TCV welcomes Patrick Morrison as Head of Portfolio Talent

We at TCV believe that our greatest asset is the collective group of world-class professionals with whom we have had the pleasure and good fortune to work with over our 27 year history as a firm. 

This is a dynamic and constantly growing group of individuals, which includes the founders and management teams of our current and former portfolio companies, current and former employees and operating executives, and a broad set of top experts across multiple areas.

We are pleased to share that Patrick Morrison is joining TCV as Head of Portfolio Talent. In his role, Patrick will have two primary objectives: nurture and expand TCV’s global talent network; and partner with our portfolio companies to reach their strategic hiring, networking, and organizational goals. He will provide the “heat, light, and attention” necessary to build and sustain a deep and highly accessible community of world-class talent and resources. 

Patrick previously worked at Khosla Ventures, where as Vice President of Talent he worked with a portfolio of 300 companies across enterprise, consumer, digital health, sustainability, and frontier. Prior to Khosla, Patrick led executive search for Adobe’s $7 billion Creative Cloud business. He began his career in Talent at preeminent search firms Korn Ferry and Bespoke Partners, where he led CxO searches for public, private equity, and venture capital backed technology companies.

“Fostering and nurturing connections – and access to top-tier talent, specifically – has never been more important,” says Ric Fenton, General Partner and Chief of TCV’s Investment Operations. “With a community of portfolio companies and executive connections across the globe, we’re thrilled to have someone as talented as Patrick aboard to be a thoughtful and strategic ‘connector’ for our network.” 


TCV’s 2022 Promotions: Muz Ashraf and Amol Helekar named General Partners, and more

At TCV, we firmly believe that it’s our people who make the difference, and we are delighted to share nine major firm-wide promotions.

We are excited to announce the promotion of Muz Ashraf and Amol Helekar to General Partners. Both Muz and Amol have played integral roles in accelerating our investments across multiple sectors, including FinTech and technology-enabled services, and have been instrumental in driving growth for many of our portfolio companies.

In addition, we promoted seven professionals across both our investment and operations teams. David Eichler, Mike Kalfayan, Matt Robinson, and David Zhang have been promoted to Investing Partners, and John Delfino, Aaron Ford and Julia Roux have been promoted to Operating Partners. These elevations recognize the vital contributions these individuals have made to TCV’s progress and highlight the high quality and depth of our leadership bench.

General Partner promotions:

Muz Ashraf

Muz is based in London and joined TCV in 2015. He is passionate about investment opportunities in the internet, software, FinTech and technology-enabled services sectors. He serves on the board of directors of Mollie and RELEX Solutions, and his other current investments include Celonis, Klarna, Mambu, Miro, Redis Labs, Spryker and The Pracuj Group. His former investments include Retail Merchant Services (acquired by SaltPay).

Prior to TCV, Muz was an investor with Vector Capital in San Francisco, where he focused on sourcing, evaluating and executing investments across the software, internet and security sectors.

Muz started his career as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch, working with technology companies on strategic M&A transactions and financing activities. He also worked at T. Rowe Price, where he researched technology investment opportunities in Europe. He earned his M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and holds a B.A. in Economics and an M.S. in Management Science & Engineering from Stanford University.

Amol Helekar

Amol, based in New York, joined TCV in 2009 and focuses on investments in the FinTech, software and tech-enabled services sectors. He serves on the board of directors of Clio and Trulioo, and his other current investments include Built, OneSource Virtual, Payoneer (NASDAQ: PAYO) and Razorpay. He was also actively involved with TCV’s investment in AxiomSL.

Prior to TCV, Amol spent several years with McKinsey & Company, advising clients on strategy engagements in the energy, financial services and technology sectors. Amol received his M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and holds a B.A. in Economics from Stanford University.

Partner positions: 

John Delfino

John, based in Menlo Park, California, joined TCV in 2014, and serves as General Counsel overseeing deal structuring, investments and exits, as well as a range of additional legal and operational matters. Prior to joining TCV, John was at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, advising private equity clients on corporate and securities law services, including mergers and acquisitions, buyouts and fundraising. In addition, John has experience working with private equity and other alternative asset management firms in their formation, fundraising activities and ongoing operations of their investment funds.

John earned a B.A. in Economics and Accounting from the College of the Holy Cross and a J.D./M.B.A. from Santa Clara University.

David Eichler

David, based in Menlo Park, joined TCV in 2013, and focuses on investments in education, HR, FinTech and other software sectors. He serves on the Board of Directors of Perceptyx and his current investments include Built, HireVue, Humu, Nerdy (NYSE: NRDY), Newsela, OneSource Virtual, and Watermark. David’s previous investments include Avalara (NYSE: AVLR), LinkedIn (public investment; acquired by Microsoft) and Tastyworks (acquired by IG Group).

David spent a year away from TCV (2016-2017) working at HireVue in Utah, where he helped develop the company’s sales & marketing strategy. Prior to joining TCV, David was at The Blackstone Group, focusing on technology mergers and acquisitions, and before that he was at Lighthouse Capital Partners. He has an A.B. in Music and Economics from Brown University.

Aaron Ford

Based out of our Menlo Park office, Aaron founded our Data Intelligence Group, which helps TCV make data-driven decisions across the investment lifecycle. He originally joined TCV in 2013 as an investor in the consumer internet sector, where he contributed to TCV’s investments in Airbnb, Dollar Shave Club, GoFundMe, and Rover. Prior to joining TCV, Aaron worked in TMT investment banking at J.P. Morgan. He received his B.A. in Mathematics and Economics from Williams College.

Michael Kalfayan

Mike, based in London, joined TCV in 2014, and focuses on investments in the internet, software and FinTech sectors. His current investments include Believe (Euronext Paris: BLV), FlixMobility, Mambu, Miro, Perfecto, Qonto, Redis, Revolut, Sportradar (NASDAQ: SRAD), SuperVista AG, and Trade Republic.

Mike spent a year away from TCV (2016-2017) working at SiteMinder, where he was Head of Business Operations. Prior to that, Mike was an investor with Summit Partners, where he focused on technology and healthcare sectors. Mike graduated cum laude from Harvard University, where he received an A.B. in Social Studies. He also holds an L.L.B. from the University of Law.

Matt Robinson

Matt, based in New York,  joined TCV in 2011, focusing on healthcare IT and services investment efforts. For the past six years, Matt has helped lead the firm’s IT infrastructure software investment efforts. Matt is actively involved in TCV’s investments in Aviatrix, Devo Technology, HashiCorp (NASDAQ: HCP), OneTrust, Vectra, and Venafi. His prior investments include Cradlepoint (acquired by Ericsson) and Silver Peak (acquired by HPE). Prior to joining TCV, Matt worked at UBS as an analyst in the Global Healthcare Group, advising healthcare clients on a range of transactions spanning M&A, equity and debt offerings. Matt also spent time evaluating healthcare investment opportunities at General Atlantic in New York. Matt received his M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and a B.S. in Biochemistry from Indiana University.

Julia Roux

Based in New York, Julia serves as Head of Investor Relations at TCV. She joined TCV in 2019 to lead the firm’s fundraising and investor relations activities. She brings global fundraising experience in private equity across the technology and emerging markets growth sectors. Prior to TCV, Julia was a Managing Director at Autonomy Capital. She previously worked in private equity at Silver Lake in New York, focusing on global fundraising efforts in Europe, Middle East, and Asia, and was the Head of IR for Vinci Partners based in New York and São Paulo. While at Silver Lake and Vinci Partners, she also supported the deal teams focused on the Brazilian tech sector. She began her career at J.P. Morgan in New York. Julia holds a Master’s degree in Finance from Copenhagen Business School and a Bachelor of Economics from the European Business School, Oestrich-Winkel.

