This Startup Is Doing $100 Million In Revenue All Because It Lost A Netflix Contest

Laura Teller Opera SolutionsLaura Teller, Opera Solutions

Photo: Opera Solutions

Sometimes it’s good to lose.Three years ago Arnab Gupta’s company, Opera Solutions, was trying to win a Netflix contest worth $1 million. Netflix was looking for a better way to do movie recommendations.

It didn’t happen. Instead, something much better did.

When Netflix announced its contest, Opera was a consulting company. Opera didn’t know how to do this kind of analytics, says Chief Strategy Officer Teller said.

But Gupta didn’t care about that. He began hiring lots of data scientists.

The scientists came up with a great recommendation engine for Netflix. Their tech tied for first place with another teams’ — and that other team submitted theirs 20 minutes earlier and took the prize. So Opera put their scientists to work creating Netflix-like algorithms for things that other businesses need: fraud detection, marketing, stock picking, risk management, procurement, etc.

Last fall VCs fell in love with the staff of scientists and the company’s growth. They poured $84 million in, from Silver Lake Sumeru, Accell-KKR, Invus, Tola Capital and JGE Capital Management, with a valuation of about $500 million, says The Wall Street Journal.

Today, Opera Solutions is generating $100 million in revenue, and it’s about to announce a big partnership with a big enterprise software company and its up-and-coming database.

While most of the tech world focuses on the pivots companies like Instagram, Opera’s pivot shows that all you really need is to dream big, hire well, and don’t let anyone tell you it can’t be done.

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