Trulioo, the leader in global identity verification, announced today it has completed a $394M Series D round at a $1.75B valuation. The Series D round was led by TCV, one of the world’s largest growth equity firms, with participation from existing investors Amex Ventures, Citi Ventures, Blumberg Capital and Mouro Capital. TCV General Partner, Jake Reynolds, and Principal Amol Helekar will join Trulioo’s Board of Directors.
Trulioo is the premier global identity network enabling companies to reliably onboard customers in a digital-first world. For Trulioo’s customers, this speeds international expansion, mitigates fraud risk and ensures regulatory compliance. With digital transformation accelerating, the U.S. digital identity market alone is projected to increase to over $30B by 2023, according to industry consultants at One World Identity. This has led to skyrocketing demand for the services provided by digital identity verification companies. Leveraging its vast global reach and fast, accurate identity verification technology, Trulioo has demonstrated strong momentum and captured an increasing share of this market. Over the past year alone, Trulioo has expanded into new verticals, grown its leadership team and established a presence in Dublin, Austin and San Diego.
“The shift to online has brought digital identity to the forefront,” says Steve Munford, Trulioo President and CEO. “This new round of funding will enable us to accelerate our goal to become an end-to-end identity platform. Our vision is to break down fragmented data silos caused by disparate identity networks, and we will work in partnership with TCV to expand our investments in product innovation, build out artificial intelligence/machine learning capabilities and accelerate our global go-to-market strategy.”
“We’re thrilled to lead Trulioo’s landmark investment to help further their goal of building an end-to-end identity platform,” says Reynolds.
Adds Amol Helekar, “Many of the world’s fastest-growing fintechs, financial services companies, online marketplaces, and ecommerce leaders already rely on Trulioo. They demonstrate the way forward for the huge number of businesses whose digital strategies increasingly depend on accurate, fast and global identity verification.”
TCV backs companies at the forefront of digital transformation across industries and it has a deep understanding of the identity verification space. Its extensive investment portfolio includes technology franchises such as Airbnb, AxiomSL, Brex, ByteDance, Clio, Facebook, Klarna, Netflix, Nubank, OneTrust, Payoneer, Revolut, Spotify, Wealthsimple, WorldRemit, and Zillow.
About Trulioo Trulioo is the leading global identity verification company, building trust online so that businesses and consumers can transact safely and securely. Trulioo’s platform provides real-time verification of 5 billion consumers and 330 million business entities worldwide — all through a single API integration. Organizations rely on Trulioo’s identity verification solution, GlobalGateway, to help meet their business and compliance requirements and automate due diligence and fraud prevention workflows. Trulioo’s mission is to help provide every person on the planet with a digital identity to enable access to basic financial services and support. For more information, visit trulioo.com.
About TCV Founded in 1995, TCV was established with a clear vision: to capture opportunities in the technology market through a specialized and consistent focus on investing in high-growth companies. Since inception, the firm has built a track record of successfully backing private and public businesses that have developed into dominant industry players across internet, software, FinTech, and enterprise IT. TCV has invested over $14 billion to date and has helped guide CEOs through more than 125 IPOs and strategic acquisitions. TCV has successfully executed over 350 investments of varying structures, including mid-stage, late stage and public company investments, and has offices in Menlo Park, New York, and London. For more information about TCV, including a complete list of TCV investments, visit tcv.com.
Amsterdam, March 30, 2021 – Hotmart Company, a leading global cloud-based platform that empowers creators to build, run, manage, and grow their digital businesses, announced today that it has raised US$130 million in a Series C funding round led by TCV. Alkeon Capital also participated in the round. Valuation has not been disclosed, but Hotmart continues to build on its previously secured unicorn status. The proceeds from this round will be used for growth initiatives including product innovation and international expansion, both organically and through mergers and acquisitions.
This financing comes as Hotmart continues to experience significant growth and advances in its international expansion strategy. Today Hotmart has active creators in over 100 countries, powering transactions of digital products and services to millions of consumers in more than 185 countries. In 2020, Hotmart entered into a business combination with Teachable, a New York-based company that is one of the category leaders in the U.S. The combined gross merchandise value (GMV) transacted on the platform more than doubled compared to the previous year.
“Hotmart is at the forefront of the passion economy, helping creators go beyond content monetization and actually building an online business. By providing the tools for creators to leverage their knowledge, we are fueling a new model of internet-powered entrepreneurship”, says João Pedro Resende, CEO and co-founder of Hotmart.
