Rob Tarkoff: CEO of Lithium

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Rob is responsible for the strategic direction and corporate vision at Lithium. He assumed the role of President & CEO in September, 2011.

How did you get into the tech industry?

I started my career as a Securities lawyer and quickly realized I wanted nothing to do with it, but I had the opportunity to see how the Silicon Valley was forming around companies like Netscape and other industry legends.  So I jumped at the first chance to go in-house at one of my clients, and then built a career around finding great technology companies that were impacting the way business was done.  It has been a blast!

Tell us about Lithium Technologies. How was the company founded and what is your vision for the company?

The company was founded on the simple principle that your customers know the most about your business, and you should find a way to tap into their real expertise and passion around your products.  It came out of the gaming world, where building trust through reputation and rank is a fundamental concept.  I have leveraged this original concept to try to drive a complete disruption of the CRM industry, as Lithium is becoming the new customer experience platform for all brands that want to build trusted, lasting relationships with their customers.

What strategic partnerships have you implemented that have attributed to Lithium's success? 

Our success to date has largely been as a result of amazing customers.  Our top customers have grown their usage with us considerably, and because of this growth we now power almost all the top telco customer communities in the world.

What industry trends are you noticing and how do you capitalize on them?

Call centers are dying — digital is the new reality.  Because of this, the way we service, sell and market has to change dramatically.

Life Motto?

Never give up 

Your greatest success as CEO of Lithium? Most difficult moment-how did you overcome and what did you learn?

My greatest success has been to get Lithium to be taken seriously as a potential multi-billion dollar company.  The most difficult moment has been every day getting us this far.

Favorite travel destination?

Lake Tahoe — in summer and winter

One food and drink left on earth, what would you choose?

Mint-chip milk-shake — there is nothing better.

What literature is on your bed stand?

Mostly books about dealing with teenagers at this point — I have two of them and it is like nothing I have ever experienced!

Role model - business and personal?

My father — he came from nothing and was able to build a very successful medical practice AND a great family — doing one or the other is a lot easier than doing both.

Current passion?

My passion is my family — there is nothing I enjoy more than being with them, which is never enough.

What's next for Lithium? 

We are in the midst of dramatic change as customer expectations have radically transformed — it is a 5-7 year cycle for brands we know and love to catch up — Lithium is going to help them get there fast enough.


Rob joined Lithium from Adobe Systems, where he served as Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Digital Enterprise Solutions business unit that had annual revenue in excess of $1 billion. At Adobe, Rob pioneered Adobe's Customer Experience Management strategy, and was responsible for the core Acrobat, Adobe Connect Web conferencing, Adobe Digital Enterprise Platform, and customer experience management offerings. He oversaw the Web content management and digital asset management solutions gained through Adobe’s acquisition of Day Software, and he also led Adobe's worldwide enterprise solution partnerships, including system integration partners and strategic ISVs.

Before Adobe, Rob held several executive positions at EMC Corporation, Documentum, Inc. and Commerce One. Earlier in his career, he was an Associate Attorney at the law firm of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.

Rob holds a Juris Doctorate from Harvard Law School and a bachelor's degree from Amherst College. Additionally, Rob serves on Advent Software's board of directors and is a member of the board of advisors for the Lawrence Hall of Science, the largest public science center in the U.S. He has previously served on the board of directors for Borland Software Corporation and Onyx Software.