David Zhang

David, based in Menlo Park, California, joined TCV in 2018, focusing on investments in digital media, FinTech and e-commerce. His current investments include Airbnb (NASDAQ: ABNB), Brex, Klarna, Nubank (NYSE: NU), and WealthSimple. David was recognized by Business Insider as one of the Top 25 rising stars in Venture Capital (2019).

Prior to joining TCV, David invested in global internet companies at Dorsal Capital Management and worked in TMT investment banking at Goldman Sachs. David began his career by co-founding an online real estate start-up in Asia. David attended the undergraduate program at the University of Notre Dame and received a B.S. in Economics from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

“We are delighted to announce these promotions, which recognize the great work done to date by our colleagues,” says Jay Hoag, TCV Co-Founder and General Partner.  “Since inception in 1995, TCV has been an active partner to world-leading technology companies, and these professionals embody the core values of our firm and culture we bring to the teams we work with: we expect excellence, and we win, as a team.”

We look forward to their continued contributions for many years to come. Please join us in congratulating our colleagues on their promotions.

The General Partners of TCV

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The companies identified above are not necessarily representative of all TCV investments and no assumption should be made that the investments identified were or will be profitable. For a complete list of TCV investments, please visit http://www.tcv.com/portfolio-list/. For additional important disclaimers regarding this post, please see “Informational Purposes Only” in the Terms of Use for TCV’s website.


Hope For the Best, Plan for the Worst: A TCV Roundtable on Crisis Communications 

Crisis always seems to strike at the most inopportune moments. And for tech companies operating on a multimarket or global scale, there often isn’t time to effectively create bespoke messaging after a crisis has struck. But responding with speed and scale is just one piece of effective crisis communications. What should savvy companies be doing to strategically plan ahead for effective crisis communications? What are the best tactics to align internal and external stakeholders, and formulate responses that can satisfy clients, partners, and the press across multiple time zones? And what steps can be taken when a crisis strikes before a strategic plan has been put into place?

TCV principals Katja Gagen and Kunal Mehta recently brought together a team of PR and crisis experts from the TCV portfolio and beyond to discuss the best practices they use when managing a crisis. Whether the incident is a cybersecurity breach or an internal messaging catastrophe, the roundtable of comms pros from Payoneer, Spotify, TCV, and Trulioo shared their specific strategies for navigating crises before, during, and after catastrophe strikes. 

Managing a Cybersecurity Incident Before Crisis Hits 

As one of the leading providers of instant digital identity verification across the globe, the PR team at Trulioo has found it best to have a plan in place before a cyber crisis strikes. As the company’s PR specialist Alison Gallagher explains, “When it comes to a cybersecurity incident, it’s not really a matter of if, but when.” 

To ready itself for an information security crisis that might come down the pike, the Trulioo communications team works in lockstep with other departments to create a robust incident response team that regularly assesses and reassess its plans of action before they’re needed. Below are some of the key takeaways that Lucy Screnci, a senior PR and communications manager at Trulioo, and Alison have put together for managing cybersecurity incidents. 

  • Create an incident response team that’s larger than just your PR team. By including experts from divisions such as information security (to assess threats and regulations on a market by market basis), IT (to advise on implementing solutions), and legal (to advise on the legal and compliance implications of potential solutions), your organization won’t lose precious time in a crisis scrambling to assemble the right stakeholders. 
  • Reassess and update your plans regularly. The strategic plan that your incident response team creates shouldn’t be static. Because regulations and compliance directives can change, and may vary market by market, having annual check-ins with stakeholders from the incident response team is crucial to make sure your plan is capable of meeting the moment rather than needing revamping while under attack.
  • The key components of a strategic cybersecurity response plan are notification, information gathering, triage, assembly, and post-incident debriefs. When a crisis first strikes, the lead incident response team member should immediately alert the rest of the team. That allows the full team to go into information gathering mode, in order to assess the scope of the crisis and gain a full understanding into what steps need to be solved for. Once that process is complete, the response team can jointly triage the severity of the crisis – Trulioo uses a level one through three model – to determine the appropriate intervention necessary. Once a crisis has been triaged, the incident response team can go back to the strategic plan that was already in place to align around and assemble the key messages that need to be sent to external stakeholders, such as customers, partners, and the press. Once the bulk of the crisis has passed, a post-incident debrief allows the full team to ensure that all loose ends have been tied up, and to reassess what areas of improvement can be updated for future plans. 
  • Be direct and honest, whether speaking to customers, partners, or the press. “It’s really necessary to be direct and don’t try to avoid speaking on an incident,” says Lucy. “Getting caught not disclosing an incident can come with some grave repercussions in the form of lawsuits or fines, so it’s always best to be open and honest.” 
  • Navigating a Crisis When You’re in the Eye of the Storm. Payoneer is a leading global fintech company that provides cross-border payments and working capital to businesses of all sizes in nearly every country in the world. When the news came to light of a major financial fraud committed by one of Payoneer’s providers in 2020, which in turn caused major disruption to its customers, the Payoneer team began communicating frequently and through multiple channels to explain the situation and the steps being taken to remedy it. After three days during which Payoneer sent out several communications directly to customers as well as through social media, full service was resumed and shortly afterwards, Payoneer replaced this provider and upgraded this aspect of the service. Irina Marciano, director of corporate communications at Payoneer, says the team learned first-hand that it pays off to have crisis communications plans in place before crisis strikes.
  • Multiple points of contact in a crisis are critical for global organizations. At Payoneer, the executive team is distributed across Asia, EMEA, and America. Between time zones and varied work weeks, it is important to ensure that there is always a specific subject matter expert available in the time frame needed to craft and approve a response. By having multiple points of expertise and contact, incident response teams can ensure that there’s always someone able to weigh in on a time sensitive statement, and a team ready to deliver the message immediately.
  • Communicate effectively, and quickly. Because Payoneer is both a regulated and publicly traded company, the company always acts with care in how it communicates. The incident in 2020 drew attention to the importance of timely communication for global companies with users who are online in multiple time zones. According to Irina, “You need to say something. Make sure it’s thought out and reviewed by legal, but say something so that your customers know that you are taking this seriously and you’re doing whatever you can to resolve it. If you don’t say anything, you can be sure that rumors will fill the vacuum.”
  • Create your crisis comms playbook before crisis strikes. Payoneer built out a crisis comms playbook, especially as the company more than quadrupled in size in just a few years. While many of the processes for a crisis were inherently known, by building out a formal protocol and sample messaging, the company was able to ensure that a response was ready to roll out far quicker for future crises.

Working with Global PR Teams and Global Press to Align on Messaging 

When Spotify expanded its podcasting operations beyond the U.S. into more than 17 additional markets across the globe, it found it had to quickly bring both its global comms team and each of their PR agencies up to speed on the company’s corporate messaging. Because many of those teams had previously focused on music streaming, there was an influx of information to impart while also adapting it to the nuances of each market. Beejoli Shah, a former manager of global podcast communications at Spotify, walks us through ways the Spotify PR team aligned its large and disparate group of PR pros around company messaging. We also learn from Sarum PR on working with journalists in markets around the globe, to stay focused on the message while also adapting to the cultural norms and nuances of regional press corps. 