“We are pleased with the contribution from our existing shareholders, including Koolen & Partners, General Atlantic, GIC and Accomplice. Since our beginning, we have had the opportunity of drawing from the experience and business support of global long-term partners, and this transaction with TCV further strengthens our shareholder base”, continues João Pedro Resende. “TCV has supported technology companies that are leaders in their sectors, such as Netflix, Spotify, Airbnb, Facebook and Linkedin. We are excited to welcome the new shareholders and to learn from their experience to continue growing our business.”
“As one of the largest digital enablement platforms, Hotmart is mission-critical for creators around the world to thrive by doing what they love and sharing their knowledge with consumers,” said Neil Tolaney, General Partner at TCV. “We are absolutely thrilled to work with JP and team to best empower entrepreneurs globally to accomplish their dreams.”
About Hotmart Company Hotmart is one of the world’s leading digital enablement platforms with a diverse and fast-growing ecosystem of creators and consumers. Its all-in-one, cloud-based technology platform integrates the features and functionalities that creators of all sizes need to build, run, manage, and grow their digital businesses. Founded by João Pedro Resende and Mateus Bicalho in 2011, the company has around 1,300 employees in 12 offices around the world (Netherlands, U.S., Brazil, Spain, Mexico, Colombia and France), and many open positions available – especially in Product, Development, and Growth areas. If you want to learn more about Hotmart, and our exciting career opportunities, visit www.hotmart.com.
About TCV Founded in 1995, TCV provides capital to growth-stage private and public companies in the technology industry. Since its inception, TCV has invested over $14 billion in leading technology companies and has helped guide CEOs through more than 125 IPOs and strategic acquisitions. TCV investments include Airbnb, Believe Digital, Dollar Shave Club, EA, Expedia, Facebook, LegalZoom, Netflix, Peloton, Spotify, Zillow, and more. In addition, TCV has made significant investments in financial technology and payments companies throughout the world, including Klarna, Mambu, Mollie, Nubank, Payoneer, Revolut, Toast, Wealthsimple and WorldRemit. 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, visit https://www.tcv.com/.
Media Contacts: Hotmart – Mariana Rosa – email@example.com TCV – Katja Gagen – firstname.lastname@example.org
MENLO PARK, CA, January 27, 2021 – We are excited to announce the closing of TCV XI, our largest fund to date at $4 billion. With the new fund, we strive to accelerate TCV’s strong momentum and capture the vast opportunities presented by digital transformation and rapid technology adoption. This will continue our long history of partnering with exceptional founders and CEOs to build iconic technology franchises redefining their industries.
TCV turned 25 in 2020. Since 1995, we have invested more than $14 billion in over 350 growth stage technology companies. We lived up to our middle name, “crossover”, by supporting our portfolio companies throughout their entire lifecycle as private and public companies.
Over a quarter century, Netflix has gone from an outrageous idea to one of the world’s leading entertainment companies — and TCV has supported us every step of the way. I’m so grateful for the enduring partnership, which includes Jay Hoag’s wisdom and guidance as our lead independent director.”
Reed Hastings, Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Netflix Inc.
The pandemic accelerated innovation in many of TCV’s key areas of sector specialization, including SaaS, edtech, remote collaboration, fitness, media/entertainment, touchless commerce, and digital banking. In 2020 we made big bets in companies aligned with secular technology trends across fintech (Klarna, Mambu, Mollie, Revolut, Wealthsimple), digital health and fitness (Strava), e-commerce enablement (Spryker) and SaaS (OneTrust, Oversight, Redis Labs).
We specifically sought out TCV in our last private fundraise. They are the best late-stage growth capital partner and have proven this discernibly and tangibly to us while we were private, while they increased their stake via a large IPO purchase, and on an ongoing basis. Their knowledge of and experience with digital media, global technology platforms and subscription businesses, stemming from their long-term involvement with leading franchises such as Netflix, Spotify, Dollar Shave Club, and many more continues to help us in immeasurable ways as we push to become the global digital fitness winner.”
John Foley, Founder and CEO of Peloton
Our experience enabled us to decisively guide our portfolio companies through a historic year of uncertainty and opportunity and help them grow and thrive. In spite of unprecedented global challenges, TCV’s portfolio enjoyed IPOs and was proactively sought after by strategic acquirers. Airbnb went public, and the sales of AxiomSL, Genesys, Cradlepoint, and Silver Peak represented major liquidity events.
We embark upon TCV XI with over 100 people across offices in Silicon Valley, New York, and London. Through several strategic hires, we deepened our domain expertise in addition to making investments in the technology hubs of Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America. TCV’s investments beyond North America today exceed $4 billion.
