When Kim started WordStream in 2007, he never envisioned it becoming the company it is today. When asked to help with a search marketing project, he was more than happy to oblige.
Working out of a makeshift office in Panera Bread, that one customer turned into tens of customers, which turned into hundreds, and eventually thousands. By that time, Kim had since quit his day job to focus on WordStream full time.
From Marketer to Software Developer
Taking on this challenge all by himself at the time, Kim built himself software out of pure necessity to streamline some of the more repetitive tasks he was doing day in and day out. A lightbulb went off — there could be big business in selling that software to others!
In 2008, WordStream secured $4 million in Series A funding, which gave him the capital he needed to pursue his “crazy startup dream.”
The first two years were the most challenging, Kim says, taking losses on a monthly basis before eventually turning a profit. We would be remiss not to note that when it came to getting the word out about his business through content marketing, his very first column was published here at Search Engine Journal.
Kim’s company is still turning in a regular profit and growing fast. Over the past decade, WordStream has brought in over $25 million in venture capital investment dollars and now employs over 200 people. With $1 billion in total ad spend from its customers, WordStream has become one of Google’s largest online advertising partners.
Citing a predictable trajectory for growth over the forseeable future, Kim says there are exciting things ahead for WordStream. The future has never looked better for the company, and Kim wouldn’t consider leaving unless he was confident he’s leaving WordStream in a position to succeed.
What’s Next for Larry Kim?
As for Kim’s future plans, he has yet to reveal too many details other than to say it’s a startup in the mobile and AI space in which he’ll be taking on the role of CEO. He’ll be bootstrapping the company with his personal savings, and already has 35 customers on board.
Believe it or not, it was never Kim’s intention to become known as an internet marketer — it was just something he fell into. With a background in product and engineering, Kim is going back to his roots with a more hands-on role in creating new and innovative products.
“I’m an early stage startup type of guy,” Kim says. He’s already been there with WordStream, and now he wants to do it all over again. If you see and hear less of him over the next while, that’s because his focus is solely on bringing his new product to market.
”Because my focus will be on bringing a new product to market that will mean some changes for me. Less writing. Fewer social media updates. And I’ll be reducing my number of conference speaking engagements.”
With that being said, Kim will be making a rare speaking engagement at SEJ Summit in Chicago on May 11th. Register today one of the only chances to see Larry Kim speak on stage this year.
How You Can Help
If you want to support Larry Kim on his next journey into the startup world, or simply keep in touch, there are a few ways you can do so. He invites everyone to sign up to his new mailing list to receive the latest updates about his new business venture.
Kim is also looking for others to join his team. If you’re in software engineering, marketing, customer service, business development, sales, or product management — connect with Kim via LinkedIn. Lastly, he’s always open to introductions to VCs, if you should feel so inclined.
Kim thanks all of WordStream’s customers, employees, business partners, and investors as he embarks on his new journey. He will remain on WordStream’s board of directors and is still the primary shareholder.