From Entrepreneur to Investor and Back Again: A Founder’s Journey to Virtual Design Pioneer

Shanna Tellerman is a two-time Founder and CEO. Her current company, Modsy, is a virtual home interior design service that provides 3D photorealistic renderings of the home space, where all items within the design are 100% shoppable and users can purchase all in one place. In this Growth Journeys podcast, Shanna traces her evolution from math-loving fine arts major to entrepreneur by way of 3D technology and venture investing at Google. Tina Hoang-To, Executive Vice President at TCV, also has both CEO and venture experience, so this lively conversation is filled with lessons of:

  • Founding and leading businesses and raising capital
  • Building and scaling high-performing teams
  • Integrating technology and design
  • Succeeding as a working parent
  • Forging a successful partnership with investors

For all this and more, settle back and click play.

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Tina Hoang-To: Welcome everyone to Growth Journeys, a podcast series from TCV focused on lessons from entrepreneurs and founders in the TCV ecosystem. I’m Tina Hoang-To, Executive Vice President at TCV, and I’m here with Shanna Tellerman, Founder and CEO of Modsy, a leading virtual home interior design service. Shanna and I met five years ago, when I was CEO of Wedding Spot and she was a partner at Google Ventures. Then we traded sides. I re-joined TCV as an investor last year and reconnected with Shanna. Fast forward a few weeks later…TCV led the Series C in Modsy and I joined the board. Shanna, looking forward to having you today to share your story. Welcome to Growth Journeys.

Shanna Tellerman: Thank you. Excited to be here.

Tina Hoang-To: Shanna, let’s start from the beginning. You have a pretty unique journey from having a fine arts major at Carnegie Mellon to venture capitalist to CEO of Modsy. What changed for you in those early years to put you on an entrepreneurial path?

Shanna Tellerman: I definitely did not have any original intention of going into venture capital or even technology. I was a big fan of both art and math and science, and I was always looking for the place where these two things intersected. And I tried a bunch of ways that felt kind of superficial to me until during my time at Carnegie Mellon, I took this class called Building Virtual Worlds, which was very early days virtual reality. Crazy headsets. Low resolution. And that class was, for me, the changing point in my life. I figured out that you can combine all of these things into 3D and graphics and consumer experiences and pave the way to new ideas working on this interdisciplinary team. And for me, it was like, “Check, check, check.” It hit every box. I had so much fun. And it veered me from going through this path of selling art in New York to “I am on a path to starting companies, founding businesses, and working in technology.”

Tina Hoang-To: So your first company was Sim Ops. Tell me the story behind that.

Shanna Tellerman: I was in Carnegie Mellon in graduate school and I was working on a technology that I just couldn’t imagine leaving behind and taking a job. And that technology was game technology that was being used to train emergency responders. And we were working with emergency responders all over the country and actually all over the globe. I had a professor who recommended, “Why don’t you start a business around this?” And I thought, “Sure. Why not? How hard is that?” And there I was, three months later, and he gave us a $10,000 loan and I had set up my very first business. And we were taking the technology out of the university and essentially using it to train emergency responders.

Tina Hoang-To: And what were some of the toughest challenges you faced as a young, first-time CEO with Sim Ops?

Shanna Tellerman: I think I faced almost every challenge that you can face as a first-time founder. I joke but it’s kind of serious that I made every mistake you can make from the way you structure the company to the way you divide up your equity. And the good news was that you can make a lot of mistakes as long as you recover very quickly and learn from them. And so I made all kinds of mistakes. The biggest challenge that I faced as a young entrepreneur I think was having no credibility. I had never worked. I had no experience. I had gone to graduate school. And I both had no credibility plus no experience to say, “This is how things should be done.” And so for me, I think – rightly so – investors who were looking at my business said, “It’s interesting technology, but are you the right person to lead this company?” And I came into work every day being like, “Am I right person to lead this company? I don’t know.” And over the years building out that confidence for myself but also for investors was probably the hardest part of the journey.

Tina Hoang-To: So selling your company is a big decision. How did you know M&A was the right path for Sim Ops and yourself at that moment in time when you did sell the company?

Shanna Tellerman: Yeah. I mean, the moment of an exit is the moment of many, many, moments prior, right? And for me, the path of Sim Ops was a path of lots of learnings. I started out of graduate school. I didn’t plan to become an entrepreneur. And then we hit fundraising issues, technology and product fit challenges, me moving to the West Coast, and then the downturn. A massive recession hit, and we had to raise our Series A during that. And I probably pitched 60 to 70 investors and somehow did raise a Series A during this downturn when nobody else was getting funded. So there we were a year later and Autodesk had been a partner that we had been talking to for a long time, and they wanted to buy the company, and I was thinking about, “Do I go out and raise a Series B or do I take this path?” And for me, at that moment I was like, “I’m ready for the next chapter. And that was a very, very tough road. And this is a really great company to keep doing what we’re doing and to have it impact an even broader set of people.” So for me, that was the right moment but it was a tough choice.

Tina Hoang-To: You built Sim Ops and then you’re CEO of Modsy. In between, I’m sure you’ve built a lot of confidence in operations. Tell us a little bit about what you’ve learned along the way.