  • Create a master messaging library with approved external statements. Because crises can strike in any time zone, Spotify assembled a master messaging library of statements that it had previously used when speaking with the press. The document was updated regularly by PR leads across various business units, so that PR leads in the markets and their respective agency partners always had a set of topline messaging at hand, as well as an accurate register of statements that had been provided to press in the past. Even though PR teams were dealing with reporters in their own markets, having a global library ensured that no matter who was responding to a journalist, the company’s message was uniform across markets and across incidents. Beejoli says that the benefits of the master messaging document were two-fold. Not only did it allow for global teams to make sure they had topline messaging at hand, but it also helped PR team members across time zones and agencies know what had been said previously. “There’s always going to be one reporter who says, ‘Well, you said this last time,’ and having a library helps protect you for those moments.”
  • Update global teams and agency partners regularly on company goals and topline messaging. Once a year, Spotify would host a summit for its agency partners across the globe. Because podcasting was a newer initiative, the podcast PR team held a separate summit annually where the different business units involved in podcasting were able to elucidate key priorities, topline messaging, and share proactive and reactive comms plans that had worked in the past. Doing so helped create a shared language across markets for Spotify’s podcasting efforts, and established a knowledge base of PR strategies on a global scale. By including links to relevant documents, including previous comms plans, and the master messaging library, Spotify’s agencies across the globe were able to stay aligned on messaging no matter the topic. 
  • Use your local agencies to respond to crises. While having a unified messaging strategy is critical, journalists will often reach out to anyone they can get a hold of, especially across markets. As Carina Birt from Sarum PR explains, in certain markets reporters can even be particular about wanting to speak to a representative in-market. “We’ve seen that European reporters tend to be more particular about speaking from a European context, and it’s not very effective to have them speak to someone from the US.” To plan for these nuances, having regional spokespeople ready to be deployed in a crisis can be key to maintaining unified messaging across markets. 

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The views and opinions expressed are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of TCMI, Inc. or its affiliates (“TCV”). TCV has not verified the accuracy of any statements by the speakers and disclaims any responsibility therefor. This blog post is not an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any private fund managed or sponsored by TCV or any of the securities of any company discussed. The TCV portfolio companies identified, if any, are not necessarily representative of all TCV investments, and no assumption should be made that the investments identified were or will be profitable. For a complete list of TCV investments, please visit www.tcv.com/all-companies/. For additional important disclaimers regarding this interview and blog post, please see “Informational Purposes Only” in the Terms of Use for TCV’s website, available at http://www.tcv.com/terms-of-use/.


Consolidated in the Cloud: Darwinbox Delivers End-to-End Talent Management on Demand

Although it’s been over 20 years since McKinsey officially christened the catchphrase “war for talent,” its implications are felt more today than ever before. Global business has become increasingly competitive and borderless, and both the importance and difficulty of attracting and retaining world-class talent has steadily grown. The Covid-induced Great Resignation has now provided the exclamation point needed for companies to wake up to this new reality. 

This massive structural shift has, in turn, escalated the importance of HR teams and shone a spotlight on the tools at their disposal to provide amazing employee experiences from hire-to-retire.

Darwinbox, headquartered in India, has been making waves in this space for many years and we are delighted to welcome them to the TCV family. The company aims to transform HR management and employee engagement via its unique end-to-end cloud-native HR suite. 

Darwinbox’s HCM platform offers both Core HR (the central system of record for employee data) as well as a broad, integrated HR suite spanning the entire employee lifecycle including recruitment, workforce management, employee engagement, performance & talent development, and integrated payroll.

Increasing employee engagement, optimizing performance and productivity, and leveraging technology and data are areas that TCV has been actively investing in. For example, TCV portfolio company Humu’s intelligent technology platform coaches managers and employees into developing work habits that are scientifically proven to drive performance. 

“Investing in technology to find, retain, and engage talent has become inevitable for organizational success,” says Jessica Neal, Venture Partner at TCV. “The pandemic has shown us clearly that we need to support and empower our employees differently, and Darwinbox is on a mission to enable that. I’ve been impressed with their offerings which provide HR leaders with a solution to address the entire employee lifecycle.” 

Challenging the Old Guard

Let’s put Darwinbox’s achievements in context. The mid-market and enterprise HCM landscape in Asia has been dominated by antiquated solutions such as SAP SuccessFactors, Oracle, and, to a lesser extent, Workday for many years. In our view, these platforms were designed decades ago and, owing to their on-prem legacies, have largely failed to innovate. We think they provide rather poor experience for employees and HR teams alike, lack flexibility, have painful & lengthy implementation processes, and are often expensive. 

In contrast, Darwinbox offers a cloud-native, mobile-first offering, architected to be easy to configure and implement even for large and complex organizations. Darwinbox also has deep understanding of the local cultural context ‒ their mobile-optimized offering (optimized to work across a broader range of device and network types) is a prime example of this given the low level of desktop access for employees across industries in some of the emerging markets.

This differentiated approach has enabled Darwinbox to quickly win share in some emerging markets, with 150+ customers already having switched to Darwinbox from SAP, Oracle, or Workday. As a result, it is among the fastest-growing cloud HCM platforms in Asia today, and on track to be the #1 cloud player by scale in Asia within the next two years. 

Darwinbox’s success is receiving global recognition and the company recently secured a prized spot on Gartner’s Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud HCM Suites (the only vendor of Asian origin to do so). It is also the highest-rated HCM platform globally on Gartner Peer Insights (4.8/5 stars).

Putting the Employee First

A key driver of Darwinbox’s success is its design philosophy that puts the employee experience at the heart of every decision the firm makes. The platform replicates the frictionless and highly-optimized user experiences in the workplace that we have become accustomed to in our daily lives, while at the same time preserving enterprise goals on talent management and needs on scalability and security. 

Reflecting this, one of Darwinbox’s north star metrics is user engagement, citing DAU/MAU of 50+% reflecting the value it is providing to its customers (and driving stickiness once the platform has been rolled out across the employee base).

Built from Asia, for the World

Darwinbox, which employs over 500 people today, was co-founded in 2015 by Jayant Paleti, Rohit Chennamaneni, and Chaitanya Peddi who bring deep expertise and collective decades of experience working with HR and digitalization processes from their time working at McKinsey and Ernst & Young. 

While built out of India, the team has taken a very deliberate approach to scaling (e.g. building fully flexible architecture that can be quickly tailored to match local HR workflows) and has always had global ambitions. After several years of operating in India, Darwinbox made its first foray into international expansion in 2019, and began building up its presence in Southeast Asia, a region which exhibited many of the same pain points experienced by customers in India. Since then, Darwinbox has begun expanding into the Middle East and intends to continue expanding its footprint globally, growing an already impressive customer base (1.5M+ users across 650+ companies in over 90 countries).

We, at TCV, are thrilled to be partnering with the entire Darwinbox team on this journey. And, as usual, we’re in it for the long haul.

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The views and opinions expressed are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of TCMI, Inc. or its affiliates (“TCV”). TCV has not verified the accuracy of any statements by the speakers and disclaims any responsibility therefor. This blog post is not an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any private fund managed or sponsored by TCV or any of the securities of any company discussed. The TCV portfolio companies identified, if any, are not necessarily representative of all TCV investments, and no assumption should be made that the investments identified were or will be profitable. For a complete list of TCV investments, please visit www.tcv.com/all-companies/. For additional important disclaimers regarding this interview and blog post, please see “Informational Purposes Only” in the Terms of Use for TCV’s website, available at http://www.tcv.com/terms-of-use/.


