Tealium, a marketing tech firm, raises $20 million

April 29, 2014, 3:30 PM UTC

You might not have heard of Tealium, but that’s the point. The company dubs itself an “enterprise tag management” company, and aims to serve as a layer of standardization between companies’ marketing departments and the dozens of digital marketing tools they want to use.

The problem, chief executive Jeff Lunsford said, is that all these tools don’t really work together. You can buy into Adobe’s Marketing Cloud, for example, but if you’d like to incorporate software from other vendors, your technology team will have to craft a one-off solution. Tealium believes it can do this at scale, across many vendors and tools.

“There are about 2,000 digital marketing companies out there,” Lunsford told Fortune. “The average company uses 15 to 30 on their website and across their mobile apps. All of these companies are data-driven companies. They want to collect it and use it to do their thing. So what we provide — the tag management category — is a neutral way to have a standardized data layer across those 21 companies on your website.”

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Lunsford likens his company’s offering to the Sabre system used to connect airlines and travel agents or First Data, the payment processor whose Star system sits between consumers’ debit cards and the banks to which they are connected.

“The average mobile or web experience today isn’t served by one content management system as it used to be. It’s 20 different slivers,” Lunsford said. “You need a middleman to take out the friction.”

Friction that Lunsford estimates to be 5 to 10% of the $130 billion spent annually in marketing IT worldwide and $70 billion spent annually on digital advertising.

Which is why the company has an initial public offering in its sights. The company announced a $20 million round of funding this morning, led by Silver Lake Waterman. It’s the company’s fourth round, bringing its total raised to $47 million.

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“Our business is growing, we have over 350 customers, 180 employees, revenue is growing 120% year over year,” Lunsford said. “It’s really taken hold. Everyone now gets what tag management is — it’s really a data standardization platform. There’s a huge buying frenzy in the market.

“This $20 million gives us plenty of capital to get to cash flow positive with a nice buffer. Everyone on the management team has public company experience, so we know what it takes to take this public. This is probably the last round we’ll take, though we’re not in a rush to go public.”

The funds will be used to build out Tealium’s engineering team — more than 40% of its employees are engineers — scale its product, services, and delivery, and expand more deeply into the Asia-Pacific region, Lunsford said.

“This is a decade-long, massive opportunity to really help the industry that we’ve been in for 15 years,” he said. “We’re going to build a lasting, standalone franchise here. We’re not here to build it and flip it. We’re not really disrupting anyone’s business, so no one really loses.”