The financial crisis of 2008 came as a resounding shock for countless companies, including many in the financial industry itself. But not for AxiomSL, a leading provider of cloud-enabled software for governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) regulatory reporting solutions to the financial services industry.
AxiomSL was founded by Alex Tsigutkin and Vladimir Etkin in 1991. As data management experts they had seen disorganized, unintegrated GRC processes even in highly regarded financial firms. “Everywhere I went, it was the same. The data was all over the place, in different systems and different departments,” explains Tsigutkin, CEO of AxiomSL. “We saw a real need to bring all of this enterprise data together at a granular level.” Large financial institutions soon began adopting AxiomSL’s software to assemble data they used for assessing risks and reporting financial results to investors and regulators.
Then the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Banking Act in 1999 freed financial institutions to diversify into a wide range of new activities, and GRC processes took a back seat comparatively. The new priority was financial innovation and growth, to extend the United States’ position of prominence in global finance. “For years, the government and regulators didn’t put that much pressure on financial institutions,” Tsigutkin points out. “That changed completely after the 2008 financial crisis, and that’s when AxiomSL really took off.”
By this time, the company’s software data management platform and related algorithms organized operating data to align with the latest requirements of various regulatory authorities in multiple countries globally. These category-leading capabilities spurred AxiomSL’s sales growth into double-digit territory. International business began climbing too. “We were growing like wheat in the fields,” says Tsigutkin, a native of Ukraine.
But growth also brought some challenges. AxiomSL had always given its customers attentive support, especially when they were new to automating GRC processes. With rapid growth, that level of care was becoming harder to sustain; a successful strategy for landing and expanding clients was reaching its limits. “It’s very difficult to do everything on your own, especially dealing with a large and growing client base at the same time,” Tsigutkin says. “I felt this was a great opportunity to put some expert disciplines together. When I got advice on how to do that, it was to bring top notch growth equity into the mix.”
So Tsigutkin invited growth-stage investors to present their ideas for AxiomSL, including TCV, a firm he knew well from regular interactions in the past. With around $2 billion already invested in fintech, TCV understood that AxiomSL’s business could grow even faster for three interrelated reasons: an explosion of data in the financial world, proliferating regulations around the globe, and sharply higher consequences for financial companies that mismanaged them. With tighter financial discipline, more proactive sales efforts and scaling up systems and processes, AxiomSL believed it could become not just a category leader but the global standard for risk management and regulatory infrastructure solutions for the financial services industry.
“As we talked with private equity firms, TCV was distinctive in a number of aspects,” recalls Etkin, the company’s CTO. “They had proven success with fintech and GRC companies, so their long-term vision for AxiomSL and their approach to collaborative business-building really stood out.”
TCV invested in AxiomSL in June of 2017, and the new partnership moved fast. “TCV knows how to focus on what’s key for scaling a company, not just growing in the same way,” Tsigutkin explains. For example, TCV pinpointed the need for industrializing sales, sales leadership as well as more robust processes for planning and budgeting. “They also helped us understand how to use equity to attract and reward people,” Etkin notes, which enabled the company to recruit multiple new executives with significant experience scaling similar organizations.
“TCV saw in AxiomSL a category leading industry-specific software business with next generation technology, a highly satisfied client base, a mission-critical use case, – and most importantly, product-centric co-founders and partners in Alex and Vlad who had deep subject matter expertise and a strong growth orientation.” recalled Nari Ansari, TCV general partner and former board director at AxiomSL.
The collaborative approach between AxiomSL management and TCV helped AxiomSL accelerate growth, increasing software revenue over 150% in three years. Its ControllerView® intelligent data management and analytics platform could provide thousands of reports across dozens of jurisdictions and more than 100 regulatory agencies. From 60 employees during the financial crisis, the company had grown to nearly 900 globally. According to Tsigutkin, “having such a strong team really helped us to build a world-class organization.”
Consistent with TCV’s longstanding investment thesis for governance risk and compliance solutions, change and complexity can provide for significant opportunities for leading software vendors. Indeed, AxiomSL’s positioning for its offering set has been as a “Platform for Change” given the constantly evolving regulatory environment for financial services market participants. As the business entered 2020, that change orientation would become even more paramount.
“As COVID-19 started in early 2020, the world changed quickly, and the swiftness of market happenings was adding increased complexity for banks and regulators alike. During this period, AxiomSL’s value proposition in understanding and managing risk continued to demonstrate its importance and the business saw sustained momentum throughout 2020,” remarked Amol Helekar, a TCV principal.
When the pandemic hit, AxiomSL as an organization had to adapt as quickly as its customers. “Being with TCV during this period was absolutely a blessing,” Tsigutkin recalls. “First they helped us to stay calm and provided very sound advice about our talent strategy and the welfare of our valued Axiom team members. Then they helped us focus on execution and growth. Moving more into digital marketing, for example, really enabled us to keep growing in 2020. TCV also supported us as we increased our investment in cloud offerings which became even more important in a distributed COVID world for our bank clients.”
AxiomSL’s hyper-growth during the TCV partnership resulted in consistent market share gains. Along with the company’s strong profitability, blue chip client list and technology leadership, these attributes brought interest from outside parties, particularly private equity firms. As Rick Kimball, TCV founding general partner and former AxiomSL board director remarked, “Alex, Vlad, and the team transformed the organization during our partnership while deftly executing a growth agenda that expanded the business on multiple dimensions.”
