the very beginning — the company developed and designed its software with the end user in mind.
“I think one of the reasons we’re successful is because of the smile that we put on the faces of the audiences around the world,” Decker said. “That’s a really valuable experience to the person with the budget.”
As Tagboard continues to grow, Decker is proud of the company he and his team have built, and the fact that 95 percent of the company’s revenue comes from unsolicited, inbound, word-of-mouth referrals and organic interest. “As a company, we’ve made it six years down the road without any venture capital money whatsoever, which is very rare,” Decker said.
Looking ahead to the future, Decker said he’s excited to continue the company’s global growth, but the one thing he is most proud of is the team that he has assembled. “I know that no matter what happens to Tagboard,” Decker said, “that I have lifelong friendships and relationships as a result of what we’ve done together, and I am part of one of the most passionate, most bought-in, hardest-working teams that I have ever been a part of in my life. That’s more important to me than any dollar amount we could ever make.”
He’s a businessman and visionary through and through, so Tagboard isn’t Decker’s first rodeo. Before founding Tagboard, the Whitworth University School of Business grad worked in sales and marketing before launching his first company, Decker Creative, Inc. Decker said he’s learned many valuable lessons over the span of his career. Here are three that stand out:
Know your weaknesses. Hire capable people to take over those areas for you. Secure talented people who are smarter than you, and then get out of their way.
Hire slow, fire fast. When you know a fit isn’t right, move on as quickly as possible. Don’t try to force it to work out.
Leadership can be lonely and is a lot harder than anyone can imagine. Make sure you take care of yourself — mentally, physically, and spiritually — so that you can be the best leader possible.
About the CEO
The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz (for the fifth time)
Boards your involved in
None at this time; focusing 100 percent on Tagboard
Favorite Eastside restaurant
Favorite vacation destination
Super-power you wish you had
To heal others