Early on in his career, Eric Berry ’08 recalls, he was torn between his interests in law and technology. As a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), he worked on the Human Genome Project, the research program that first mapped out the DNA sequences that comprise the human genetic blueprint, and he says he had an “ongoing fascination” with the world of tech.
But Berry also came from a family of lawyers. He founded the MIT Law Club. And, he says, friends and family members often told him, “You’re very argumentative, you should go to law school.”
Today, Berry is drawing on both his passions as co-founder and CEO of TripleLift, a startup that builds technology to support scalable consumer-centric advertising across the web. In each of the past three years, New York-based TripleLift has been among the 500 fastest growing private companies in the country, as measured by both Inc. and Deloitte.
Berry’s journey to founding TripleLift was not entirely linear. After receiving his BS and M.Eng. from MIT, Berry applied to law school, although he deferred his acceptance to NYU Law to first spend a year as an AmeriCorps volunteer, working to help disabled children receive supplemental social security income. At the Law School, Berry says he particularly enjoyed the courses he took within NYU Law’s Jacobson Leadership Program in Law and Business, co-directed by Professors Helen Scott and Gerald Rosenfeld.
“They’ve been very important to my career,” Berry says of Scott and Rosenfeld, “both in terms of what they taught and also in terms of the spirit of the program, which helped expose me to people and entrepreneurs I might not have met otherwise.”
After two years as a corporate associate at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, Berry moved back into the tech world, taking a job in product architecture and client services at advertising technology company AppNexus in 2010. “I joined AppNexus as one of the more junior people in the company… [but] I said to myself that I was going to out-hustle everyone else.” While at AppNexus, Berry also met Ari Lewine and Shaun Zacharia, with whom he founded TripleLift in 2012.
TripleLift produces internet advertisements that integrate with the look and feel of the sites, apps, and video content in which they appear. “We look at the ideal way to monetize for publishers in that context that’s respectful for the consumer,” Berry says.
The company found traction quickly. “We are a profitable business—and I don’t just mean profitable this year or over a period of time, but over the lifetime of the entire company,” Berry says. TripleLift has been funded primarily by two institutional venture capital firms and raised $16.5 million over three funding rounds, Berry says, explaining that the company’s profitability has limited the need for more funding. “In today’s super-charged tech and VC fundraising world, we pride ourselves on being profitable and not raising more money, so that now we control our own destiny,” he says.
Adam D’Augelli of True Ventures, TripleLift’s earliest institutional investor, notes that Berry’s background in law and business and technology was central to True Ventures’ decision to invest in TripleLift early on. “It is rare to find an individual who is incredibly brilliant on hard technical things and soft people things, and he has a unique ability to do both,” D’Augelli says. He adds that he admires not only Berry’s “incredible depth and breadth of knowledge,” but also the way in which he promotes a positive company culture—for example, spearheading TripleLift’s recreational sports team. The company has been included several times in Crain’s list of “Best Places to Work in New York City.”
Berry says he credits his background, including his experience at NYU Law, with making him “uniquely well-positioned to be a CEO in today’s world.” Now he’s giving back to the Law School by volunteering as an alumni mentor for students who have received summer grants from the NYU Law Venture Fund, thus helping the Law School’s next generation of entrepreneurs find their path.
Posted July 23, 2019