Shanna Tellerman: That’s a great question. I actually believe first that you learn the most by mistakes. So when you make a mistake and then you recover and you’re able to course-correct from that mistake, to me it’s the center of confidence, because now you’re not fearful when you’re making choices because you know that you’re going to make bad choices. But as long as you can quickly react and maneuver from those choices, you’re going to be okay. For me, that’s been one big piece at the center. The second most important part for me of building confidence has been learning to be really myself. I think that when you start a company especially if you’re really young and you don’t know what you’re doing you like to put on this pretense that, “I’m a manager. I’m a founder. I am somebody who can run a business.” And most people don’t feel that level of confidence. And ironically being completely transparent and vulnerable and sharing the things you do know and don’t know build a tremendous amount of trust with your employees and with your investors and with your partners. And you’re able to build on that confidence of “These are the things I actually do know. I know how to do them.” And then these ones I don’t and I’m okay with that. And people are going to give me feedback and I’m going to learn and I’m going to evolve. And then I get to be just myself.

Tina Hoang-To: What was your experience like once Sim Ops was acquired by Autodesk? How was that integration process? And I’m sure that’s a big transition to go from a really small team to such a large organization.

Shanna Tellerman: The experience for me going from acquisition to working at Autodesk was definitely a night-and-day difference. We were, at that point, a 12-person company and I went into Autodesk which was thousands of people, multiple offices, global company. I had never worked for a company and I had never had a manager before in my life. And so it was a transition at every single level of your work experience. There was nothing that was the same anymore. The experience for me though was amazing because, one, my first manager ever was actually an amazing manager, somebody I still turn to today for advice. And the company was just really full of incredibly intelligent, really humble people who were super-passionate about the same kinds of things I was passionate about — like 3D and graphics and this world of transformation into the cloud. And so the baseline of those things that were aligned between me and them made it this incredible adventure —  many acquisitions don’t go that way. But for me, I felt like I just got to absorb and I got to learn and I got to work with great people. It was incredible.

So, Tina, I know you also went through the experience of an exit. I’m so curious. It was probably a totally different experience for you. What was it like? What were your lessons learned?

Tina Hoang-To: I think very similar to you. I think at every point in time as a founder when you’re thinking about fundraising, you’re also thinking about the strategic options, right? It’s a tough decision. When you build your company it’s sort of your baby. So letting that go I think was really hard for me. And very similar to you I thought “Hey, I’ve built this, this far. There’s a new chapter that might be better partnered with someone else.” And I think that was the right choice, and I still believe it’s the right choice.

Shanna Tellerman: So, Tina, I know that we also have the same common path that was a little unusual, a little untraditional. You went from selling cars in college to becoming a CEO and then back to being an investor. Tell me a little bit about how that path unfolded.

Tina Hoang-To: Well, it’s a lot of lessons along the way. But since you mentioned my car selling days, one of the biggest things that I’ve learned throughout my career is that being good at sales is something that got me very far. And I think that’s important to everybody in their career. When I was CEO, I felt like every day I was playing a sales role. When recruiting talent, you’re selling your culture and your mission. And then when fundraising you’re selling the market opportunity and your growth trajectory. And now as an investor, I’m still not done pitching. I’m pitching myself as a board member. I’m pitching TCV’s brand, our domain expertise, and our track record. To bring it back to something that I think all the listeners can relate to, think about every annual review that you’ve had. You’re essentially pitching your impact to the team and your work product. So my biggest advice here is if you don’t feel like you’re good at selling, read some books. Go out there and do some online classes, because I think that’s definitely going to come in handy as you progress throughout your career.

So let’s talk about Modsy. What is Modsy for those listeners who are not familiar with the product?

Shanna Tellerman: So Modsy is an online interior design service where you get paired with a designer virtually, and then we use specialized visualization technology to basically reconstruct your room into a 3D model and design it so you can see how everything will look in your space and shop from real products, from real retailers. Everything integrated: You can check out and buy from Modsy.

Tina Hoang-To: How did you come up with the idea?

Shanna Tellerman: The story starts with myself. I am the Modsy customer. My husband and I moved into a home in San Francisco and we went through that process of, “It’s time to buy some furniture. It’s time to upgrade from our IKEA and hand-me-downs.” And we got stuck almost immediately. We were looking at an awkward space. And we had a sofa, but we couldn’t decide on the rug without deciding on the art. And we couldn’t decide on the layout of the space. And without being able to see what it would really look like and have design help to visualize and to come up with a plan we did nothing for a year-plus and our space was sad. And we came home to this kind of empty sad space. And for me, that led to this moment where I was looking at a catalog and I looked at it and I was like, “I wish I was having this experience looking at this beautiful image where everything is designed and looks great, and they’re all products I can really buy. I just wish it was in my own house.” And for me, that light bulb went off because I had this background in 3D and graphics and spent time at Autodesk. I knew what was coming and I knew that we could combine the ability to visualize your unique space, fully designed, with real furniture you could really buy, in a way that felt beautiful — like a catalog — but it was in your house. And we could combine that with the ability to have a designer at a very affordable rate, working with you to make the decisions. And that if I provided that to the average consumer who today has no access to design services without thousands and thousands of dollars, that we could open up a huge market opportunity.

So the moment I had that idea I couldn’t drop it. I went into work every day, and I was thinking about it, and prototyping it. And then fast forward a few months later, and I had left Google Ventures, where I was investing, and I was like, “I am starting Modsy.” And here we are, five years later.