In the fall of 2020, TCV worked collaboratively with Alex, Vlad, and the AxiomSL management team to assess this external investment interest and prepare the business to explore various alternatives. Ultimately this brought an offer from private equity firm Thoma Bravo to acquire a majority stake in the company. The new investment closed in December of 2020 in one of the largest GRC transactions of its kind, and Tsigutkin took a moment to reflect, “Our growth is due in no small part to the contributions of TCV, who has been a critical partner for AxiomSL for the past three years as we grew the franchise at a record pace.”
January 07, 2021 — BERLIN, MIAMI & SINGAPORE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Mambu, the market-leading SaaS banking platform, today announced its latest funding round of €110 million ($134 million USD) in new capital. This round was led by TCV, whose investments include Netflix, RELEX, Spotify, and WorldRemit. Additional investment was received by Tiger Global and Arena Holdings, as well as existing investors Bessemer Venture Partners, Runa Capital and Acton Capital Partners. The new round brings the company’s valuation to over €1.7 billion.
With this new round of financing, Mambu will continue to accelerate its rapid growth and deepen its footprint in the more than 50 countries in which it already operates and focus on markets like Brazil, Japan, and the United States. This announcement follows another year of approximately 100% YoY growth for Mambu in a banking software market which Gartner currently values at over $100 billion and is forecasting to grow at double-digits. FT Partners was the exclusive financial advisor on this transaction.
Mambu’s SaaS banking platform sets it apart from traditional core banking players as it drastically accelerates and simplifies the way financial products are built and serviced by any financial institution. Mambu’s platform is used by traditional banks, fintech startups, financial institutions, nonprofits and other businesses to power their financial products and services. Counting the likes of ABN AMRO, N26, OakNorth, Orange and Santander among its customer base, Mambu is powering both the building of new fintechs as well as the migration of existing financial institutions onto a tech stack fit for the fintech era. Mambu is continuing to expand both the breadth and depth of its platform and is planning to double the team to over 1000 Mambuvians by 2022.
Eugene Danilkis, founder and CEO of Mambu said: “When Mambu launched in 2011, we knew the future of banking would have to be built on agile and flexible technology. Nearly a decade later, this is more true now than ever, particularly given developments over the past year. As an increasing number of challenger and established banks sign on to prepare themselves to thrive in the fintech era, we have, and will continue to provide them with a world-class platform on which to build modern, agile customer-centric businesses.
“This latest funding round allows us to accelerate our mission to make banking better for a billion people around the world and address one of the largest, most complex global market opportunities that’s still in the infancy of cloud,” he said.
TCV General Partner,John Doran who joins the Mambu board, said: “Mambu was one of the first companies to leverage the opportunity to move banking software into the cloud. The team has built a highly composable, truly cloud-native product in a multi-billion dollar, rapidly-growing market traditionally dominated by large, slow-moving on-prem vendors. We have been following Mambu’s progress for many years and are truly delighted to be able to partner with Eugene and the entire Mambu team on their journey to expand their offerings to customers worldwide.”
Mambu is the SaaS banking platform that is changing financial services. This rapidly growing company was launched in 2011 and is enabling customers to build modern banking and lending offerings fast, securely and simply. Through its composable banking approach, the platform gives customers the ability to design and service nearly any financial product while rapidly integrating to the best-of-service ecosystem of complementary solutions around the world. Mambu has a global network of nearly 500 employees supports 160 customers in over 50 countries. It counts N26, OakNorth, ABN AMRO and Santander amongst its extensive list of customers. For more information, please visit our website or connect with us on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Facebook.
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, including more than $2.5 billion in fintech, and has helped guide CEOs through more than 125 IPOs and strategic acquisitions.
TCV’s investments include Airbnb, AxiomSL, Dollar Shave Club, ExactTarget, Expedia, Facebook, LinkedIn, Netflix, Nubank, Payoneer, Splunk, Spotify, WorldRemit, and Zillow. In Europe, TCV has invested over $2 billion in companies including Believe Digital, Brillen.de, Perfecto, FlixMobility, Klarna, Mollie, OneTrust, RELEX Solutions, Revolut, RMS, Sportradar, Spryker, 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/
Revenue is the lifeblood of any business, yet sales planning in a fast-moving tech world is easier said than done. It includes art and science: to succeed, sales leaders need to be both, creative executers and analytical thinkers. New competitors can launch into your markets more easily than ever, while SaaS business models are making it harder to land and expand enterprise-wide contracts. In this timely episode of Growth Journeys, long-time B2B sales leader Mark Smith (NetScreen, Infoblox, Arista, Rubrik) shares veteran advice on sales planning with Kunal Mehta, a principal in TCV’s Portfolio Operations team. Key take-aways include basing near-term forecasts on long-term fundamentals and applying the power of propensity models to predict sales success. Mark and Kunal also explore the secrets of hiring and motivating successful salespeople, why technology is changing the sales cycle, and how to think about 2021:
Using shared data and definitions to integrate sales planning and execution
Leveraging sales recruiting for business development
Aligning engineering and marketing in support of sales plans
Why the pandemic is a tailwind for tech companies
How the SaaS model gave birth to customer success management
For all this and much more, settle back and press play.