Top Ten Takeaways from TCV’s Q1 Sales Ops Roundtable

To support our family of portfolio companies navigate these turbulent times, we have been hosting a series of webinars and roundtables, focused on sharing business fundamentals and best practices for c-level executives. We recently brought together members of the TCV family for the quarterly TCV Sales Ops Roundtable featuring Ronnie Gurion, COO of ClioMatt Cox, VP of Rev Ops at FinancialForce, and Fred Sanders, VP of Rev Ops at OneSource Virtual

We gained some great insights. Here are our top 10 takeaways:

  1. Early in the Go-To-Market planning process, push for the key strategic pillars. This will allow the rest of the teams to march in unison. Unless there are fundamental shifts in the business, 70 to 80% of strategic pillars should carry over year over year.

  2. Planning is an expansive process, but too often it becomes sales-centric. You often see account expansion get the short straw of resources, and you often miss some of the biggest opportunities for growth through in-app or product opportunities. Often, the latter have a bigger impact than the sales-centric approach, so be aware.

  3. The most effective way to kill a sales team is through a poorly thought through sales comp plan. And to insert nails further in the coffin, deliver that plan late.

  4. We often see companies rolling out new product and simply telling Sales, “Here’s your new quota.” But adding quota or new product targets to sales teams in this way does not create alignment. We find the most competent and most confident resources in the company are the best set of resources to use in introducing new product. It also works as a learning tool when you more broadly introduce the new product, as it sorts out all sorts of operational issues and gives your top resources visibility into the management team in a new way.

  5. Rather than having annual budgets, we optimize on a few metrics like LTV/CAC or percentage of sales team above quota. That gives leaders a pathway to invest more in Sales in an uncapped way.

  6. When you look at your win-rates, model it out by stage. What moved the needle from stage to stage? Do you know? How closely did your propensity to buy models align to win-rates? Do the same for losses as well to make sure reps are not just warehousing deals.

  7. If you are part of a private equity team, make sure to connect with your peers at other companies. We have found it useful to run meet-ups with specific vendors that have a center of gravity in the portfolio where they can share what the best companies are doing. It’s always useful to learn where companies are hitting obstacles as well, of course.

  8. Many companies build propensity to purchase models primarily focused on new logo growth. Don’t forget to model out propensity to spend for your existing accounts as well. That is just as important in your planning and prioritization process, but often given less focus by sales leaders.

  9. If you are trying to become a platform or moving off a single product, the hot question is going to be bundling. Prototype this out well in advance.

  10. When interviewing sales op talent, the best candidates are the ones that did research about you and your addressable market prior to the interview. Make sure you ask candidates about what they know, and where they see potential opportunity to add value based on what they have learned.

TCV runs quarterly roundtables across executive roles to surface best practices, drive networking and road test ideas. We are looking forward to the Q2 TCV Sales Ops Roundtable, where we’ll focus on sales management team best practice, cadences, as well as share the insights of our ever-growing network of battle-tested leaders.


Insights from Collective[i]: How Data-Driven Decision Making is Transforming the B2B Sales Industry to Be More Efficient, Accurate, and Optimized for Success

Growth Hacks – Moving the Metric

As the founder of Collective[i], a leading platform for AI-enabled digital sales, Stephen Messer spends a great deal of time thinking about how sales organizations can better use technology to drive intelligent transformations of their sales processes. As Stephen has seen firsthand, one of the biggest pain points for any sales organization is manual data entry. While the process can be cumbersome, the need for accurate lead capture is higher than ever. Sales decisions have been shifting away from one to two points of contact towards a circle of influence that can involve multiple members of a target business, and by leaving a bulk of those decision makers out of a CRM, both sales and marketing teams are denying themselves the ability to leverage their connections to this larger team of decision makers. What’s worse, they’re limiting their ability to analyze this data that would help them better understand a target’s buying decisions and optimize the best route to close deals and influence their own go-to-market strategies. 

In the latest episode of Growth Hacks, Stephen breaks down for Kunal and Katja the reason that he believes the B2B sales industry is on the precipice of undergoing a major digital transformation that will move the field away from its existing qualitative mentality into one driven by data-heavy analysis that can actually move the needle. He walks us through some of the surprising takeaways he’s seen through Collective[i]’s Intelligent WriteBack product, such as the fact that most sales teams spend 20% of their time – up to an entire day per week – on forecasting and predictions that often don’t yield highly accurate results. He offers solutions for ways that sales teams can better think about forecasting and predictions, and explains how better data capture and data analysis will allow for better modeling and optimization of go-to-market strategies in both the short and long term for businesses that are willing to invest time into better data capture. 

Key Takeaways: 

  • Why companies are still wasting time on ineffective forecasting, and ways to do it better.

    One of the major themes that Stephen has seen through Collective[i]’s platform is that organizations are still spending roughly 20% of their time working on forecasting. When looked at from a different lens, that’s one day per week that’s being dedicated to a non-revenue producing task. Compounding the issue is the fact that it is rare for marketers to predict the future, which means that one-fifth of each week is spent chasing an accuracy rate that may never be reached. Collective[i] instead leverages its AI-powered platform to better understand what’s changing in a business’ landscape on a day-to-day scale. While it can be easy to get sucked into the standard model of months-ahead forecasting, Stephen suggests using data to understand how the world is changing in the near term. As he puts it, “What [boards] really want to understand is how the daily change is affecting their likely future, so that they can decide, ‘Do I open up the budget or do I close it down?’ They want to make sure they’re on track, that it’s reliable, and that everything is predictable.”
  • How the sphere of influence in purchasing decisions has grown to involve larger networks.

    As any salesperson knows, one of the largest challenges of managing a CRM database is the time spent on manual data entry. While skipping the process of entering leads may seem like a minor trade-off to make in pursuit of revenue-generating activities, Collective[i] has seen that the sphere of influence in purchasing has expanded significantly. What used to be one or two contacts has now become seven to eight buyers involved in a transaction, many of whom remain unknown to the larger sales and marketing organizations. Stephen estimates that these days, roughly 70% of people involved in a deal never even make it into a CRM. But if sales organizations start paying attention to the importance of making sure those contacts are accounted for, it becomes imminently clear that purchasing decisions are influenced by a much larger group. 

    “It changes the way you think about how the buyer is going through their buying process, and that can give you a real advantage if you know who’s there,” says Stephen. “Take account-based marketing. If you never know who’s there, and you don’t know the personas, you’re not going to be able to get that marketing tailwind from your organization simply because you can’t get that information into the CRM.”
  • Ways that AI can help sales teams to better understand buying decisions and optimize go-to-market strategy.

    Once teams begin to internalize the idea that buying decisions are made by a larger circle of influence, they can unlock the value in all the data being collected around buying decisions. Companies can better leverage opportunities using the full force of their networks, and capitalize on the social connections that can be uncovered through that data. By using AI, sales organizations can take this one step further. Rather than sifting through contacts in a CRM to find the best set of first and second-degree connections to a circle of influence, B2B sales organizations can use technology to analyze large data sets and better understand how buying decisions are made by that buying group. “If I can observe that same buying group across multiple sellers, it allows us to really start making good predictions about when they do this, what it means, or what they’re going to do next. And then we can look across an even larger network to start to understand what people do that leads to certain wins or losses,” explains Stephen. 

    Once those predictions are being put into action, savvy sales organizations can even use the data from their hits and misses to optimize their go-to-market strategy for the future. “The cool part of AI is that you can run the time forward [and say] here is the stack pattern of what we’ve done today. What is the optimal thing [I] can do next? How do I personalize my sale to the way this buying group likes to buy?” 
  • Why Stephen is bullish on sales organizations changing their operational playbooks as the industry further digitizes.