Tina Hoang-To: I can attest to the value proposition since I was a customer of Modsy. You know this story, but you saved Nick and I’s life when we moved into our new place in San Francisco, and we went through the same thing. We tried out two interior designers. They came in, took a look at the space, gave us an estimate of three to four months before we can actually start buying furniture. And given I’m a very quick person to do everything, that just didn’t work for me. Like, what are going to do for four months without furniture in this wide-open space? So because of Modsy, we were actually able to buy all our furniture in three weeks and be able to settle into our new home.

Shanna Tellerman: It looks fantastic.

Tina Hoang-To: Thanks, Shanna. What is the technology behind Modsy and how’s it changed since you launched the company in 2015?

Shanna Tellerman: Technology is definitely at the center of Modsy. It’s at the center of the vision because the vision is about visualization and visualization technology powers that. So, there’s two parts to this. One is the photo-realistic 3D renderings. From day one, we knew we could enable that. But to enable that in a scalable and affordable way that would allow us to provide the service at a very low cost, we had to build our own proprietary tools and technology and we had to plug into a couple of systems that were all cloud-based so the whole thing could scale. And so that just took a lot of time. That one we had a pretty clear vision.

The second part of our technology is taking photos of somebody’s room and then reconstructing an accurate to-scale 3D model — ideally with as little measurements, or no measurements, as possible — and then coming out with that 3D model to be usable in the design process to be able to put the furniture in. And so it had to be accurate. It had to have floors and walls and windows. And then it had to be something that could render out photo-realistically. And nothing in the world existed to do that.

There was reconstruction technology as a concept and there are big cameras that do depth sensing that can measure and that can use laser scanners — but that doesn’t exist in the normal consumer’s pocket. So we were like, we need to take the normal phone in normal consumer’s pockets and we need to apply the things that are only possible in these really sophisticated cameras. And we had some guesses about how to do it, but nobody had ever done it. So fast forward to today. Several years of R&D and various approaches and a sort iterative approach to solving this problem one piece of the pipeline along the way, we now have patented technology. We have taken an approach that is unique to everybody in the world that is trying to solve this. We’re probably the furthest ahead. We’re about to release something even cooler in this space in the next couple of months. But it has been one of those things where you know what you’re trying to do at the end, but your R&D path uncovers new ways and new approaches continuously and along the way you have to adapt that plan.

Tina Hoang-To: I remember as I was using Modsy for the first time, the biggest value proposition for me is actually seeing things fit in my space. And that was very hard for us. I mean, I can walk around with a ruler and measure everything but being able to look at three different types of layouts for a sofa and how it’s arranged in the space and click a button to live-swap in each and every one of the sofas was just a tremendous value add for us. So thanks for building that.

Shanna Tellerman: Awesome.

Tina Hoang-To: So Modsy has been growing, raising the Series C, and nearly doubling its headcount in 2019. How have you navigated through the challenges of scaling a team so quickly?

Shanna Tellerman: It’s interesting. Not only are we scaling the team, we’ve also been transitioning the locations and roles of our team. So a lot has changed all in one year. I am not going to say this is easy. Any time you grow and you add a lot more people, your culture does change. But what I’m constantly telling our team is that the culture is what the people make it and that as we add new people, they both adopt pieces of our culture, and they bring new culture in. I’ve seen our culture, the core elements of our culture, where we lead with our heart and we believe in making magic for our customers and we believe in hard work — those have stayed. Those have always stayed true. But we’ve added all these new elements of our culture, like you can work anywhere, you can work remotely, you can work from home. We have a lot of customer-facing people who have a different view of the world and there’s a different set of things that they’re interested in when we give Monday morning updates, for example. So you need to adapt pieces of your business and pieces of your culture. You also need to hear the feedback from all the people who’ve joined. And simultaneously you constantly rethink the tools and the structures especially when things like the location of the people changes along the way.

Tina Hoang-To: Fundraising is often a big part of being CEO. I know that. If anybody tells you that fundraising is fun, they’re probably lying. What were you looking for when you were raising the Series C? And what was most important to you?

Shanna Tellerman: This one is easy. I was looking for Tina. In all seriousness, I really, really look for investors that are partners – true partners – and to be a true partner you have to be able to put yourselves in the shoes of each other once in a while. And I feel like my experience being on the investing side was helpful in that I can understand what an investor’s trying to get out of the relationship. I understand the dynamics of a partnership, I understand the growth rate, I understand the things that are exciting to an investor. Simultaneously as an entrepreneur it’s really, really helpful when your investor understands how hard it is to run a business, to build a business and that every day you’re in there and you’re slaving away and you’re making these hard decisions and hard choices and that there’s real work in that. And again, when you get those snapshots of a company once every couple of months it’s easy to not remember that there’s a lot of hard work that goes into it. And for me when I’ve ultimately talked to investors and had the opportunity to bring great people onto the board, it’s the people who just get it. They get that there’s a lot behind the scenes and that that’s always part of the conversation. And as we chatted, it was so clear that that was how you thought about the world and that’s always made it easy. It’s made the relationship easy.

Tina Hoang-To: I think on the flip side, one of the greatest things that you’ve given me is the opportunity to work with the team. Every time we’re launching new products, Sam, CTO, is sending me the test pilot launches, it gives me the opportunity to bring myself back to the days when I was an operator and launching new products. And that’s been really exciting to be a part of that journey with you.