TORONTO, Oct. 14, 2020 /CNW/ – Wealthsimple, the company behind Canada’s leading digital investing and stock trading platforms, today announced it has raised CAD $114 million on a valuation of CAD $1.4 billion. The investment was led by TCV, one of the largest growth equity investors focused on technology, alongside Greylock, Meritech, Two Sigma Ventures and existing investor Allianz X. Concurrent with the funding, David Yuan, General Partner at TCV, will join Wealthsimple’s Board of Directors.
Founded in 2014, Wealthsimple has evolved the financial services industry in Canada by bringing smart, simple and affordable financial products and services to market; today over 1.5 million Canadians use Wealthsimple products. The company is known for its client-centric approach to financial products, which include automated investing, commission-free stock and crypto trading, a savings account, and a tax filing software. Wealthsimple will use the new capital to expand its market position, build out its product suite, and grow its team in Canada.
“Our growth over the past six years shows how ready Canadians, and especially younger Canadians, are for a new model of financial services designed around their needs. But too many people still don’t have access to great financial products or are paying too much for them,” said Mike Katchen, co-founder and CEO of Wealthsimple. “There’s still so much room to grow, and to have investors of this caliber join us is an incredible vote of confidence in both our mission and our ability to deliver on it.”
“We have been watching Wealthsimple’s rise in the Canadian market and love the way the company is bringing simplicity, humanity, and delight to personal finance,” said David Yuan, General Partner, TCV. “TCV is focused on businesses that have the potential to transform industries, and we are thrilled to work with Mike and the Wealthsimple team to build a leader in financial services and an important consumer platform.”
TCV invests in tech-focused companies with an ambition to become market leaders. The growth equity firm has backed over 350 technology companies, including Airbnb, Klarna, Netflix, Nubank, Peloton, Revolut, Spotify, and Zillow. Greylock, a longstanding venture capital firm that focuses on enterprise and consumer software, has invested in companies including LinkedIn and Airbnb, and has partnered with over 180 companies through IPO, while Meritech has partnered with 200 companies globally including Salesforce and Snowflake. The investment also marks the first time that Meritech has invested in the Canadian market.
About Wealthsimple Wealthsimple is a financial company on a mission to help everyone achieve financial freedom by providing products and advice that are accessible and affordable. Using smart technology, Wealthsimple takes financial services that are often confusing, opaque and expensive and makes them simple, transparent, and low-cost. The company was founded by a team of financial experts and technology entrepreneurs, and is headquartered in Toronto, Canada. To learn more, visit www.wealthsimple.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, including more than $2 billion in fintech, and has helped guide CEOs through more than 120 IPOs and strategic acquisitions. 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/.
For further information: Wealthsimple Sarah Pattillo, firstname.lastname@example.org, 416-567-7844
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/.
opportunity comes competition, both from within one’s category (e.g.
application area) or from adjacent categories within one’s vertical (e.g. industry).
As boards and management teams wake up to the opportunity, they realize that
the race is on to capture the full potential of their vertical.
This post is
a framework to help leaders of SaaS companies think through the strategic
choices and hopefully increase the odds of reaching their full potential.Strategy
is implemented by focused alignment of execution, talent, M&A, organizational
structure, functional excellence, and financial and governance/board frameworks.
I hope to write about these supporting pieces over time, but I wanted to start
with strategy first.
think it’s important to acknowledge that very few companies have reached “full
potential,” and this framework is
inherently aspirational. However, “most entrepreneurs aren’t building a house,
they are putting bricks in the foundation of a skyscraper” (Naval Ravikant). Aspiration is important, so
hopefully this is an articulation of what is possible.
of the SaaS strategy is well understood so I won’t spend much time on it. A
SaaS company aspires to:
build a great product (and service)
over time, build an efficient and repeatable
go-to-market model (marketing -> sales -> onboarding)
and then “add capital” and execution
to press its advantage against sluggish incumbents or poorly capitalized
This is the
playbook that Omniture and our portfolio company ExactTarget pioneered a decade ago. Despite
massive capital inflows into SaaS and deteriorating economics, this model
generally still works today.
On the product side, scale
in data + AI can create increasing differentiation. For example, when you start
to have more data than anyone else, you can flip your product from being
reactive to proactive — having the product tell users where to look and how to
optimize the system. Both Xero and Shopify have done this well.
Five other things
to think about in this early phase that don’t get enough attention:
Scalable onboarding: Onboarding friction can be unaccounted
drivers of CAC and churn. A great onboarding process builds the trust and
confidence that are the foundations of virality/word of mouth, future cross- as
well as third party channel strategies. Carefully measure funnel metrics and be
attentive to new customer NPS. Automate early as “throwing bodies at it” can
create process debt that will be difficult to unwind later.
Expansion: Expansion drives net revenue
retention and most of the strategies we are about to discuss. With all sales
processes, it’s a lot easier to learn, iterate, and optimize with fewer bodies
and less complexity.
UI and Architecture: Like onboarding, these can be long-lead
time fixes that compound as your business scales and gets more complex. A
specific call out is to plan for an API strategy. It can facilitate future
partner strategies and increase the value and stickiness of your offering.
Pricing structure/strategy: You will constantly revisit tactics,
but it’s important to have some sense of how your pricing structure might change
Foundations for global, including a work culture that can
support distributed executives and operations, and good product feedback loops that
incorporate non-home market needs.