Looking ahead, we continue to help our companies reach the mountain top, knowing that the path will never be a straight line. We remain dedicated to supporting management teams on their journey to become market leaders that provide their customers with a tremendous value proposition.
We are humbled by the ongoing support of new and returning investors, which enabled us to raise a record sized fund. Just as importantly, we are honored by all the great entrepreneurs we have worked with over the past 25 years, as their vision and relentless execution has been our foundation. We look forward to backing entrepreneurs with our new fund that we believe will become the next generation of iconic companies, in this incredibly fertile technology industry.
Jay Hoag, a Founding General Partner at TCV
We are excited about the year ahead and the decades to follow.
The General Partners of TCV
More than ever, enterprise data is distributed, siloed, and increasing in volume. In order for companies of every industry to maximize and leverage the power of this data, Redis Labs is delivering a real-time data platform that allows them to manage, process, analyze, and make predictions, that will improve their customer experiences and drive their business forward.
“This investment will enable us to meet the surge in demand from companies representing every market and geography, to scale their Redis deployments and to help them win in the data-driven economy,” said Ofer Bengal, Co-Founder and CEO at Redis Labs. “The unprecedented conditions brought on by COVID-19 have accelerated business investments in building applications that require real-time, intelligent data processing in the cloud. During this time, Redis has become even more critical to our customers, partners, and community. We will continue to invest in strengthening our community footprint, advancing the Redis technology, and helping our users to do more with Redis.”
“Redis has become the ideal database for companies to operate intelligently and win in the current economy,” said Enrique Salem, Partner at Bain Capital Ventures. “We’ve long believed in the market opportunity for a high-performance database in the cloud-era and Redis’ potential to lead this category. Since our initial Series A investment, the Redis team has done a remarkable job making Redis an essential tool for developers and being a trusted partner for global enterprises operating at scale. We’re thrilled to continue partnering to build a multi-billion dollar database company.”
“We, at TCV, are delighted to partner with Ofer, Yiftach, and the team at Redis Labs in their effort to revolutionize the high-performance database industry,” said Gopi Vaddi, General Partner at TCV. “The product leadership demonstrated by Redis Enterprise in low latency, distributed, and high availability use cases is particularly remarkable. We believe that applications demanding Redis Enterprise’s market-leading capabilities will continue to multiply in an increasingly real-time world.”
Redis Labs currently has more than 7,500 customers, including MasterCard, Dell, Fiserv, Home Depot, Microsoft, Costco, Gap, and Groupon. With this funding, Redis Labs will continue to grow the global Redis community, expand its go-to-market team and programs, and invest in the product and support services to deliver even more value for customers. In calendar 2020 Redis Labs has seen tremendous momentum to-date, including:
Signed a strategic alliance agreement with Microsoft Azure for making Redis Enterprise the top tier of Azure Cache for Redis, and launched it in Private Preview. Public Preview is expected in early fall.
Following the availability of Redis Enterprise Cloud as a native service on Google Cloud in October 2019, the service has experienced over 300% growth in just two quarters.
Achieved Advanced Technology Partner status with Amazon Web Services Partner Network.
Launched RedisAI, for inferencing artificial intelligence requests at the speed of Redis, and RedisGears, a programmable engine enabling data-processing options at milliseconds speed across any distributed Redis deployment.
Announced RedisRaft, which brings strong consistency to Redis, making it suitable to serve the most critical business applications on earth.
Named “Most Loved Database” for a fourth consecutive year in Stack Overflow’s annual global developer survey.
About Redis Labs
Data is the lifeline of every business, and Redis Labs helps organizations reimagine how quickly they can process, analyze, make predictions with, and take action on the data they generate. As the home of Redis, the most popular open source database, we provide a competitive edge to global businesses with Redis Enterprise, which delivers superior performance, unmatched reliability, and the best total cost of ownership. Redis Enterprise allows teams to build performance, scalability, security, and growth into their applications. Designed for the cloud-native world, Redis Enterprise uniquely unifies data across hybrid, multi-cloud, and global applications, to maximize your business potential.