    As evidenced by the data Stephen has collected on time overspent on forecasting, it’s apparent that the sales industry is ripe for changing how it has operated in the past. For decades the industry has operated on a qualitative model of decision making, but Stephen and his team at Collective[i] are confident that the industry will begin to move towards a much more data-driven sales process. “The biggest myth is that sales organizations are going to continue to operate in the same way they’ve done over the last 30 to 40 years. I think a lot of people are tweaking around the edges. I see this as a transition from being a very qualitative, very opinion-based world, to a very quant heavy world,” says Stephen. 

    While the concept may seem cumbersome, leading organizations to believe they shouldn’t rock the boat, he implores companies to remember that change isn’t as hard as it seems – after all, brand marketers were able to adapt to a new generation of digital marketing over the past decade, and in the last couple years alone, many organizations that had never used tools such as video conferencing quickly adapted to a new remote normal in a matter of weeks. “I think sales is going through a huge transition as it digitizes, and that will change everything about how we operate for the better,” says Stephen.

***

The views and opinions expressed are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of TCMI, Inc. or its affiliates (“TCV”). TCV has not verified the accuracy of any statements by the speakers and disclaims any responsibility therefor. This interview and blog post are not an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any private fund managed or sponsored by TCV or any of the securities of any company discussed. The TCV portfolio companies identified, if any, are not necessarily representative of all TCV investments, and no assumption should be made that the investments identified were or will be profitable. For a complete list of TCV investments, please visit www.tcv.com/all-companies/. For additional important disclaimers regarding this interview and blog post, please see “Informational Purposes Only” in the Terms of Use for TCV’s website, available at http://www.tcv.com/terms-of-use/.


Collective[i]: Leveraging Artificial Intelligence to Analyze Decision Making, Influence Go-To-Market Strategy, and Bring B2B Sales Organizations Into the 21st Century

While CRM platforms have been a cornerstone of the sales industry for decades, many parts of the B2B sales playbook can still reflect decision-making from decades past. Whether it’s faulty data capture, cumbersome manual data entry, or inefficient forecasting, the digital revolution has yet to fully transform B2B sales organizations away from their traditional, intuition-based operating practices. While following the tried-and-true sales strategies may yield modest success, leveraging AI-powered sales data allows sales organizations the opportunity to better understand their buyers, cut down on time spent attempting to predict the future, and close deals as a team that might have otherwise been left in the pipeline.

In this episode of Growth Hacks, Kunal and Katja are joined by Stephen Messer, the founder of Collective[i], a leader in AI-enabled digital sales and customer relationship management. Stephen walks the group through some of the biggest learnings he and his team have seen on Collective[i]’s data-powered platform, and how they can be used to relieve many of the pain points he continues to see B2B sales organizations struggle with. He breaks down how decision making has shifted in recent years, and what sales teams can do to better service these new spheres of influence and walks the team through some of the biggest myths he sees persisting in modern B2B sales today.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • Why companies are still wasting time on ineffective forecasting, and ways to do it better
  • How the sphere of influence in purchasing decisions has grown to involve larger networks
  • Ways that AI can help sales teams to better understand buying decisions and optimize go-to-market strategy
  • Why Stephen is bullish on sales organizations changing their operational playbooks as the industry further digitizes

To hear more on this, settle in and press play. 

Please find the transcript below, which has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Kunal: It is a real pleasure to introduce you to today’s guest. He’s many things, among them an entrepreneur, a founder, attorney, patent holder, professor at Columbia, angel investor, winner of a ton of awards, brother, son. Please welcome Stephen Messer, who’s the founder of Collective[i], which is a leader in AI-enabled digital sales. This company has seen thousands of opportunities run across its platform and today Stephen’s going to share insight that no one company could get on their own. We’re to go through those today. Welcome, Stephen.

Stephen: Thank you so much. It’s great to be here.

Katja: Great, Stephen. Where does this podcast find you today?

Stephen: Today I am in the beautiful Saint Kitts in the Caribbean.

Katja: Awesome. That’s quite the location. As we start the new year, we are really excited about bringing you a different flow for today’s episode. We’re actually partnering with Collective[i] to share the top 10 takeaways based on the enormous amount of data that they gather on their platform. So, Stephen, let’s start with number one, Salesforce activity. How much of it is actually recorded in Salesforce?

Stephen: This is a crazy statistic. When you look today, there’s probably less than 16% of the activities that a sales professional does is mapped into the CRM. Now, that by the way also ignores all the contexts that usually are supposed to be put in, but don’t get in as well. We have a product called Intelligent WriteBack and the goal of that product is actually to find what’s really going on and the reason that CRM is so dependent on getting an accurate and complete view of what the seller is doing every day to help them improve.

Kunal: Stephen, I know when we run those assessments, even in our own companies, that 16% almost has a plus or minus of one, so it is truly a solid stat on what the activity of the reps are. Just imagine if we were a contestant on Wheel of Fortune — how many phrases would we get right if we could only see 16% of the letters?

Stephen: Yeah, you’d have to probably hope for a two-letter word for you to be able to figure it out. If it is a normal phrase, you would probably be looking at this saying there’s no chance. I think that’s exactly what’s happening in sales orgs today that are looking at their data.

Katja: Wow, that’s astounding. Moving on to number two, Steve, which is a popular topic with TCV as well, forecasting. How many hours does the average company spend on forecasting and how accurate has it been? And I want to hear your Marvel story.

Stephen: Yeah, forecasting is an interesting one. When you look at the statistics, whether it be from analysts or even from the data that we’ve seen, most organizations have historically spent about 20% of their time doing forecasting. So forecast Fridays are actually forecast Fridays. They spend the entire day. It’s kind of amazing to think that we give up 20% of selling, which is one day out of every week, to focus on a non-revenue producing task of forecasting. I find it even more crazy because it’s trying to do something that no one’s really been able to do in the history of the world, which is accurately predict some future event. No human on the planet has ever predicted the future. They’re giving up 20% of their time to get to an accuracy rate that’s almost been historically impossible to do.

When we look at that, we think to ourselves, okay, this is a real problem. And in fact, this is where my Marvel story comes in. I’m a comic book geek. I love them all. And in Marvel, there’s always a lot of themes around moving to the future and back and forth. But if you look at even the most recent Marvel movies, The Avengers, what you’ll see is that Doctor Strange saves humanity at the end of the movie by being able to go and live millions of lives to see which is the only way that they’ll be able to defeat the evil villain.

In this case, it’s pretty amazing. He gets it right. But two movies earlier before this evil villain even showed up, Doctor Strange is in a movie and could not predict that this person was coming to avoid it. In other words, even the superhero with the power to see the future has a 50-50 hit rate at best. What that tells us is that storyline worked because no one believes that anyone can predict the future. We think forecasting is going to go through a big revolution in AI and we’re excited to see people get 20% of their day back and more accurate up-to-date daily predictions.

Kunal: I love the Marvel story, Stephen. I think Marvel has like 7,000 characters and like two can predict the future, which just tells you how difficult it is to do. I know from a TCV perspective, we view forecasts. It’s like Kevlar for the board. When you have predictability, it makes spending the budget that’s allocated way easier. I think the forecast plays a critical role at all levels, but if you’re an operator in the company, you can find your budget being restricted if you start not to be predictable.