Hyperscale Locations, Feed
A lot of ink
has been spilled on forward investing in sales and marketing, and arguably it’s
part of a/the “lead the category” strategy. But, it’s worth a call out as it’s
important you don’t take your eye off the ball too early. So much of winning and
future monetization is getting location market share. When the wind is at your
back, go get it done! Market structures have a nasty habit of shifting, future
secular tailwinds may abate, or competitors may leapfrog your product or your go-to-market
model. If your churn and sales economics are sound, keep “feeding the beast!”
particularly powerful unlock is Channel. There are verticals and
categories, where influencers in a channel are kingmakers and can help you
engage with segments that are otherwise difficult or uneconomical to
reach. Furthermore, Channel partners’
engagement and contributions can enrich your products and increase overall
customer value. A great example is in tax software, where Xero’s wooing of accountants proved to be
an effective source of customers and a formidable competitive moat (thereby
disrupting the incumbent provider). Xero went as far as offering free practice
management tools to help accountants run and grow their business on Xero.
Win the Control Points:
Own Your Vertical
where management teams are faced with a paradox of choice: “Where should we go
next? How should we spend the next incremental dollar? On increasing ARPU, acquiring
incremental locations, or expanding into new verticals, geos or segments?” At
this juncture, it is my belief that you should focus on winning the control points. In vertical SaaS, there are
typically one or two control points, “systems of record.” Usually one control
point in the front office (e.g. Point of Sale, CRM, e-commerce) – “that drives sales,
that grows the business, that serves as the cash register.” And one control
point in the back office (e.g. general ledger) – “where everything else
reconciles to.” Hopefully, you provide one of the systems of record, so go
build or acquire the other system(s) of record and secure the high ground!
a system of record is the last software package a customer will “turn off” in a
tough economic time.
I also like
to think about the concept of “gravity”:
gravity – the system that all other systems integrate to – it’swhere the most users spend the most time. Not all workflows
deliver the same value; in my experience the system of record workflow tends to
deliver the most value.
gravity – the system that creates and holds the most critical information and is the
hardest to migrate. That data can be critical to a client for a wide range of
applications, from understanding their customers (e.g. CRM) to managing risk
(e.g. compliance). Data also can be critical in two-level situations, such as
loan underwriting (e.g. a bank underwriting a merchant’s risk via POS data) or
supplier information management (e.g. a client managing risk by validating
supplier capabilities and quality). Data depth and scope also create gravity
where AI technologies can be highly productive.
the user/sponsor of the system is the highest-ranking individual in the customer
organization; it’s the system that requires the biggest financial outlay, etc.
other system of record is not easy. By definition, a system of record is hard
to displace and unless the market is greenfield pen and paper, competition can
be challenging. You may be able to do it organically with product innovation,
but M&A can be the more desirable path if “integration debt” is manageable.
If M&A is not possible, a slow winnowing of your competitor may be the only
approach available to you.
If you own
multiple systems of record in a vertical, the benefits are enormous:
Customer delight: automation from integrated
workflows and potentially unified data and data models allow efficiencies and
offerings unavailable before
Stronger account ownership
to capture incremental spend and drive more efficient growth
A new level of
durability and stickiness
A good example
is Veeva. The company started in 2007 with the launch of a CRM
and a sales automation platform for pharma sales reps (e.g. record their
activity, keep track of the doctors they meet with or drop off samples for, etc.).
After becoming the dominant player in that category, Veeva saw an opportunity
to move backward into research and
development for their life science customers (developing new drugs,
conducting clinical trials and bringing those drugs to market). In 2011 Veeva
launched Vault, a suite of applications that first centered on the core content
management needs for clinical trials, regulatory submissions, and quality
documentation. The company then expanded to include a series of core data
applications that help manage clinical trials, quality processes, safety processes, etc. Veeva is expected to
finish 2019 with $1.1B in revenue (26% YoY Growth) and 37% EBIT margins. Vault
represented 51% of total revenue and grew 38% YoY. Analysts also estimate Vault
meaningfully expanded Veeva’s addressable market.
example might be front office player Shopify’s $450M acquisition of 6 River
Systems to move into back office fulfillment and warehouse management. Some
financial analysts estimate that merchants spend up to ~10-15% of their GMV on
logistics which could potentially provide multiples of Shopify’s current take
category leadership comes high market share and potentially high saturation. Long-term
growth is driven by location growth, as there’s generally a finite share of
wallet you can access. It’s important to invest in the S-curves of geos,
segments, and adjacent verticals that can unlock new location TAM. This can
take a couple of tries before you’re successful, so start this during your growth
phase when there’s less pressure on maximizing profitability.
Extend Through the Value
of growth can be transformative. By leveraging the strengths of your core
customers, you can expand into a new market with a new set of customers. Typical
patterns include moving from front office software to extend to your customer’s
customers, or from back office software and extending to suppliers. These can
be riskier bets, but success can pay out big here:
Workflow that spans multiple parties and
creates increased customer value and vendor stickiness
Two-level network effects
seems to work best by “following the money” and leveraging purchasing power. TCV
portfolio company Ariba articulated the “golden rule”— He
with the gold rules! By using their leadership in procurement software at large
corporate buyers, Ariba extended to build a robust suppliers software business
for merchants that serviced those corporate buyers. More recently, Avetta has followed a similar path in the
supplier information space by building a strong two-level network effect. We
believe corporate clients want to be on Avetta because it has the largest
network of suppliers, and suppliers want to be on Avetta because it has the
most corporate clients. Avetta’s advantage gets stronger as it scales. Moreover,
Avetta has an opportunity to help suppliers do more than just manage compliance
information. As a result, Avetta sees growth in helping suppliers grow and
operate their business.