At GoFundMe, 2020 started with the celebration of a new chapter, a ten-year milestone, and the welcoming of new CEO Tim Cadogan. When the coronavirus pandemic began to spread globally, Cadogan, then in his first week as CEO, acted decisively to safeguard employees by implementing work from home and galvanized the team to quickly innovate to support the GoFundMe community in its mission of inspiring hope and changing lives through giving. In this wide-ranging discussion, Cadogan and TCV General Partner Woody Marshall, a GoFundMe board member, discuss:
How GoFundMe’s global community has responded to the coronavirus pandemic and how the company has adapted to meet the surge of activity
How GoFundMe seeks to create a seamless fundraising experience by balancing efficiency and safety
How to learn a global business from top to bottom, build relationships, and earn trust – remotely – in a short period of time
Essential qualities of culture for mission-driven companies
The importance of honest and open communication within a company, with a board, and with a community
For all this and much more, settle back and press play.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
Revolut raises $500
million in Series D funding, valuing the business at $5.5 billion, making Revolut
one of the highest valued fintech companies in the world
The round was led by
US-based investor TCV, with a number of existing investors also participating
in the round
Revolut will use the
capital to further strengthen product development in existing markets, roll-out
banking operations in Europe and increase daily engagement
LONDON, 25 February 2020 — Revolut, the global financial platform with over 10 million customers worldwide, has today raised an additional $500 million in Series D funding, taking the total amount raised by the company to $836 million.
funding round was led by US-based growth capital firm TCV, with a number of
existing investors also participating. The latest funding round values the
business at $5.5 billion, making Revolut one of the highest valued fintech
companies in the world.
capital was secured on the back of high customer demand and engagement and a
strong financial performance last year. In 2019, Revolut increased customer
growth by 169%, the number of daily active customers by 380%, and saw financial
revenues in 2018 grow by 354%.
capital will be focused on the customer experience and used to strengthen
Revolut’s core retail and business offering in existing markets, with a
particular focus on product development that will help accelerate daily usage
of accounts. Future plans include lending services for retail and business
customers, extending high interest savings accounts beyond the UK, further
improving customer service and rolling out banking operations across
also focus on further developing its Premium and Metal subscription accounts,
which have proven to be a successful revenue stream for the business, growing
by 154% last year. Revolut’s Premium and Metal accounts include a variety of
benefits for customers, such as unlimited foreign exchange, airport lounge
access, commission-free stock trading and travel insurance.
continue to invest in expanding its workforce across multiple locations. The
company now employs over 2,000 people, and last year made a number of senior
appointments across the business in order to scale up its governance. Last
year, Revolut appointed Martin Gilbert, the former Co-Chief Executive of
Standard Life Aberdeen, as Chairman of the Board. Caroline Britton, a former
Audit Partner at Deloitte, and Bruce Wallace, the former Chief Operations
Officer at Silicon Valley Bank, were both appointed as Non-Executive
on the new investment, Nik Storonsky, Founder & CEO at Revolut said: “We’re
on a mission to build a global financial platform – a single app where our
customers can manage all of their daily finances, and this investment
demonstrates investor confidence in our business model. Going forward, our
focus is on rolling-out banking operations in Europe, increasing the number of
people who use Revolut as their daily account, and striving towards
profitability. TCV has a long history of backing founders who are changing
their industries on a global scale, so we are excited to partner with them as
we prepare for the next stage of our journey.”
on the investment, John Doran, General Partner at TCV said: “We are delighted
to partner with Nik, Vlad and the entire Revolut team. Using a modern
technology stack and with a relentless focus on delighting customers, Revolut
has built a truly exceptional customer experience that is exceeding anything
that existing banks can offer. We look forward to supporting the team on their
journey to build Revolut into one of the biggest financial services companies
in the world.”
on the investment, John Glen MP, the UK Economic Secretary and City Minister
said: “It is clear that the UK fintech sector continues to thrive, and
Revolut’s announcement, which comes on the back of record-breaking fintech
venture capital investment in 2019, is a clear indicator of our strength as a
place for fintech business as we leave the EU.”
— END —
here to transform the way money works. As an innovative, new kind of
financial platform, it gives people the power to spend, invest and transfer
money without the sky-high fees charged by the big banks.
launching in 2015 in the UK, Revolut has expanded significantly beyond its
origins as an FX product, adding new features all the time, including
Commission-Free Stock Trading, Cryptocurrencies, Business Accounts and
in London, with 2,000 people in 23 offices, Revolut is now one of the biggest
Fintech communities in the world, with over 10 million customers globally.
Since launch, Revolut has processed over 1bn transactions worth over $130bn.
