The Road Less Traveled
Forbes Indonesia|May 2021
Most tech unicorns are the product of Silicon Valley’s well-oiled VC machine. Not Cloudinary. The maker of marketing software was profitable from day one and has bootstrapped its way close to a billion-dollar valuation.
Martin Giles

Itai Lahan is adamant that ambitious entrepreneurs should certainly fill their coffers with venture capitalists’ money if they get the chance. “The only consistent way to get to be a billion-dollar company is to go the VC route,” the Cloudinary CEO declares. “That, hands down, will always win.”

In a classic case of “do as I say, not as I do,” though, Lahan has repeatedly turned down venture funding since launching Cloudinary in 2012. Instead, he and his fellow Israeli cofounders, Nadav Soferman and Tal Lev-Ami, have bootstrapped their Santa Clara, California–based startup to near unicorn status. The company makes software that helps the CIOs of almost 7,500 customers, including household names like Nike, Peloton and Neiman Marcus, manage their online marketing content—think videos, logos and product photographs. Revenue grew by some 40% last year, to around $70 million, and the company is worth at least $900 million. Cloudinary has appeared on the Forbes Cloud 100 list each of the last three years.

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