CCC is on the third generation of this approach. They started by
serving large auto insurance carriers and then extended into autobody repair shops
that serve the carriers. CCC is now in the process of expanding to parts
suppliers. By getting all the key constituents on its software platform, CCC is
able to leverage AI and automation to massively reduce friction and provide a
great customer experience across all steps of the auto insurance process.
opportunity is similar to the supplier opportunity in terms of “following the
money.” Companies can use integrated payroll or time & attendance offerings
to establish a relationship with the employee. Employees are also consumers who
represent significant B2C opportunities such as consumer lending, insurance,
etc. There are big dollars here, but perhaps less opportunity to build significant
consumer/demand opportunity is the white whale. We believe that SaaS companies
tend to capture ~ 50-100bps of GMV for software subscription, whereas online
demand channels can take 15-20% of GMV in categories such as hotels and
restaurants. In addition to the massive revenue opportunity, Consumer also represents a strategic
flank worth monitoring carefully. Online marketplaces have large competing
salesforces that engage with your merchant customers and have strategic
interests encroach on the software layer to try to control supply. Booking.com bought Buuteeq and Hotel Ninjas to
vertically integrate into hotel supply. Uber is rapidly expanding its driver
offering to over-draft protection, a debit card, and likely lending over time
to manage driver churn. This is another example of increasing marketplace + SaaS convergence.
derivative Consumer monetization
Consumer pay:FareHarbor approaches tour and activity
operators with a free to merchant, consumer pay model: “We’ll build your
website and booking engine for free, with no work on your part; you just pay us
for payment processing and the customer will pay us a booking fee.”
Channel management:SiteMinder offers
channel management to help hotels manage existing channels in real time. SiteMinder
has extended that value proposition to “Demand Plus,” an offering that helps
hotels easily expand into new channels to scale demand.
Existing customers: While 15-20% marketplace take rates may
be sensible for new customer acquisition/discovery, companies such as Olo are looking to move existing
customers to lower cost channels through their dispatch offering while taking a
much lower percentage of GMV.
Customer Co-opt: By seeing consumer data pass through
their systems, some SaaS vendors are building consumer profile databases that
they might monetize over time. In the recruiting market, we’ve seen players
leverage job distribution tools to build a candidate database. Shopify
similarly has built a large shopper profile database across all their
merchants. While Shopify hasn’t monetized directly, the uplift in conversion
rate is likely significant. This model is the most capital efficient but can create
conflicts with the vendor’s core merchant customers.
benefit of extending through the value chain is that it gives you a
beachhead and a right to win in a new vertical to start the “full potential”
growth cycle again. As you do this, it’s important to reconsider your end
market and focus. When Ariba transitioned from procurement software to supply
network, they started to represent a front office “system of record” for their
suppliers. In doing so, Ariba was both a large enterprise “procurement company”
and an SMB “supplier enablement company.” The question was: “Which priority
should dominate?” When extension leads to conflicts, there are no easy answers.
As such, it is important to acknowledge that this growth strategy is ever-evolving.
In winning the key control points,
for the same reason a single system of record has a lot of “gravity,”
you now have an even stronger opportunity to turn your product into a channel. This
enables entry into adjacencies with data, workflow, and account ownership
advantages for you as well as for the end customer. The most extreme example is the “platform/ecosystem”
play, where you monetize third party vendors that want access to the channel your
product has become (e.g. Salesforce, Intuit, Shopify). However, most commonly a SaaS
vendor will pursue additional monetization with in-house or white-labeled
consideration in prioritizing adjacent function/monetization is consistency
with your core go-to-market channel and proximity to key decision makers. Go-to-market
will determine the financial leverage of the cross-sell and often the overall
success. The core advantage of SMB software here is that often the
decision-making is relatively consistent and concentrated across software
vertical is different, but there are some common functionality/monetization
patterns emerging. Each of these patterns deserves its own write-up, but for the
sake of brevity here are some highlights:
“Integrated payments -> integrated banking”: The attachment of payments to SaaS has been well covered. That trend is expanding to the attachment of integrated banking. I had an opportunity to interview two of the smartest people in the business, Tim Barash and Jackie Reses. Square is out front here with broad based merchant and consumer plays. To understand the magnitude of the opportunity, Square’s Subscription & Services (most of which are financial services) are expected to reach $1.3B in 2020. This represents 23% of 2020 total GAAP revenue and 47% of 2020 Total Gross Profit (incremental gross profit is ~90%). Brex is earlier in its progression, but we’re excited to see how the company leverages its initial corporate card and expense management offerings to extend into broader financial services.
“Follow the workflow”: At times SaaS companies have
actually observed customers at work or mapped out the physical sites to
understand all the areas their workflow touches as areas of expansion.