Revolut Press Contact Chad West, Director, Global Communications email@example.com l +447860651737
1995, TCV provides capital to growth-stage private and public companies in the
technology industry. Since its inception, TCV has invested over $13 billion in
leading technology companies, including more than $1.5 billion in fintech, and
has helped guide CEOs through more than 120 IPOs and strategic acquisitions.
investments include Airbnb, AxiomSL, Dollar Shave Club, ExactTarget, Expedia,
Facebook, LinkedIn, Netflix, Nubank, Payoneer, Splunk, Spotify, Toast,
WorldRemit, Xero, and Zillow. In Europe, TCV has invested $2 billion in
companies including Believe Digital, Brillen.de,
Perfecto, FlixMobility, RELEX Solutions, RMS, Sportradar, The Pracuj Group, and
WorldRemit. 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, visit https://www.tcv.com/.
OSTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Toast, the fastest-growing restaurant management platform in the U.S., today announced a $400M Series F funding round led by Bessemer Venture Partners, TPG, Greenoaks Capital, and Tiger Global Management with participation from Durable Capital Partners LP, TCV, funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, G Squared, Light Street Capital, Alta Park Capital, and others.
Focused on empowering restaurants of all sizes to compete on a level playing field with global brands, Toast has quickly become the go-to partner for the restaurant industry, from entrepreneurs opening their first restaurant to enterprise brands scaling across hundreds of locations. During the course of 2019, revenue increased 109 percent as tens of thousands of new restaurants joined the Toast community.
“As a result of our tremendous growth and commitment to the restaurant industry, we have continued to see a significant amount of demand from the investor community,” said Chris Comparato, CEO at Toast. “As the clear platform leader in the restaurant space, we are excited to use this investment to extend our capabilities and drive a bigger impact for the restaurant industry.”
Toast will invest proceeds from this fundraise into its technology platform to meet the evolving needs of the restaurant industry including:
New products designed to both deepen restaurateurs’ connections with guests and increase restaurant revenue;
Hardware and software investments to increase speed of service, streamline the guest experience, and reduce operational costs;
Capabilities to improve the restaurant employee experience, reduce employee turnover, and address the industry’s pressing labor challenges; and,
Financial products that provide quick and reliable access to funding to help restaurateurs grow their businesses.
“Just as the retail industry weathered disruption from e-commerce over the past two decades, restaurateurs now face shifting consumer expectations and a changing landscape of tech players who threaten to erode restaurant brands,” said Kent Bennett, partner at Bessemer Venture Partners. “Toast wants to partner with the restaurant community to level the playing field and strengthen this nearly trillion dollar industry. We’re thrilled to continue to support this incredible team in 2020 and beyond.”
Restaurant owners and operators can learn more about Toast and schedule a personalized demo here.
About Toast Launched in 2013, Toast is democratizing technology for restaurants of all sizes. Built exclusively for restaurants and driven by a passion to enable their success, Toast connects employees, operations, and guests on an easy-to-use platform so restaurateurs can stay one step ahead of a rapidly evolving hospitality market. Tens of thousands of restaurants partner with Toast to increase revenue, streamline operations, retain great employees, and create raving fans. Toast was named to the 2019 Forbes Fintech 50, 2019 SXSW Interactive Innovation Finals, and 2019 Forbes Cloud 100. Learn more at www.pos.toasttab.com.
members can bring a wealth of experience and advice to their CEOs – and not
just when the board convenes each quarter. The chemistry of this critical
relationship requires careful attention, particularly when selecting and
onboarding new directors, coaching the team and providing diverse insights. Tayloe
Stansbury, Venture Partner at TCV, shares lessons and insights from his board
memberships and two decades reporting to corporate boards as CTO at Intuit, CIO
at VMware, and EVP at Ariba. Beth Knuppel, Principal in TCV’s Portfolio Operations,
guides the conversation to the key moments and processes that board members and
CEOs need to master so that their relationships – and the business – can
podcast, Beth and Tayloe address practical questions for anyone coming onto a
board or running a company with board support, such as:
The most important criteria for joining a board
How to maintain diversity of opinion on the board while
still providing the CEO with convergent advice
Why board members should meet with their CEO informally
between board meetings
How to set efficient board meeting agendas that allow for
in-depth discussion of pressing issues
Why board members should evaluate their own performance
and not just the CEO’s
For this and more, settle back and click play.
Beth Knuppel: Welcome to Growth Journeys. This is a
podcast series from TCV focused on lessons from the field from both operators
and entrepreneurs in the TCV ecosystem. I’m Beth Knuppel. I’m an Operating Principal
at TCV, where I lead our talent center of excellence within portfolio
operations. Our podcast today is all about the CEO board partnership and
lessons learned for effective governance. I’m joined today by Tayloe Stansbury.
