Meltwater Group is 10 years old, and has been almost entirely self-funded. Lyseggen started the company in Oslo with $15,000 of his own money and has been growing it through revenues ever since. The company now employs 900 people, is headquartered in San Francisco and will post $114 million in revenues in 2011, Lyseggen told me recently.
Lyseggen himself is a bit of an unusual character: A Korean-born adoptee with a ready smile, he grew up on a farm in Norway and speaks with a Norwegian accent. He enjoys salmon fishing in his hometown fjords and reading Viking sagas, according to his company’s website, but he also knows how to work a crowd and has obviously inspired his workforce with a charismatic vision of what Meltwater’s culture is all about.
Meltwater has never taken venture capital. That makes it an anomaly among tech firms in Silicon Valley. If Lyseggen succeeds in reaching a billion dollars in revenues, he’ll have done something very few have accomplished. SAS Institute, HP and Best Buy appear to be the only modern tech companies to have reached this milestone unaided by VC investments.