Trulioo Closes USD $394M Series D led by TCV at $1.75B Valuation

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA (PRWEB) JUNE 07, 2021

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.

Media Contacts

KIM HONG
Trulioo
1-888-773-0179
kim@trulioo.com

KATJA GAGEN
TCV
1-415-690-6689
kgagen@tcv.com


Hotmart Company raises US$130 million in investment round led by TCV

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 – mariana.rosa@hotmart.com
TCV – Katja Gagen – kgagen@tcv.com


TCV Closes TCV XI at $4 Billion

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

###

The views and opinions expressed are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of TCMI, Inc. or its affiliates (“TCV”). TCV has not verified the accuracy of any statements by the authors and disclaims any responsibility therefor. This blog post is not an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any private fund managed or sponsored by TCV or any of the securities of any company discussed. The TCV portfolio companies identified 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 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/.


Redis Labs Raises $100 Million from Bain Capital Ventures and TCV to Help Companies Win in the Data-Driven Economy

Mountain View, August 25, 2020—Redis Labs, the company behind Redis, the most popular open source database and the provider of Redis Enterprise, today announced it has closed $100 million in Series F financing at a company valuation of more than $1 billion. This investment was co-led by Bain Capital Ventures and TCV, with participation by the company’s existing investors Francisco PartnersGoldman Sachs GrowthViola Ventures, and Dell Technologies Capital. With this funding, Redis Labs has now raised over $246 million to-date. 

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.

Learn how Redis Labs can give you this edge at redislabs.com.

Media Contact
Steve Naventi
Redis Labs
press@redislabs.com

Katja Gagen
TCV
kgagen@tcv.com


New CEO, New Normal, and High Demand for Online Giving – How GoFundMe is Mastering All While Staying True to its Mission

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.

***

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


From Entrepreneur to Investor and Back Again: Modsy’s Founder 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.

***

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.

###

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/.


Revolut raises $500 million in Series D funding as it sets sight on profitability and daily adoption in 2020

  • 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.

The new 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.

The new 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%.

The new 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 Europe. 

Revolut will 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. 

Revolut will 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 Directors. 

Commenting 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.”

Commenting 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.”

Commenting 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 —

About Revolut 

Revolut is 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. 

Since 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 more.  

Headquartered 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 
chad@revolut.com l +447860651737

Kiran Wylie, Senior Communications Manager 
kiran@revolut.com l +447875057754

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 $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.

TCV’s 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/.

TCV Press Contact
Katja Gagen, TCV Communications 
kgagen@tcv.com l +1 415 690 6689


Toast Announces $400M in Series F Funding

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.

Contacts

Karen DeVincent-Reinbold
Sr. PR & communications manager
media@toasttab.com
857-301-6074

Katja Gagen
TCV, Marketing
kgagen@tcv.com
415-690-6689


The Most Important Relationship in Business: Best Practices for Board Directors and CEOs They Advise

Board 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 thrive.

In this 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.

TRANSCRIPT

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 be here.

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 sure?

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 first board.

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 that board?

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 CEO.

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 see?

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 composition?

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 competitive space.

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 board meeting?

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 important.

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 board?

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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