Tayloe is a Venture Partner at TCV, where he works with existing portfolio
companies, and he’s also involved in diligence for potential investments. In
addition, Tayloe serves on the board of directors at Coupa Software and
BlueJeans. Welcome to Growth Journeys, Tayloe.
Tayloe Stansbury: Thank you very much. It’s great to
Beth Knuppel: So, Tayloe, you had a long, successful
corporate career before joining TCV as a venture partner. Most recently you
were CTO at Intuit. Tell me a little bit about your background and how you got
to this point.
Tayloe Stansbury: For the last decade, I was CTO at
Intuit. I looked after all their technology operations — so engineering, data
AI, IT, and information security. And before that, I worked at a number of
other companies, including Ariba. I was EVP of product and operations there,
which included customer support, product management, engineering, and
operations. I worked also at VMware, Calico, Xerox, Sun, and Borland in a
variety of different engineering and general management positions.
Beth Knuppel: So you are a technology veteran, for
Tayloe Stansbury: I guess.
Beth Knuppel: In addition to those roles, I mentioned
you also serve in some board of director roles. You were on the board of
Shutterfly for three years. You continue to serve on the board at Coupa and at
BlueJeans. What was it that attracted you to board service in the first place?
Tayloe Stansbury: I was a direct report to CEOs of
public companies for some 20 years, which meant that most every quarter I was
doing presentations to boards. And it started to intrigue me that maybe I could
contribute at a different level. And that’s what led me to getting onto my
Beth Knuppel: When you say at a different level, tell
me more about what that means to you. What is it that a good board really adds
to a company?
Tayloe Stansbury: Boards advise, right? Boards don’t
manage. Management manages. And I think that distinction is really important.
Boards bring a wealth of experience that is orthogonal to what some of the
managers have and can advise them on new situations that arise and how to think
about new problems.
Beth Knuppel: I think that a lot of people have in
their mind this outdated stereotype of the board member who sort of jets in,
goes to dinner, maybe makes a few pithy comments at the meeting the next day,
and then you don’t hear from them again for another quarter. I should say, that
is definitely not the model at TCV. Our boards are really engaged. But I’m
curious, what would a management team expect, or what should they expect, in
terms of engagement in between those quarterly board meetings? How do you work
with the board in between those formal opportunities?
Tayloe Stansbury: For myself, I’d say, I generally
meet with the CEO of each of the boards that I’m on once in between each board
meeting — go out to dinner, to breakfast, or something like that — and just
talk about whatever’s on their mind. And I usually adopt one or two, sometimes
three members of the senior management team that I coach. And I usually meet
with them once off-cycle between board meetings. And those meetings can be a
lot of fun, high engagement.
Beth Knuppel: Got it. You know, a lot of our audience
are founders who may not have ever worked with a board before. So you’re
talking about this engagement in between. Who’s initiating that? Is that you,
on the board? How should the CEO be reaching out?
Tayloe Stansbury: I think it’s best always if the CEO
is making the introductions so you’re not invading their space and having
meetings unbeknownst to the CEO. I’d give an example from a board I was on that
was for a college. And the president asked me if I would lead the advancement
committee, which means fundraising. And I said, “Hey, I’ll do anything for
you, but I know nothing about fundraising.” And she said, “You’ll
figure it out,” and turned around and then walked away. So she did
actually introduce me to the head of fundraising and, we had a very fruitful
relationship, where I would come down before each of the board meetings and go
over his management challenges, his prioritization challenges, and how it is
that he was going to present to the board, because while he was very
experienced in fundraising and I was not, I knew something about presenting to
boards and he didn’t. And so it would end up being a very fruitful relationship
and we blew through all our targets and it was great.
Beth Knuppel: That’s great. One of the sayings that
we have here at TCV is that the journey to the top is never a straight line,
right? Every organization experiences setbacks and challenges. But I’m
wondering, the CEO is typically looking to put their best foot forward with the
board. How should a CEO balance that? How should they bring bad news or maybe
challenging situations to the attention of their board?
Tayloe Stansbury: If all you’re doing is the
Pollyanna version, nobody learns anything. I think what’s really best is
approaching it with complete transparency and an attitude of seeking counsel,
because that’s when you get the true value out of a board member who may have
been through some of these things, or have cognated things before. So that’s
hard to do. It means you’ve got to show your dirty laundry. But over time, you
can build a relationship with a board where that’s okay, because they’ve had
dirty laundry in managing the things that they did earlier in their lives as
well. And they’re not going to be freaked out about it, and they’ll be able to
give you much better advice which will enable you to perform better over time,
with the transparency.