Shanna Tellerman: Yeah. Actually, we feel that you have had a unique ability to put yourself in the shoes of our team and ask the questions or give the feedback in a way that feels like you are part of the team, not sort of passing by giving us side comments or sort of surface-level comments. It’s real feedback that we can really apply.

Tina Hoang-To: Shanna, you’re a CEO and founder but you’re also a mother. How has motherhood changed how you work and how you are as a leader?

Shanna Tellerman: So motherhood, for anybody who’s listening – as a mother or father, is hard work. There’s no question. It definitely started to divide my time. But I will say, it has been life-changing, game-changing. Not just for me personally, but for our business. The thing everybody says is true — which is, you get way more efficient with your time and you start canceling all those silly meetings and those lunches or dinners that didn’t really matter But for me, the best part of it was really I always have carried around the stress of my company. It doesn’t matter whether I’m going to dinner or a movie or on vacation, it’s a weight in life and I’m always thinking about it and nothing I could do would break me out of it. My first company, my second company, I could be in the most beautiful place in the world and I was still thinking about my new business. We were hiking in New Zealand and I’m thinking about my business. And I’m like, “This isn’t healthy,” but I can’t break out. But then I had a baby. And when I go home and see Skye it’s pure joy and the thoughts of our business melt away. And even if it’s only for a few minutes, there’s these few moments where I’m like, “This is actually more important than that.” And I never had that before, and it’s been transformative.

Tina Hoang-To: So I’ve been really fortunate to have great mentors in my career and I think this is a very important part of development as you progress. Who are some of the people in your life that have provided mentorship to you?

Shanna Tellerman: It’s such an important question. Definitely, I have had a series of mentors along the way from managers to advisors and people in my life, my husband. But for me actually even more fundamental to that was something I realized when I was an entrepreneur, but then realized more profoundly when I was an investor, was that there really wasn’t this same kind of network for women. And so I became really passionate about connecting women together who were founders, investors, and operators because that’s the ecosystem and just allowing us to build bridges and connections and relationships with no business purpose to start out — knowing that it would lead to great business results in the end. And so it started then when I was an investor and we started doing this annual trip to Park City and skiing, and it’s been just amazing to see this network grow and support each other. And all these women are people I know I can just get on the phone and I can ask a quick question. When I started my company they were my first calls — being like, “Will you invest in my seed round?” That is the network that ends up becoming such a powerful resource for me.

Tina Hoang-To: So we’re down to the last question which I think will be helpful for most listeners who are in your shoes. As a CEO and a former VC, what is one piece of advice for someone pitching to a VC firm that you wouldn’t have known if you hadn’t had that experience as a venture capitalist?

Shanna Tellerman: I get asked this question a lot. What did I take from being a VC and how do I apply it to being an entrepreneur? And especially in fundraising and pitching, what’s the secret sauce? For me, it’s actually my understanding that it is a partnership and that the partnership collectively makes a decision. So you might have a big champion who has brought you in and they’re super excited, and there might be a bunch of people at the table really excited. But there might also be some people who are not that excited about your business and that that is actually a pretty normal part of a partnership discussion after a pitch. And for me, that’s allowed me to take it way less personally — the pitch. It sounds funny but as an entrepreneur you feel like this is my baby, this is my company, people are giving me feedback they didn’t like me, they don’t like my business. But in reality, there’s this collection of people looking at your business with their collective history and experiences, and it is more common than not that some of the people sitting around that table have some concerns and have some reservations and bring it up. And then that discussion ensues, and it may be swayed one way or the other. And you are a minor part of that equation. At the end of the day, they’re making a collective partnership decision. And for me, that just took a lot of the emotion out of the fundraise.

Tina Hoang-To: That’s a great point. When I was going through a fundraising as well you get a lot of “no’s.” I think some people have biases towards certain industries or certain products, etc. But one of the greatest pieces of advice I was given was, it doesn’t matter how many “no’s” you get. You really only need one “yes.”

Shanna Tellerman: So true.

Tina Hoang-To: And I think that turned everything around for me, that it is okay to get turned down. Because if you look at the data and the stats, the chances are you’re probably not going to get a “yes” in your first try, so that’s really helpful advice.

Shanna Tellerman: Very true.

Tina Hoang-To: Shanna, these are really valuable lessons you’ve shared. Thank you so much for joining us on Growth Journeys, and thanks to all out there for listening.

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The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of TCMI, Inc. or its affiliates (“TCV”). TCV has not verified the accuracy of any statements by the authors and disclaims any responsibility therefor. This interview and 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 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 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/.


At the Cutting Edge of the Governance Risk and Compliance (GRC) Sector – Leveraging Compliance Data to Drive Business Value

By Nari Ansari and Gal Peleg

Compliance seems to divide enterprises into three categories: those that primarily publicize it as proof of “good governance,” those that actually push the boundaries far enough to bring consequences, and everyone else with their heads down, trying to address whatever regulatory standards govern their industry and the seemingly ever-changing nature of those standards.

Now a fourth group is emerging, charting their own course. These enterprises are turning compliance to their advantage by mining compliance data for digital gold: insights that increase efficiency and competitive advantage. Like the governance crowd, they have automated many compliance functions with emerging software solutions. They are looking at the resulting data with fresh eyes and using it to improve their businesses.

