As he prepares to spend $500 million on AI over the next four years, Qualtrics CEO Zig Serafin already has an incredible asset to leverage: what he says is the world’s largest database of human sentiment. “We help companies understand their customers,” he says, “to know what customers are thinking, what they’re feeling.”

Qualtrics does that by tracking how customers and employees react, consciously or unconsciously, at every touchpoint with the 18,450+ organizations that use his cloud-based software. Every product review, chat session, social media post or other interaction is captured as a unique ‘Experience iD’ — with 13 billion-plus of those IDs now recorded in its database. Through machine learning and AI, Qualtrics helps its users understand pain points, fix problems and design better experiences for their employees and customers.

Serafin came in to discuss what’s next for the company. A veteran of Microsoft, he joined Qualtrics seven years ago as COO, stepping into the CEO job in July 2020. He replaced longtime CEO Ryan Smith, who cofounded the company in Provo, Utah in 2002 with his brother, Jared, and father Scott. Qualtrics was poised to go public in early 2019, only to be snapped up by software giant SAP for $8 billion. SAP spun out the company in 2021 but its public life was cut short in March of this year when Qualtrics accepted a $12.5 billion offer from private equity giant Silver Lake and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPP Investments) to again become private.

Serafin discusses how the shift in ownership and technology has impacted growth plans, and talks about the impact of privacy legislation, competition. Going forward, he predicts, “the world should become more convenient, more personal, more specific to what you want.” And ultimately, he adds, that means “more human.” Click on the interview above to find out more.

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