Beth Knuppel: It sounds like a key piece of that is
just developing trust.
Tayloe Stansbury: Absolutely.
Beth Knuppel: How do you think about doing that when
you’ve joined a new board and you’re establishing your own relationships with
the other board members, with the CEO? How do you think about your entry into
Tayloe Stansbury: Well, I think you’re hitting on a
really important issue which is that the relationships are really important.
And I think boards work best when there’s diversity of thought, everybody is
respectful of each other’s opinions, but they’re also able to converge towards
something which is a plan of action or a consistent set of advice for the
management team. And I think the same thing is true with management. There has
to be that trust of each other, the sense that different people are bringing
something different to the party that is worth listening to and every now and
then might be the key thing you need to know to manage through a tough
situation. Mechanically, how that would work is going out to dinner with these
people off-cycle from regular board meetings, getting to know them, and getting
to build up that level of trust and respect for what it is that they’ve done.
Beth Knuppel: Right. I’m curious. As you work with a
CEO, you want to build that trusted relationship, but at the end of the day, as
a member of the board, part of your job is to evaluate the performance of the
Tayloe Stansbury: That’s right.
Beth Knuppel: How do you work through CEO evaluation?
Tayloe Stansbury: I think it’s best practice to have
an annual evaluation of the CEO and actually even an annual evaluation of the
other board members, where you think about: “What are the objectives that were
set for the company, what are the objectives that the CEO may have set?” And
everybody actually scores the CEO on that. You have a discussion as a board,
and that gets presented to the CEO on an annual basis. And that discussion
precedes setting the compensation for the CEO for the following year. I think that
detachment where you can help and also provide some evaluation — hopefully
which has got constructive ideas as to how the CEO can improve in areas where
perhaps they need to grow.
Beth Knuppel: And you mentioned that you think it’s
good hygiene for the board to engage in some self-reflection as well.
Tayloe Stansbury: Yes.
Beth Knuppel: How does that process work?
Tayloe Stansbury: Same way. Score each other, get
together to have a couple-hour discussion about what came out in the survey.
And if it’s a board that has mutual respect, those kinds of comments can end up
helping bring the board closer together and help smooth out some rough spots.
Beth Knuppel: In the case of, maybe, a board that’s
underperforming, what are some of the things that in the past you’ve
encountered that help address an underperforming board?
Tayloe Stansbury: I see it as a spectrum – where at
one end of the spectrum, you have a rubber-stamp board that’s not really
providing any meaningful thought diversity to the problem, and the other end,
where you have an acrimonious board which can’t agree on anything and they’re
just fighting over stuff. And I think the sweet spot is somewhere in the
middle, where everybody is thoughtful, they’re presenting diverse points of
view, and they’re figuring out how to converge that into something that is
constructive for the management team. And how do you get there? Again, I think
it’s by spending time with each other and learning to appreciate what each
other’s gifts are, what each other’s experiences are, what their scars are that
they’ve managed to live through and learn things from. On a rare occasion, it
may be best if some people move off the board if they just can’t get aligned
with the rest of the team.
Beth Knuppel: Are there any common pitfalls that you
Tayloe Stansbury: In one case in particular, we did
have a board that was pretty acrimonious and couldn’t get on the same page and
it was very hard to get anything done. It was very hard to give consistent
advice to the president of that organization. What happened in the end is some
of the people who were really on a different page rolled off. And we got down
to a set of people not who were rubber-stamped, who had diverse points of view
but were able to come together in the end.
Beth Knuppel: I know at Coupa, you’re a member of the
nominating and governance committee. What is it that you think about when
you’re evaluating somebody who might potentially join the board? For CEOs out
there, what should they be looking for when they’re thinking about board
Tayloe Stansbury: We look at: “What is the skill set?”
We have a whole matrix for skill sets that would be desirable for the board,
and we score each other on how strong we think we are on those things. And that
leaves it clear where there are some areas where we may have some gaps, some
skills gaps — some experience gaps — that it would be really nice to flesh
the board out with. And so then you go and say, “Well, who would be the
people who could best fill those skill or experience gaps?” And then you
look for, “Who are the people who are going to work well with the rest of
the board, whose voices will be heard, who will hear other people’s voices, and
will actually be convergent in their thinking, over time.”
Beth Knuppel: And, of course, the other side of the
coin, as you’ve joined boards, you’re also making an evaluation. What is it
that you look for to figure out whether a board is a good fit or not?