Stephen: And I think that’s really it. I think what boards want is the confidence in understanding what’s changing in the world. No one expects a sales professional at the start of the pandemic to predict exactly what’s going on. In fact, if you look at most of our competitors in forecasting, we were the only ones who hired up instead of laid off people because our AI was telling us that it was actually going to be a good thing, an accelerator for our business. I think companies like Zoom and some other players had a huge lift from the pandemic, so laying off people would’ve been putting the wrong brakes on and using people’s opinions probably wouldn’t have been the best way. But what they want to understand is how is the daily change affecting their likely future so they can decide, do I open up budget or do I close it down? They also want to make sure that they’re on track, that it’s reliable, that everything is predictable, and I think that’s really what forecasting with an AI product is all about.

Katja: That’s great. Sticking with superheroes, I always like the Lasso of Truth of Wonder Woman as well, which I think is something I would like to have.

Stephen: I think salespeople would like to have that with their customers as well.

Katja: I think so. Moving on to number three, one of my favorite topics, is the number of leads in people’s emails that never make it to marketing.

Stephen: It’s not just emails. It could be in their phone calls; it could be in their video conferences. I think the challenge around CRM has been the cost that it takes to enter information and the mundane nature of it. I did use to work with the UN and I used to joke around and say the only thing the Geneva Conventions didn’t cover was making intelligent people do manual data entry into databases. It’s cruel, it’s hard, and that’s why a lot of salespeople tend not to put that information into the CRM, even though it’s some of the most critical data that they need. When we think about that today, what you end up with is maybe one or two contacts entering into the CRM when in reality, seven to eight buyers are involved in the transaction and that sales team, and the marketing teams have no idea about those other people.

Kunal: Yeah, what we’ve seen, and I think what we’ve heard in the past is roughly 70% of the people we work with on an opportunity just never make it into Salesforce. and I think you’re validating that with the data you’re seeing as well.

Stephen: Yeah, we’ve seen it in your portfolio, right? It’s amazing how many names get uncovered that are involved and it changes the way you think about how the buyer is going through their buying process. That can give real advantage if you know who’s there. Take for example account-based marketing, a very popular new form of doing personalized marketing communications. Well, if you never know who’s there and you don’t know the personas, you’re not going to be able to get that marketing tailwind from your organization simply because you can’t get that information into the CRM and put it in a way where it’s trustworthy.

Katja: That’s right, and that leads to our next topic. How do you then build a solid pipeline? Right? Because what we are seeing is that the majority of pipelines have really bad data; we see that these deals are in the pipeline that are over a year old. They have closed dates that have changed more than three times, but actually no activity in the last seven days and no change in stage in the last 30 days. What happens is usually half the pipeline falls out when we look at the health this way. What’s your fascinating pipeline stats, Stephen?

Stephen: I’m going to first highlight things that every sales leader who’s been around for the last decade knows. We used to talk about 2X pipeline coverage, then it became 3X and 4X and 5X pipeline coverage. It wasn’t that win rates were going down; it was that salespeople started warehousing more and more deals. When you don’t have visibility into the actual activities and contacts that the sales organization is interacting with, it’s easy to lose sight of which deals have just gone away that the seller doesn’t want to close. That can be as simple as loss aversion, or they want to hold onto it in the hope it comes back where they can get it again.

When you look at these pipelines, it’s actually causing real problems. Your CDR team doesn’t even know who to feed new deals to. It creates all these issues. The bigger issue is all the while they’re being warehoused, these opportunities are sitting there idle. There are no marketing messages going there, there’s no keeping up with the buyer who may no longer even be at the org. This is a real problem. What we see today is that sales professionals hold on to close lost deals for about three times longer than a closed deal.

Kunal: That’s a fascinating stat, and Katja and I have seen this over and over. We actually have a white paper on pipe dream versus pipeline that covers some of this as well.

Stephen: Yeah, it’s a great read and I recommend it for anyone who’s listening to this podcast.

Katja: Thank you. It’s definitely eye-opening what we’ve observed working with companies. Along those lines, we also see that almost 100% of companies assign leads based on territories. And they almost make no reference to connections, which feels like 1950s selling. What do you think, Steve?

Stephen: Look, I think sales is going through a huge revolution and a lot of the ways that all of us came up through sales leadership must be re-examined. When you think about territory management, that was designed for the traveling salesperson who carried a roll of dimes in their pocket, would carry their bag from location to location. So, it made sense that territories be fixated around where it was fastest for them to meet the most customers.

Well, that hasn’t existed since the ’50s. The world has changed. I would argue cell phones alone changed it but look what’s happened during the pandemic. People can work from anywhere. It’s easy enough to do business from anywhere thanks to modern day technology, but the biggest thing that we see today is that as people have access to social networks, they are leveraging their relationships to learn what other products other people are using, what works and what doesn’t work. The idea that companies aren’t countering that trend by leveraging relationships that exist in their org, just lying there as data not being used, we think is just sad because there’s a lot of opportunity for people to leverage their friends, their family, their past colleagues, their prior customers. All of this exists and it’s just sitting there to be taken advantage of.

Kunal: Outstanding. Most closed lost opportunities, they’re lost because of no decision, no actual competition involved, and this is code for we just never got buy-in. Maybe you can speak to the number of people you’re seeing involved in a deal as well as how you guys map out circle of influence here to measure, are these opportunities going to close, not close, et cetera?

Stephen: You can probably tell from my statements I really believe that the social world has moved from the consumer into the B2B. And we’ve known that when it comes to jobs around things like LinkedIn, but you’re now seeing it spread into the sales world. We have a product called Connectors that allows you to discover connections, both at your org, but amongst your friends and your family and prior colleagues, et cetera, because we think that’s the most important thing. Why? Well, today if you were to look at the number of buyers involved in a transaction, you’d see across our network that they’ve gone up every single year. Now we’re not alone. All the analysts have been talking about this for a while, but what that means is a lot of the ways that we’ve historically sold, what we’re looking at now is that buyers are making decisions where they’re doing the research on the web first, they’re getting a lot of people involved. It’s a consensus-based purchase and they have their own model and methods of buying.

On the selling side, we’re seeing the same thing. There’s not just one seller anymore. We used to hold the salesperson accountable, but today we have to hold people like legal and finance, your joint venture partners or resellers accountable. What that means is you now have a lot more people involved. Well, the benefit of that is that they all have access to connections as well where they can leverage, and in fact, if the organization can start to learn that circle of influence, they can actually work in conjunction with that buying group to influence everybody involved. It’s a pretty powerful world when all these social connections are working together.

Kunal: I totally agree, Stephen, and one interesting thing that we see that you guys have patterned out is you would take the win rates and you would be able to pattern out kind of these next best set of actions based on what’s kind of moved the needle in the buying journey. Maybe you could talk a little bit about how you guys do that and what the impact has been.

Stephen: The funny part is AI has been popular in the consumer world over the last 20 years, really accelerating in the last 10 years as neural networks have spread through, and a lot of the things that we love so much about those B2C apps is how personalized and how effective they are. The way they do that is by leveraging large networks of data, right? Facebook, TikTok, et cetera. Well, those same exact technologies are being applied now into the B2B world, and in particular B2B sales. We use all these technologies and a large data set to help us find out how does each buying group make their buying decisions? If I can observe that same buying group across multiple sellers, it allows us to really start making good predictions about when they do this, what it means or what they’re going to do next. Then we can look across an even larger network to start to understand what people do that lead to certain win or losses.