More Regulation…

Most people think of compliance in terms of rules and regulations imposed by lawmakers and other governing bodies, for good reason: there is a proliferation not just of new regulations but of whole new regulatory frameworks such as Dodd-Frank and GDPR. Even long-time frameworks such as SOX, HIPAA, and FCPA continue to evolve. Yet at the same time, many enterprises are setting rules of their own to address an increasingly complex environment that includes global supply chains, cybercrime, trade wars, Brexit, and other evolving risks.

In the end, it doesn’t matter where the rules come from: compliance, and the documentation that comes along with it, is essential for managing risks and maintaining brand reputation. The roster of damaged brands from just the past few years illustrates what can happen when risk and compliance management break down.

Until recently, enterprises managed compliance risks with home-grown, often siloed and disparate initiatives that focused on people and processes. The components included manual record-keeping, time-consuming audits, constant training, ever-lengthier supplier questionnaires, C-level compliance positions, and board-level reporting. The reams of information gathered and presented were considered useful mainly for answering a simple question: Are we compliant or not?

Then a new question arose: Can we at least automate and digitize risk and compliance data, like we have done with so many other processes? The answer to that question is clear: We can, thanks to a growing community of companies providing governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) technology solutions that automate the process of collecting, aggregating, analyzing, and presenting relevant data while reducing their costs to the organization.

…Meets Smarter Compliance

We believe that just as homegrown compliance structures created the opportunity for digitization, a critical mass of companies are now positioned for a new opportunity that may eclipse the earlier one. Data that was once viewed merely as fuel for the compliance machine can now be considered a strategic output in its own right, with value to the business beyond compliance.

Whether it’s a bank mining Know Your Customer data to pitch targeted travel insurance to its customers or a CPG manufacturer analyzing complaint data from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to improve its manufacturing methods, we see an opportunity for companies to extract incremental, “offensive” business insight from large risk, compliance, and regulatory data sets.

Why Now?

This opportunity represents a convergence of what may seem unrelated factors. But let’s remember that in a globalized, highly competitive economy there are few trends that arise in isolation.

The first trend we note is a dramatic change in the people sitting in the chief compliance officer (CCO) chair. Russell Reynolds Associates analyzed the career backgrounds of 72 CCOs in banking, insurance and asset management and reported that “gone are the days of principally legal and compliance executives nabbing the top job in the compliance function.” So who’s getting the job instead? According to the report, it’s “broader-focused appointees from consulting, risk and audit. This new breed of appointees would be well-positioned to contextualize compliance (and the associated cultural change) in the wider picture of the organization.” In other words, compliance executive leadership is not just for lawyers and specialists – it’s for multidisciplinary executives who are as fluent with brand value and enterprise risk as they are with the P&L and operations.

The second trend we note is increased use of AI/ML. The transportation sector is a leading example, in part because it is heavily regulated. Shipping companies, notably UPS, now place dozens of monitors on their vehicles for compliance with internal and regulatory rules – and then apply AI to the monitor data to optimize delivery routes and driver behaviors in ways that squeeze out fuel costs and improve customer satisfaction. Fleet operators are further served by solutions from the likes of Keep Truckin, Samsara, and Geotab, which help improve driver safety and increase the precision of preventive maintenance.

The third trend is the evolving consumer privacy landscape. Ironically, more robust data protection and security regulations such as GDPR can actually serve to enhance business value by increasing the trust between companies and their customers. In its January 2018 report, “How GDPR is an Opportunity to Create Business Value”, Gartner notes that “handled effectively, there is great potential to obtain consent to increase data access, use, and sharing rights — aligned with goals of a wider organizational data and analytics strategy. This can help drive competitive advantage, while also helping to achieve compliance in other countries and regions.”

Examples of Leveraging Risk & Compliance Data to Drive Business Value

These are examples of companies that are helping advance the use of risk and compliance data for improving everything from customer experiences to supply chain performance to more effective emergency response:

  • Avetta’s customers use Avetta to certify compliance quality of its suppliers (green flag, yellow flag, red flag) and then mine the data to identify which suppliers are best trained and best equipped for certain on-site jobs.
  • Higher education institutions have long collected data to achieve and maintain external accreditation. Watermark Insights helps universities and colleges not only collect, digitize, and report on that data to demonstrate effectiveness, but also to use it to inform curricular changes and improve student outcomes. 
  • AxiomSL’s financial services clients utilize its data integrity and control platform and its risk calculation and reporting solutions to satisfy regulatory requirements across the globe systematically.  With trusted data, banks are now also able to identify opportunities to fine-tune capital/credit risk and deliver compelling business insights across the enterprise.
  • Global Trade Management solutions from the likes of Descartes and Amber Road (now a part of E2OPEN) have long been used to satisfy mandatory export compliance obligations (e.g. restricted party screenings) and to remain abreast of regional duty programs and tariffs. But by marrying these regulatory datasets with companies’ more “traditional” supply chain data (such as bill of materials and transportation fees), clients are now able to more accurately forecast true landed costs (the total price of the shipment including customs, duties, taxes, tariffs, etc.), all the while minimizing risks and delays.
  • Rave Mobile Safety enables schools to automate collection of and access to critical facility information (e.g., floor plans, alarm information), which they need to remain compliant with fire department ordinances – and it also provide 911 dispatchers and first responders better real-time capabilities when emergencies arise.
  • Information governance and eDiscovery vendor Nuix is well known for its deep technical capabilities in high speed processing and analytics around vast data sets, typically in the context of litigation and investigations.  But enterprise clients are also able to leverage the platform to create “data lakes”, making data more accessible for re-use in future investigations, litigations and data management programs, helping reduce costs.
  • Biopharma companies rely on software from ETQ for much more than compliance with FDA requirements; they also leverage the data to mitigate and prevent high-risk events, scale operations more effectively, and streamline their go-to-market activities.