“TAM shark”:HashiCorp CEO
David McJannet describes expansion as “TAM Shark,” constantly circling the
biggest, fastest growing (most change/opportunity) markets. He requires product
managers to report on market size and growth of all adjacent categories to make
sure they are focused on the biggest opportunities. Generally, over a 2-3 year
period companies have one, maybe two opportunities to build distinct add-on
businesses. Make sure you’re picking the biggest markets and therefore the
typical SaaS playbook is “Lead the Category” and “Hyperscale Locations,”
clearly the full potential for vertical SaaS players is dramatically larger
than conventional SaaS wisdom would suggest. We’re excited to work with — and
hopefully invest in —the frontier players as they explore the “Full Potential
If you found
this useful, let me know, and we’ll continue to publish and explore the topic. I
look forward to hearing your adds, edits, and challenges.
There’s a tension between aggregating as big a profit pool as quickly as possible vs. “winning the market.”
This framework is characterized as a sequential strategy. In reality, most companies are pursuing multiple steps concurrently, and the sequence is more a reflection of prioritization.
Time horizon: this approach is a long-term strategy to winning, which may often be at odds with short-term maximization of valuation multiple and financial performance.
This approach is informed by a U.S./western/mature approach. In emerging/more greenfield markets, less focus and value chain expansion earlier in company development may make sense.
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 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 document, please see “Informational
 See TCV’s SMB and Vertical SaaS investments at the end of the document.
transformation is driving enterprises to rapidly enter the next chapter of
cloud adoption. Nearly half of current infrastructure-as-a-service Enterprise
users are running production applications on public cloud infrastructure. As
such, organizations are acutely focused on dynamic scaling, 24×7 availability,
streamlined management and development tools to make the migration
seamless…yet, security seems to be an afterthought or maybe just assumed to be
“locked down” given that the bulk of workloads are at Amazon Web Services,
Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud. Given the brands and heft of these mega tech
companies, how can these clouds possibly not be secure?
high-profile breaches demonstrate that there are inherent risks in the public
cloud. In fact, just moving workloads to these branded cloud providers does NOT
make them more secure at all. It’s clear
that enterprises must ensure their security stack is properly architected for
the cloud. The recent Capital One breach was a shock to the system.
In the case of Capital One, a combination of a tech savvy team and AWS were breached by vulnerabilities that were known and could have been avoided. Does that mean it’s inherently risky to migrate to the cloud? Probably not, but it is clear we need better tools and processes to make this migration secure, scalable and cost-effective.
In this podcast, TCV’s Tim McAdam and Vectra CEO, Hitesh Sheth, talk about what it takes to reduce business risk in the cloud – and keeping enterprises, consumers and their transactions/interactions secure – while capitalizing on the tremendous opportunities the cloud offers.
For these insights and more, settle back and press play.
Tim McAdam: Welcome to Growth Journeys, a podcast series
from TCV, focused on lessons from the field from entrepreneurs in the TCV
ecosystem. I’m Tim McAdam, General Partner at TCV, and I’m here with Hitesh
Sheth, CEO of Vectra, a leader in applying artificial intelligence to detect
and respond in real time to cyberattacks in the cloud, data center, and
enterprise infrastructures. Hitesh brings a wealth of experience from senior
roles at Aruba, Juniper, and Cisco, that affords him important lessons about
how enterprises can assess and address security as they migrate workloads to
the cloud. These lessons include views on encryption, 5G, and commingled log
data, to name a few. We’re covering all these topics today, but first, thanks
for joining me, Hitesh, and welcome to Growth Journeys.
Hitesh Sheth: Great to be here, Tim. Thank you for having
Tim McAdam: So, let’s start with a relatively simple one,
but probably complicated in its scope. What’s the general state of cloud
Hitesh Sheth: Cloud security today is, in my view, where
Windows used to be circa 1990s. If you go back in time a couple of decades when
Windows started to proliferate, security was really not the first thing that
Microsoft thought about. And at that time, it looked like a pretty complex
setup with multiple operating system versions, different devices on which
Windows was getting deployed, and it felt like it was an endless opportunity
for attackers to leverage.
Now, fast forward to today, and if you look at the cloud
environment, whether you’re dealing with serverless computing, whether you’re
looking at Kubernetes, none of the technologies that are being built for the
cloud have had security at the front end, and by comparison we have a thousand-fold
more complex scenario than we had when Windows started prevailing from a
security point of view.
So, I think the scenario we have right now is that while cloud is
taking off exponentially, the security holes that we are facing are indeed very
Tim McAdam: And how do you think enterprises should
approach assessing their security vulnerabilities as they migrate these
workloads to the cloud?
Hitesh Sheth: One of the most important things that they
should think about very carefully is that whatever strategy they had in place
in their traditional on-prem networks is not the strategy they should deploy
into the cloud. And a good example would be – you think of perimeters when you
think of on-prem networks. So traditional firewalls tend to be the way you
think about security. That already is disappearing in traditional networks, and
that certainly cannot apply when you’re looking at cloud infrastructure.
Now, I think Gartner has come out with a very good synthesis of
how to think about building visibility for next-generation SOCs and they’ve got
this thing called the Triad, and the Triad has three components to it. There is
a SIEM in it. There is NDR, which is network detect and response. And there is
endpoint detect and response, EDR. And logically, if you have those three
technologies in place, then you have the best shot at delivering comprehensive
visibility for the SOC. And the good news there, is that it is independent of
whether you’re in the cloud or on on-prem networks as well.