The cool part about AI is you can run the time forward, which is, okay, here is the stack pattern of what we’ve had today. What’s the optimal thing you can do next? We can suggest that and just like all apps, take Waze for example, I don’t always have to take the optimal route if I don’t like the route, but the route they’re suggesting is probably going to be the fastest. If I take it, it’ll look at the activity. If something new happens, it’ll reroute it again. So, you’re always looking for, what’s the optimal way to work with this customer? In other words, how do I personalize my sale to the way this buying group likes to buy?

Kunal:

What I love about it is the fact that on a win, you can tell me the needle-moving actions that happen in aggregate even all the way to the industry level. I think it’s super precise, and on the flip side, I can take my losses and map out what is not moving the needle. So, again, it has the impact of making my go-to market strategy, just giving it more precision.

Stephen: You know what else is cool for sales organizations and sellers? It’s so personalized that it’s giving them their unique advantages served up to them on a plate. When they win that transaction because they had a great connection over at the org, that’s something that only they could have taken advantage of. It’s a really powerful way to get every bit of strength out of your organization.

Katja: Well, Stephen, we’ve covered a lot of myths. What’s one that surprised you in 2021?

Stephen: It’s a good question. the thing that most surprises me is this idea that we can still predict the future. The reason I say that is we’re sitting here locked at home at the point where all of us thought we were going back to the office. I just saw today that Apple has postponed indefinitely when they’re going to go back to office. This idea that rather than reacting to news quickly and having the optimal way of doing things, we’re still trying to predict the future. I feel like COVID has been the great lesson in the fact that as great as we think we are at making decisions, we’re not always great at predicting the future, but what we are amazing at is how we can react successfully to it.

The American economy and globally the economy is going strong because we all moved onto the web, and we all were able to make really fast changes in the way we historically operated. I think the thing that we’ve learned more than anything else and the biggest myth is that change can be hard. I’ve watched organizations that never had video conferencing switch overnight and operate globally on video conferencing within a span of weeks. I think we can change quickly.

Kunal: I agree, Steve. And when you have something come in so significant that forces you to change, you’re able to break through barriers way faster than you thought was humanly possible. I guess, as we kind of wrap up here, what’s one enduring myth you wish would just go away based on the data you’ve seen over the last 10 years?

Stephen: It’s a good question. If I were to pick one myth, I think the biggest myth is that the sales organizations are going to continue to just operate in the same way they’ve done over the last 30, 40 years. I think a lot of people are tweaking around the edges. I see this as a transition from being a very qualitative, very opinion-based world to a very quant heavy world. We saw 20 years ago the marketing world move from brand marketing to digital marketing, and while it might have seemed scary at the time, today they’re one of the most powerful parts of any organization where arguably years ago, they were considered to be tarot card readers. Today they’re core producers. I think sales will go through a huge transition as it digitizes, and that will change everything about how we operate for the better.

Katja: That’s awesome. Thank you so much, Steve. It was so nice to have you on the show. And some of the takeaways that I’ve picked up are throwing out the old playbooks and leverage AI as well as relationships and connections to get better at many things, including forecasting, lead generation, building a pipeline, and more. With the universe of buyers and their access to information increasing, we also see sales teams growing with more people involved in the process. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on how to increase win rates and pitfalls to avoid. And most importantly, how buyers and sellers can work together. Thanks so much for being with us today, Steve.

Stephen:

Thank you for having me on the show. It’s been fantastic.

Katja:

Thanks for listening to Growth Hacks. You can follow us on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen. To learn more about us and TCV’s CEO and founder podcast, go to tcv.com or email us at growthhacks@tcv.com.

***

The views and opinions expressed are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of TCMI, Inc. or its affiliates (“TCV”). TCV has not verified the accuracy of any statements by the speakers and disclaims any responsibility therefor. This interview and blog post are not an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any private fund managed or sponsored by TCV or any of the securities of any company discussed. The TCV portfolio companies identified, if any, are not necessarily representative of all TCV investments, and no assumption should be made that the investments identified were or will be profitable. For a complete list of TCV investments, please visit www.tcv.com/all-companies/. For additional important disclaimers regarding this interview and blog post, please see “Informational Purposes Only” in the Terms of Use for TCV’s website, available at http://www.tcv.com/terms-of-use/.


Introducing Velocity – TCV’s New Fund Targets Expansion-Stage Investments, Raises $460 Million

Menlo Park, New York, January 31, 2022 – We are delighted to start 2022 with the announcement of Velocity, a $460 million fund geared towards expansion-stage investment opportunities. After a momentous year in 2021 – resulting in 14 public listings, which include IPOs, direct listings, and SPAC transactions – TCV believes that Velocity will allow us to continue the firm’s history of partnering with leading companies from early investment rounds through IPO. We believe that Velocity is ideally placed to take advantage of a growing investment segment and will complement our parallel investment activity with ambitious tech companies at later stages of development.

Apply the insights of proven companies to ambitious growth companies

Velocity builds on our long history of success backing category leaders and is specifically designed to help founders of innovative companies as they shift from product-market fit to scaling up. With a dedicated team of investors, Velocity will draw on the resources and reach of the entire TCV platform to help ambitious expansion-stage companies achieve the next phase of growth.

TCV’s investment approach since day one has been our willingness to invest and reinvest through thick and thin, and across the company growth lifecycle, from early-stage funding to IPO and beyond. It also has been our steadfast belief that the strongest investment partners provide something far more valuable than assets alone. Since inception in 1995, TCV has backed category leaders across both B2B and B2C tech markets, executing 79 public listings and 69 M&As as of the end of 2021. 

The firm has $28 billion of assets under management as of September 30, 2021. We believe our high profile and strong performance are due to our thematic approach (including fintech, education, prop-tech media/entertainment, e-commerce, healthcare, vertical SaaS, and DevOps security); our success in identifying future category leaders; our end-to-end operating support/rolled-up-sleeves approach; and our patient investment style. We work with entrepreneurs over the long term as their capital partner and believe that we can support them with acquisition capital as well as secondary funding to IPO anchoring, post-IPO support, and beyond.

About Velocity

The Velocity fund is already off to a promising start with several portfolio investments, including BenchSci, a global leader in machine learning applications for novel medicine development, and Passport, a modern international shipping carrier built for e-commerce DTC brands and marketplaces. Our aim is for a concentrated portfolio with access to the full TCV platform across investments of Series A, B, C, and beyond. 

TCV Velocity features a dedicated team of investors and operators. It is headed by General Partners Matt Brennan and Gautam Gupta, who together bring a powerful blend of operating and investing experience. The Velocity investment team also includes three additional investors who have joined TCV in the past year from other leading venture growth firms.

Velocity investment themes

Although this list is by no means exhaustive, the Velocity team will be keeping a close eye on opportunities linked to the following high-growth sectors, which are already proven success themes for TCV:

  • E-commerce enablement
  • Tech disruption across health & wellness
  •  Democratization of financial services
  • Acceleration of AI/ML adoption
  • Supply chain digitization and optimization

Strategically timed for success

We believe the timing of our new Velocity fund has been well planned. With technology companies scaling faster and looking to expand earlier, we see what we believe to be a perfect opportunity to leverage our established platform to address the unique growth needs of younger/earlier-stage companies.

The Velocity fund intends to partner with TCV’s Growth funds to provide full lifecycle capital, generally from Series A through IPO. With Velocity, we’ll be taking our deep insights into what we believe makes a great company and applying them much earlier. TCV’s goal is to allow CEOs to think longer term and introduce them to TCV as a capital partner for the next decade, across all stages of their lifecycle, pre- and post-IPO.

A differentiated multi-stage investor

TCV’s “long view” and crossover approach, for which we are well known, is linked to our flexible approach that we intend, in turn, to tailor to the particular needs of each company and its early investors. TCV can lead or follow and has no minimum ownership requirements.