There are many other examples of organizations across industries utilizing technology from GRC vendors to not only achieve their risk and compliance objectives, but also advance their strategic objectives.  The trend is still very much in its early days, but it provides an exciting avenue for continued growth in the sector.  As an experienced technology focused growth equity firm, TCV is committed to investing in the category innovators in the GRC space and has invested in such companies as Avalara, AxiomSL, Avetta, LegalZoom, Rave Mobile Safety, RiskMetrics Group, and Watermark Insights. 

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The statements, 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 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, please see “Informational Purposes Only” in the Terms of Use for TCV’s website, available at http://www.tcv.com/terms-of-use/.


HireVue to Receive Growth Investment from New Majority Investor The Carlyle Group

SALT LAKE CITY, Sept. 3, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — HireVue, provider of the most comprehensive suite of AI-driven talent assessment and video interviewing solutions, today announced that global investment firm The Carlyle Group (NASDAQ: CG) has signed an agreement to invest in HireVue as its majority investor. Existing shareholders, including TCV, Granite Ventures and Sequoia, together with HireVue management, will remain minority investors.

Over its 15-year history, HireVue has transformed the way companies discover, hire and develop the most diverse set of top talent. HireVue customers, who include over one-third of the Fortune 100, generate strong returns on their investment by reducing the time it takes to hire a candidate by 90 percent on average, and by regularly achieving world-class candidate net promoter scores of more than 70, all while increasing the number of prospective candidates, hiring objectivity and the diversity of hires. HireVue pioneered the video interviewing industry and remains the leader today, delivering a million interviews and over 150,000 pre-hire assessments every 90 days.

“We are delighted to partner with Carlyle to accelerate HireVue’s technology innovation and propel our growth globally,” said Kevin Parker, Chairman and CEO at HireVue. “Carlyle’s culture of ‘performance through collaboration’ makes it our ideal partner as we expand to new markets and enhance our support of enterprise partners around the world.”

“HireVue is the recognized video interviewing and talent assessments leader,” said Patrick McCarter, Managing Director and Co-Head of TMT at The Carlyle Group. “Innovative global enterprises are driving more efficient and effective hiring through HireVue, accessing a broader, more diverse talent pool and significantly reducing bias.”

“We look forward to partnering with Kevin and the entire HireVue team to further accelerate the business and create even greater value for HireVue’s global employees, customers and partners,” said Tyler Parker, Vice President at The Carlyle Group.

“HireVue’s market-leading SaaS platform and suite of recruitment solutions assist global enterprises in finding, engaging and hiring the best talent,” said Nari Ansari, General Partner at TCV. “We are excited about the new partnership with Carlyle and HireVue’s next phase of growth.”

The current executive team at HireVue will continue to lead the company under the direction of Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Parker.

Equity capital for the investment will come from Carlyle Partners VII, an $18.5 billion fund. The Carlyle team leading the transaction focuses on investments in global technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) companies. TMT is a core area of focus for Carlyle, representing more than $30 billion of invested equity since inception. Goldman Sachs acted as exclusive financial advisor to HireVue.

HireVue’s Solutions

The HireVue Assessment and Video Interviewing Platform combine the power of video, AI, game and technical challenges for comprehensive hiring intelligence. Validated behavioral science is the foundation of HireVue’s highly effective pre-hire assessments, which are rigorously bias-tested according to the EEOC’s Uniform Guidelines and used to support greater diversity and efficiency in hiring. HireVue customers report lower attrition and high return on investment.

In addition, the HireVue Assessment and Video Interviewing Platform is the only platform in its industry that can scale to support the growth of enterprise customers. HireVue has achieved numerous industry and federal certifications, including:

  • ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certification
  • SOC 2 Type 2 assurance
  • FedRAMP authorization

For more information about HireVue or to schedule a demo, visit www.hirevue.com.

About HireVue

HireVue is transforming the way companies discover, hire and develop the best talent by combining the power of video, games and AI for better hiring decisions. The HireVue Assessments and Video Interviewing Platform uses a ground-breaking combination of industrial/organizational science and rigorously tested, predictive artificial intelligence to help customers find and engage higher quality talent, faster. HireVue is available worldwide in over 30 languages and has hosted more than ten million on-demand interviews and one million assessments. Its more than 700 customers worldwide include over one-third of the Fortune 100 and leading brands such as Unilever, Hilton, JP Morgan Chase, Delta Air Lines, Vodafone, Carnival Cruise Line, and Goldman Sachs. For more information, visit www.hirevue.com.