Tim McAdam: Right. And just for the audience, could you
define what a SIEM is?
Hitesh Sheth: Absolutely. SIEM is security information and event management systems. A vendor example here would be Splunk. When you’re looking at EDR, a vendor example would be CrowdStrike. And then certainly when it comes to NDR, Vectra would be the example in mind.
Tim McAdam: Perfect. So, talk about encryption for a
second and what role encryption will play in securing workloads. And I think
there are probably some schools of thought that say, “Why do you need any
of this stuff if our data’s encrypted?”
Hitesh Sheth: Correct. So, I think there’s good news and bad news in encryption. Let me start with the good news. The good news is that you can indeed encrypt the traffic from say, the endpoint to the edge of the infrastructure, or to the SaaS application. And so, in theory, you are reducing the opportunities for a hacker to break into that workload or into the payload and initiate a cyberattack. So that’s the good news.
However, the reality is that whether you’re dealing with data
centers or you’re dealing with cloud infrastructure, the number of times where
the traffic’s going to get encrypted post the edge of the cloud or the data
center tends to be very, very limited. And therefore, you have the need to
still continuously monitor the inside of the data center or the inside of the
cloud for tracking advance attacks. That’s number one.
But number two what is also probably not fully appreciated is that
encryption is actually a friend for attackers. So, if your device is
compromised, Tim, and then your traffic is encrypted from your device to the
SaaS application, then if I’m the hacker, the chances that somebody’s going to
pick me up really get diminished. Therefore, you know, logically the only way
you can really find those attacks is by looking at the behavior of your device
and how you’re interacting with the application. Therefore, behavioral
approaches become really essential in this scenario.
Tim McAdam: Right. And that begs the question – that
might be a device-specific viewpoint. But how about the data itself? Obviously,
multi-tenant cloud applications have effectively commingled log data or log
data from multiple customers. Is that a limitation or security risk as
enterprises move their workloads to the cloud, and how do enterprises gain
comfort that the integrity of their data will remain intact as they move
workloads to the cloud?
Hitesh Sheth: The reason logs get commingled in the cloud environment – I’ll come back to the point I made earlier. Security is an afterthought in the scenario. The primary objective of doing that is to add efficiency to IT ops. That is the reason why they do that. For a customer, who is adopting cloud services, you have to reconsider the Triad that I described earlier. You have to have a SIEM. You can take this commingled log data and you can have this centralized in one place for analysis purposes.
But, what is really crucial is that you don’t rely on that by
itself. You have to use network detect and response. You have to use endpoint
detect and response. And so, the whole point of that Triad is to give you coverage
in scenarios like the one you just described.
Tim McAdam: Got it. That makes sense. How about trends
around next-gen communications like 5G, for example, and then this whole
mindset of zero trust? How do you see these newer trends enhancing, or frankly,
causing security issues?
Hitesh Sheth: The benefit of 5G is that we, as users, can bypass traditional networks, and with our devices – whether it’s a phone or a tablet – you can go straight to the cloud and order the SaaS application. You don’t have to worry about your traditional network and the security therein. Which is great.
Now, the challenge with that is that you have just now opened up a
direct path into the data without any intermediary layers. So, this is where
zero trust is supposed to come in.
Zero trust is supposed to introduce the notion that unless every
device is authenticated, it should not be trusted. But frankly, it’s a very
simplistic view of security because it essentially says, if Tim on Tim’s phone
is authenticated, then Tim and Tim’s device are now automatically safe. But
what if somebody stole your credentials? And that happens on a daily basis, as
we know. And, therefore, it is not enough to rely on something like zero trust.
You have got to have the right monitoring principles in place in
the cloud itself to ensure that if your credentials are stolen on one end,
you’ve got the right mechanisms to watch for the behavior of the privileged
user in the cloud.
Tim McAdam: Got it. So, let’s talk about responsibility
for a second. I recently read a Gartner report that was talking about degrees
of hand-off points from infrastructure as a service providers, to platform as a
service providers, to SaaS providers. How do you think about this shared responsibility
continuum, and do you see this security responsibility changing over time?
Hitesh Sheth: First of all, I think a lot of companies make the mistake of thinking that the security responsibility is solely the cloud provider’s responsibility. And I think that mistake originates from consumers of SaaS applications.
If you are consuming Salesforce, as an example, I think it’s very
reasonable to expect that Salesforce has taken care of your security
requirements. In theory, that’s generally true. However, if you are the entity
that is actually deploying your applications into the cloud environment, having
that expectation that AWS, Microsoft, Google, have done the same thing is
fundamentally not true.
At the end of the day, the company that’s utilizing cloud
resources is responsible for the security of the network layer, the data on top
of that, the applications, and how people are interacting with those
applications. That responsibility solely resides with the entity that is using
those services. And I think even as cloud providers evolve their security
offerings, it would be a mistake for consumers of those offerings to relinquish
their responsibility back to the cloud provider.
Tim McAdam: So, Hitesh, you can’t pick up the paper today
without reading headlines about the shortage of qualified cybersecurity talent
relative to the size of the problem. This is a massive issue. Why haven’t more
cybersecurity companies adopted an AI/ML framework like Vectra’s given the
obvious dearth of humans in the sector?