As well as investing across the lifecycle of a company, with both the Velocity fund and our Growth fund, our interests are no longer confined to a particular investment bracket: we generally write checks from $10M to $400M+. As such, TCV can support companies across a variety of requirements – from acquisition capital and secondary funding to IPO anchoring, post-IPO support, and beyond.

There are all kinds of new tech innovators out there that we believe are ideally placed to help; and in 2022, we look forward to joining them on their scale-up journey.

“TCV is using its vast experience of taking companies to IPO and beyond to help expansion-stage companies with equivalent ambitions. We’re enormously excited about the year ahead, as we formally bring to market this much anticipated new fund and engage with founders of companies that are rich with potential and aggressive ambition.”

– Matt Brennan, General Partner, TCV

“As our current portfolio CEOs will attest, we’re already active investors that partner with founders over the lifecycle of the company – from as early as a Series A all the way through an IPO and beyond. We have a 27-year track record of scaling what we believe to be iconic franchise companies (the likes of Airbnb, Alarm.com, EA, Netflix, Peloton, Spotify, and Zillow) and in many cases, we remain involved for the long term, seeing companies through multiple economic cycles.”

– Gautam Gupta, General Partner, TCV

“For more than a quarter of a century, TCV has invested in over 350 companies, including category leaders like Airbnb, EA, ExactTarget, Netflix, Spotify, Facebook, Alarm.com, Splunk, and Zillow. The experience of helping the founders of these companies scale their businesses into dominant public companies has given us the pattern recognition to help emerging companies earlier in their development cycle lay the foundation on the path to becoming future franchise names in the tech world. Our goal with the Velocity fund is to identify and support the next generation of category leaders on this journey.”

– Tim McAdam, General Partner, TCV

***

About TCV

The views and opinions expressed are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of TCMI, Inc. or its affiliates (“TCV”). TCV has not verified the accuracy of any statements by the speakers and disclaims any responsibility therefor. This blog post is not an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any private fund managed or sponsored by TCV or any of the securities of any company discussed. The TCV portfolio companies identified, if any, are not necessarily representative of all TCV investments, and no assumption should be made that the investments identified were or will be profitable. For a complete list of TCV investments, please visit www.tcv.com/all-companies/. For additional important disclaimers regarding this blog post, please see “Informational Purposes Only” in the Terms of Use for TCV’s website, available at http://www.tcv.com/terms-of-use/.


Building the Rocket Ship as You Pilot It: How Trulioo Navigated a New CEO, Global Expansion, and COVID During a Period of Hypergrowth

When Steve Munford joined leading digital identity verification provider Trulioo as the new CEO as the company expanded its global footprint, he knew to be mindful of common pitfalls like making quick decisions and sweeping changes without appreciating the historical context. Instead, he took time to analyze the business from top to bottom and build relationships with Trulioo’s co-founders Stephen Ufford and Tanis Jorge. Rather than slowing down his work at Trulioo, it helped Steve accelerate his impact, knowing that he wasn’t duplicating previously unsuccessful efforts or making decisions that would clash with the mission-driven corporate culture. By developing that framework with the founders and the company at large, he was able to ensure that he was building the company for the long-term without breaking all of the things that already worked.

Trulioo provides businesses with instant digital identity verification that support compliance requirements, mitigate risk, and reduce friction in the onboarding process. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, demand increased significantly alongside Trulioo’s customers’ digital initiatives. Trulioo had always planned to expand its services globally, but this hypergrowth needed a clear roadmap to be executed diligently. The company planned to scale multiple functions, while also opening offices and growing headcount across the globe. To help prioritize product and go-to-market strategies, Trulioo leaned into two key features: customer feedback and a truly global workforce. Customer feedback helped Trulioo look around corners to see which identity verification features and regulatory hurdles were becoming top of mind for its customers. By establishing a global workforce, the company was confident in knowing that they truly understood their customers’ needs – who were themselves increasingly global – as well as the nuances of the markets they were entering into.

In this episode of Growth Journeys, we discuss how Trulioo navigated hyper growth accelerated by digitization during COVID-19, while building out thoughtful global operations and go-to-market strategies built for the long haul. Steve explains why he prioritizes building trust with founding executives and expanding global offices. He also walks us through Trulioo’s mission driven culture, and how the company is executing on its goal to enable everyone on the planet to participate in a global, increasingly digital economy.

Key Takeaways:

  • How Steve navigated stepping into the CEO role at a company that was previously founder-led.

For CEOs joining companies that were previously founder-led, it can be extremely tempting to implement changes quickly in order to create impact. But Steve advocates a different approach and suggests that new executives instead spend that time analyzing what’s been working at the company, and what impact the founders had on that success to date. “You have to start by [asking yourself] ‘What is going to be missing when that founder steps aside from the business?’”

He advocates for taking as much time as possible to watch, learn, and digest, and understand why certain moves have been made, and others haven’t. Doing so allows a new outside CEO to truly understand the culture and nuances of an organization before making sweeping changes. He also suggests building a partnership with the founders, when possible, to build trust and open communication. “The goal is not to slow things down, but further accelerate them. You have got to make sure that when you step in, you’re not doing any harm, but setting both you and the company up to go even faster.”

  • The benefits of building a diverse workforce when expanding a company into new markets across the globe.

One of the first tasks Steve tackled at Trulioo was going to market globally, during a pandemic that had made operations go virtual. Until then, Trulioo had been headquartered in Vancouver, and it could have been simpler to continue with the same team at first. But each market operates differently, and nuances can vary wildly from country to country, which is why Trulioo continued its plan to create a diverse, global workforce. “If you’re going to have a global company…you need to have offices, locations, and workforces all around the world. You need to have a leadership team that is truly multicultural, diverse, and is able to motivate and understand the nuances of the culture,” says Steve.

Indeed, Steve suggests that leadership teams actively prioritize being diverse and cross-cultural as they scale. However, while having a global presence is critical for market presence, go-to-to-market strategies, and talent development as a company grows, for a tech company based outside of the US, having a strong presence in the US is also important.

  • Using customer feedback to understand new markets, prioritize product iteration, and drive growth.

While Trulioo had always planned to expand its identity verification services across the globe, the pandemic accelerated the demand for the company’s services. While there was no shortage of varying needs and priorities, Steve and his team used one criterion to really prioritize its hypergrowth strategy: customer feedback. Because Trulioo works with some of the largest companies across many verticals, their feedback was critical in helping Trulioo craft its product and go-to market roadmaps. “[Our customers] guide us to the countries that they want to move into next. They guide us on how they see the identity landscape changing, where fraud is coming from, or where the regulatory environment is going. Through that dialogue, we’re able to really help prioritize our roadmap, prioritize where we need to innovate, and prioritize areas that we should partner with,” says Steve.

  • How Trulioo’s mission of fostering global inclusion for everyone in the digital economy has helped guide the company’s culture, product, and growth journey.

Providing identity verification services and building a robust identity network is built on the company’s core mission to advance financial inclusion. Trulioo aims to enable everyone on the planet to participate in the global economy no matter where they are. That mission is engrained in how Trulioo creates services and products, even if someone isn’t a customer or employee of a company using Trulioo yet. By thinking about future users, Trulioo is able to think more long term and build products that enable even more people to access high value services online. Says Steve, “We are a mission driven company, and ultimately I think our customers appreciate that because when we go about helping them do their jobs, we’re coming at it from a place of purpose. I think that really comes through.”

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