HireVue Social Networks

Twitter:www.twitter.com/HireVue
LinkedIn:www.linkedin.com/company/hirevue 
Facebook:www.facebook.com/HireVue 
YouTube:www.YouTube.com/user/HireVue
Instagram:www.instagram.com/hirevue/

About The Carlyle Group

The Carlyle Group (NASDAQ: CG) is a global investment firm with deep industry expertise that deploys private capital across four business segments: Corporate Private Equity, Real Assets, Global Credit and Investment Solutions. With $223 billion of assets under management as of June 30, 2019, Carlyle’s purpose is to invest wisely and create value on behalf of its investors, portfolio companies and the communities in which we live and invest. The Carlyle Group employs more than 1,775 people in 33 offices across six continents.


Perceptyx Announces Strategic Investment From TCV

TEMECULA, Calif., Aug. 12, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Perceptyx, the employee survey and people analytics platform that helps companies transform the way they leverage their people data to drive business success, today announced it has received a significant investment from TCV, one of the largest growth equity firms backing public and private technology companies. The investment and expertise from TCV will help fuel Perceptyx’s rapid growth through product innovations for current and future customers, positioning the company to build upon its market-leading people analytics platform. As part of this investment, Nari Ansari (General Partner, TCV) and Dave Eichler (Vice President, TCV) will join the Perceptyx Board of Directors.

Founded in 2003, Perceptyx provides deep insights into an organization’s people, giving leaders the data and insight they need to improve the employee experience, predict challenges in the business, and drive strategic action to deliver improved business performance.

This is an exciting moment in Perceptyx’s history. For over 16 years we have been on a mission to help people and organizations thrive, and the partnership with TCV is evidence of the value that our customers continue to derive from our platform,” said John Borland, CEO of Perceptyx. “TCV has a history of investing in category-redefining companies, and their partnership reaffirms our culture of innovation, off-the-charts customer retention, and the increasing demand for a more integrated approach to talent analytics in driving business strategy and operations.”  

Advancements in machine learning and the growing volume and availability of business and people data continue to fuel increased demand for deeper talent insights that enable Human Resources (HR) to be more strategic partners to the business. While the global Human Capital Management (HCM) market size is expected to reach US$22.6 billion by the end of 2025 (a 7.6% CAGR), the 2018-2019 Sierra-Cedar HR Systems Survey found that 41% of CHROs plan to increase spending on Talent Analytics in particular, further indicating that the Talent Analytics market is heating up.

Perceptyx’s history of building a best-in-class product as well as their strong customer focus has the team well positioned to capitalize on the enormous and growing opportunity within the HCM space. We are very excited to partner with the Perceptyx team to help them reach their full potential,” said Dave Eichler, Vice President at TCV.

Since TCV’s inception in 1995, the firm has raised over $15 billion across ten funds and invested over $12 billion in leading technology companies. TCV investments include notable franchises such as Netflix, Facebook, Expedia, Spotify, Airbnb, Peloton, Splunk, and Zillow – and they have partnered with leading cloud / SaaS software companies, such as Avalara, ExactTarget, Alarm.com, HireVue, GoDaddy, Twilio, Toast, Webroot, and Xero.

TCV partners with companies we believe are leaders within their market vertical,” said Nari Ansari, General Partner at TCV. “We have been watching Perceptyx closely for quite some time and have been impressed with their consistent growth and amazing track record within the Fortune 1000. We look forward to supporting the team as they embark on their next phase of growth.”

The investment from TCV is particularly significant for Perceptyx in that it represents the first external investment since its founding in 2003. Entirely self-funded and profitable from its inception, Perceptyx has fueled its own growth through a relentless focus on product innovation and client satisfaction, achieving greater than 95% client retention. As the people analytics provider to over 30% of the Fortune 100, experiencing accelerated growth, Perceptyx is poised to further its growth and expansion through the partnership.  

For more information about Perceptyx, visit http://www.perceptyx.com.

About Perceptyx
Since its founding in 2003, Perceptyx has been revolutionizing the employee survey and people analytics industry, delivering enterprise-level employee surveys and people analytics to more than 30% of the Fortune 100. With an unrivaled technology platform and a tailor-made, flexible approach, the Perceptyx technology makes it easy for managers and HR or business leaders to discover insights deep within large and complex organizations, driving meaningful action to improve business outcomes. Driven by a deep intellectual curiosity and culture of innovation, Perceptyx is challenging the status quo – to help people and organizations thrive.

About TCV
Founded in 1995, TCV provides capital to growth-stage private and public companies in the technology industry. TCV has invested over $12 billion in leading technology companies and has helped guide CEOs through more than 120 IPOs and strategic acquisitions. TCV’s software investments include Alarm.com, Altiris, Ariba, Avalara, Avetta, AxiomSL, CCC Information Services, ExactTarget, ETQ, FinancialForce, Genesys, IQMS, OSIsoft, Rapid7, Rave Mobile Safety, Sitecore, SMT, Splunk, Toast, Vectra AI, and more. TCV is headquartered in Menlo Park, California, with offices in New York and London. For more information about TCV, including a complete list of TCV investments, please visit http://www.tcv.com.

SOURCE: Perceptyx, Inc.

