Ryan Smith is co-founder and CEO of Qualtrics. He bought the Utah Jazz in October 2020. The deal also included Vivint Arena, the G League’s Salt Lake City Stars, and management of the Salt Lake Bees.
Ryan founded Qualtrics in 2002 with his brother Jared Smith and father, Scott Smith. The company is based on technology first developed by Ryan and his father, a Brigham Young University researcher and professor. They recruited Stuart T. Orgill to join them.
“Initially conceived of as a survey tool for academics, the company morphed into a set of tools and deep data analysis optimized for assessing clients’ business vitality, as viewed through the eyes of their clients and/or employees.”
- The idea came from Scott, a BYU professor of marketing research at the time, who wanted to create an online survey tool that could handle sophisticated research but was easy to use. Scott was working on the project when he was diagnosed with cancer in 2001. Ryan, then a BYU business student, wanted to spend time with his dad, so he left an internship at Hewlett-Packard and joined the venture. By the time Scott recovered, the pair had 20 clients.
In 2012, he declined a $500 million cash offer for the company, preferring to grow the company. In 2018, he sold it for a “staggering” $8 billion.
He frequently guest lectures at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, Harvard Business School, and BYU’s Marriott School of Business.
Ryan is a sports fan and backs BYU athletics. (He earned a degree from the Marriott School of Business at BYU.) His cancer fighting charity, 5 for the Fight, has been a sponsor of the Jazz since 2016.
Ryan grew up in Utah and intends to keep the Jazz in Utah. He and his wife, Ashley, have five children.