Tayloe Stansbury: The first thing is, you’ve got to
have a passion for the business. If it isn’t a business that you love, then you
probably shouldn’t be taking up space on the board. Another thing I really want
is to have a visceral sense of what is the strategic path to success for this
organization. So how is it that they’re going to weather whatever competitive
threats and come out on top? Your sense of that may change over time, but I
think you have to go in with a pretty good hypothesis of how this organization
can become durable and win against the invariable competition. And the last
thing is, it’s got to be people I like, because you’re going to be working with
these people over several years. And you’re going to have to come to converged
advice for management. It helps if you like everybody who’s involved.
Beth Knuppel: Sure. I’m curious to get your
perspective on bringing on a new board member. Is there anything that you’ve
experienced personally, or you’ve seen done really well, in terms of onboarding
somebody onto the board?
Tayloe Stansbury: I think that bringing on a new
board member is a big deal, and if you just hand them a board book and say,
“Show up for the next meeting,” they’re going to come in without a
lot of context, and they’re going to feel a little bit not on the inside, and
their questions are just going to be off-kilter. And what I’ve seen as a best
practice is you invest several hours, like a day, in training a new board
member by having them meet with some of the senior management people,
one-to-one, and then also go through a full rundown on the products, including
demos of the products, so they have a real feel for the business and the
Beth Knuppel: I’d love to get your perspective on how
you think about the board agenda, and what topics are actually covered. Board
time is so precious, you want to make sure that you’ve got a thoughtfully
constructed agenda. What, in your view, rises to the level of importance for a
Tayloe Stansbury: One thing I’ve seen that doesn’t
really work really well for board agendas is to try to have every key member of
the senior leadership team talk about the progress in their area every single
board meeting. What I have found works a lot, lot better is if you look at the
board calendar over the course of a year and say, “How do we make sure
that every function gets their day in court, if you will, with the board, over
the course of a year rather than the course of a single meeting?” And
everybody can have a deeper discussion, and you get into the meatier stuff. Now, to complement that, I think
having board materials that are first-rate, that come out early enough so that
all the board members have a chance to read and digest them, is really
And what you
can do in the board materials is make sure that the board materials include
some news about what’s happening in every function that has something to report
— even if they’re not going to present — so the board gets a view of that as
it’s happening but then gets the deeper-dive discussions.
Beth Knuppel: Great. When I was presenting to boards
on a regular basis, one of the things my CEO always said was, “Be bright,
be brief, be gone.” In other words, do whatever you need to, to avoid the
dreaded page flip where it’s kind of a march through slides that hopefully the
board has already read. Is there anything you would share with folks who are in
that spot of presenting to the board?
Tayloe Stansbury: I think it’s important for
presenters to realize that the board has read the materials in advance and say
the things only that punch up the most important parts of what’s on the pages.
I think another good practice is you may think that you’re going to have an
hour to present or half an hour to present, and it may be that the schedule
goes sideways and you end up with only 5 or 10 minutes to present. It’s always
good to have the 5-minute version of your presentation in the back of your mind
so if you’re asked to do that, you can say something intelligent and helpful
during whatever time remains. An important thing to remember about board
members is they come and engage only periodically in the business. You, as an
operating leader, are in there every single day. The board member isn’t going
to remember all the context that you’ve got in your brain, and they’re not
going to remember the thing that you told them three months ago. So making sure
that you show not current state, but trajectory over what’s happened before,
can help make sense for the board member.
Beth Knuppel: Great. Good advice. I want to close out
with two questions. And first, I’m curious, if you look back over your board
service, what do you think is the biggest learning that you’ve taken away? What
is it that you would do differently the next time you join a board?
Tayloe Stansbury: You know, I think that getting to a
sense of flow with a board, where you’ve got good ideas that are coming in,
people bringing diverse thoughts, and where people are thoughtful about that
and get to a good place quickly in terms of advising management, those are the
boards that feel really good. The ones where you have people who are on a
different place of, “Hey, I’m excited about this company,” and others
who are thinking, “We ought to sell this company,” and you just can’t
get them together, those end up being pretty rough situations. And you want to
avoid the latter, if you can.
Beth Knuppel: Finally, for founders, for management
teams who might be listening, what would you say would be the key takeaway that
you would offer them for, really, how do you build and leverage an effective
Tayloe Stansbury: Look for openness and trust. Build
a board where that exists. And working together, you can actually be a lot
smarter than you can individually.
Beth Knuppel: Absolutely. Great insights, Tayloe.
Thank you so much for joining us today.
Tayloe Stansbury: Thank you so much.
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