Media Contacts:

Perceptyx
Daniel Norwood
Phone: 951.526.2422
dnorwood@perceptyx.com

TCV
Katja Gagen
Phone: 415.690.6689
kgagen@tcv.com


The Rise of Augmented Marketing: Q&A with Michelle Peluso

Michelle Peluso has spent the past two decades helping to forge a new relationship between people and technology. She started her first company, Site59, with a group of friends in 1999 and later sold it to Travelocity, where she served as CEO during the “roaming gnome” era. Peluso became an Executive Advisor to TCV before joining Citibank as Global Consumer Chief Marketing and Internet Officer responsible for the digital experience of the bank’s 100 million global customers. Peluso then took the helm at fashion pioneer Gilt, which she later sold to Hudson’s Bay Company. She became IBM’s first Chief Marketing Officer in 2016 — a move that highlights the transformation of marketing into a core corporate capability.

Still an Executive Advisor to TCV, Peluso remains committed to discovering how marketing can redefine relationships with customers, a transformation that requires curiosity, agility, innovation, persistence, and resilience. In this exclusive interview, Peluso discusses:

  • How the CMO’s role has changed in the last decade
  • Four trends that continue to revolutionize marketing
  • How the rise of ‘augmented marketing’ will challenge CMOs as never before

TCV: It’s widely acknowledged that there has never been a more challenging time to be a CMO. How have you seen the role change since you founded Site59 in 1999?

Peluso: It’s no wonder the average CMO tenure is only 2–3 years and has seen a drop over the past two decades. It’s a hard and incredibly dynamic role, as marketing has shifted from a thoughtful, functional discipline around creatively amplifying the company message to a much more dynamic, real-time, analytical  —  and creative  —  driver of client experience, revenue, and company performance. Expectations have never been higher for marketers, and the new seat they have at the table is an amazing opportunity for the best of them to grow and lead.

TCV: It’s easy to say all these changes have been driven by the rise of the internet. But there are several distinct trends that are reshaping marketing…

Peluso: Clearly four major shifts have shaped, and are shaping, how we can connect with customers, how we can analyze our effectiveness and drive results, and how we need to lead our respective organizations. First was the era of digital. For me, this was the beginning of the internet, making transactions and content interactive, convenient, and more personal. Then, we entered the era of social, which has been all about engagement and authenticity. Social toppled the notion of hierarchy and forced brands to think differently. Third, we have seen the era of mobile, which began with mastering the art of a smaller screen but evolved into much more as the focus has been about location and real-time and always-on engagement. These three eras have dramatically reshaped every industry while elevating the role of the individual, with far-reaching consequences.

TCV: That’s three…

Peluso: Right. We are now on the cusp of the era of cognitive learning, or as we call it at IBM: Augmented Intelligence (AI). We’re building fast and smart systems that understand vast amounts of unstructured information, such as natural language and imagery, recognize data patterns to create recommendations, continuously learn from these recommendations and many other sources of data, such as books, medical records, and conversations with humans and finally, interact with humans in a natural way. AI lets us better understand and engage with our customers; it enables us to make more precise bids on advertising and improve ROI across every dollar spent, and it will fundamentally shift the paradigm of how consumers interact with websites. Arguably, we are already starting to see this with new AI home devices and natural language interaction.

TCV: This new vision will require an entirely new way of doing things, which is a significant change for any company, much less for a massive organization like IBM. How does a CMO drive these kinds of changes within such an established framework?

Peluso: The cognitive change is no different than any other large-scale change management program. To be a cognitive company, you need to be clear about your mission  —  what challenges do you want to solve? What decisions do you most want to improve? You need to have the assets, which are all about your data sets but, even more, your team, marketers, developers, and data scientists. And, of course, you need the right tools. Companies new to AI should identify a handful of specific problems they want to address and apply AI tools to solving those problems. Then, repeat the process to address new challenges. This way, a corporation will see meaningful and measurable results as they evolve into a cognitive company. Patience is required. Companies must learn how to use AI, and these systems also require learning, so “training” the system is critical. It’s a classic crawl, walk, run.

TCV: How does this new approach to marketing change the way you look for and hire the right talent for ‘augmented marketing’?

The traditional marketing waterfall process  —  develop a creative idea, send it to advertising, media, and a CRM team, and then analyze results  —  can no longer keep up with the pace of the market today. I take a lot of inspiration from the Agile movement, which fundamentally reinvented the technology development process. At IBM, we’re applying Agile to our marketing function, and that means creating small empowered teams with the right skills, clear accountability, sprints, and a constant focus on prioritization. When you adopt Agile, you can see how different marketing becomes, and the emphasis it puts on hiring Agile teams that have a strong mix of creative, process, digital, and data science skills.

TCV: What role will marketers have in identifying and developing new technologies for the augmented marketing era? Or will that function remain within the realm of the IT department?

Peluso: AI is about man (or woman) AND machine. Users of all sorts, not just developers or CIOs, can use AI in small and big ways to help them solve the most difficult problems. That’s the promise, and we’re starting to see this at organizations all over the world. Marketers will play a critical role in how AI is developed and applied. One of the many things I learned while working with the TCV team and their companies is that it’s fundamentally important to be insatiably curious about technology because the most successful marketers are as analytically rigorous as they are creative.

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The views and opinions expressed in this Q&A are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of TCV or its personnel. Executive Advisors are typically independent consultants who are not employees of TCV but have a strategic relationship with TCV and/or provide valuable advice or services to TCV and/or its portfolio companies. For additional important information regarding this post, please see “Informational Purposes Only” under the Terms of Use section of TCV’s website, available at http://www.tcv.com/terms-of-use/.