Hitesh Sheth: I actually think, Tim, that a lot of security vendors are talking about AI today. It’s become one of the pain points for customers, where AI has evolved into a buzzword from vendors, and they talk about it all the time.
The issue fundamentally is that the vendors are approaching this
completely wrong, in my view. Even for investors, as they think about investing
in companies that are touting AI, the principle of generalized AI simply does
not work. Generalized AI equals a human being. And AI is not advanced enough,
from a software point of view, to repeat what a human being would do in
technology. So, the notion of applied AI is really key here. Applied AI does
work as evidenced from the work that we do at Vectra.
And I think the key there is you cannot just take AI by itself. If
it’s application-specific, then domain becomes very critical. And one of the
early epiphanies that we had in our journey here is that as we experimented
with generalized AI, and frankly we made mistakes with that. And what struck us
very quickly was that, “Hey, you need security domain, you’ve got to have
security domain paired up with AI for this to work.” If I’m a customer, I would
be testing for that every single day before accepting a vendor’s word that
their tech is actually going to work in my environment. Otherwise, it’s the
person behind the curtain actually doing the work, not the software.
Tim McAdam: Right. Well, thank you for making all those
generalized AI mistakes before we invested, Hitesh.
Hitesh Sheth: And, yes, we did that in the first few years, Tim, as you know well, but if you don’t make mistakes, you don’t learn. And we are much better off as a result.
Tim McAdam: So lastly, at a recent offsite, one of my
partners floated the concept of via negativa, or addition by subtraction, as it
related to our business model as investors. That is to say, focus on fewer,
more high-impact investment themes or investment types by not focusing on
others. Hitesh, should via negativa apply to streamlining the security posture
of enterprises as they think about moving to the cloud?
Hitesh Sheth: I think it’s an absolutely fantastic principle for how you think about where you invest in infrastructure broadly and certainly in security, because as we all know, security is rife with a plethora of technologies and vendors pitching the next-greatest tool to customers every single day. Yet, paradigms have evolved very, very rapidly.
So for example, if I am building something from ground up, a
customer should ask themselves, why do they really need a firewall? For what
purpose? If I have EDR on my endpoint, if I have the right setup for monitoring
my workloads in the cloud, what role does a firewall really play? What role
does a perimeter play? If you want to save your dollars, OpEx or CapEx, I’ll
put something bold out there and say, eliminate the firewall. I would challenge
somebody to do that. And then provided they are actually following the SOC
Triad – be religious about implementing the SOC Triad.
Do that first and then question the need for spend on anything
else next. That’s the approach – that’s how via negativa can apply to security
Tim McAdam: That is bold. I like it. Hitesh, thanks for
joining us today.
Hitesh Sheth: Thanks very much, Tim, really appreciate it.
TEMECULA, Calif., Aug. 12, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Perceptyx, the employee survey and people analytics platform that helps companies transform the way they leverage their people data to drive business success, today announced it has received a significant investment from TCV, one of the largest growth equity firms backing public and private technology companies. The investment and expertise from TCV will help fuel Perceptyx’s rapid growth through product innovations for current and future customers, positioning the company to build upon its market-leading people analytics platform. As part of this investment, Nari Ansari (General Partner, TCV) and Dave Eichler (Vice President, TCV) will join the Perceptyx Board of Directors.
Founded in 2003, Perceptyx provides deep insights into an organization’s people, giving leaders the data and insight they need to improve the employee experience, predict challenges in the business, and drive strategic action to deliver improved business performance.
“This is an exciting moment in Perceptyx’s history. For over 16 years we have been on a mission to help people and organizations thrive, and the partnership with TCV is evidence of the value that our customers continue to derive from our platform,” said John Borland, CEO of Perceptyx. “TCV has a history of investing in category-redefining companies, and their partnership reaffirms our culture of innovation, off-the-charts customer retention, and the increasing demand for a more integrated approach to talent analytics in driving business strategy and operations.”
Advancements in machine learning and the growing volume and availability of business and people data continue to fuel increased demand for deeper talent insights that enable Human Resources (HR) to be more strategic partners to the business. While the global Human Capital Management (HCM) market size is expected to reach US$22.6 billion by the end of 2025 (a 7.6% CAGR), the 2018-2019 Sierra-Cedar HR Systems Survey found that 41% of CHROs plan to increase spending on Talent Analytics in particular, further indicating that the Talent Analytics market is heating up.
“Perceptyx’s history of building a best-in-class product as well as their strong customer focus has the team well positioned to capitalize on the enormous and growing opportunity within the HCM space. We are very excited to partner with the Perceptyx team to help them reach their full potential,” said Dave Eichler, Vice President at TCV.
Since TCV’s inception in 1995, the firm has raised over $15 billion across ten funds and invested over $12 billion in leading technology companies. TCV investments include notable franchises such as Netflix, Facebook, Expedia, Spotify, Airbnb, Peloton, Splunk, and Zillow – and they have partnered with leading cloud / SaaS software companies, such as Avalara, ExactTarget, Alarm.com, HireVue, GoDaddy, Twilio, Toast, Webroot, and Xero.
“TCV partners with companies we believe are leaders within their market vertical,” said Nari Ansari, General Partner at TCV. “We have been watching Perceptyx closely for quite some time and have been impressed with their consistent growth and amazing track record within the Fortune 1000. We look forward to supporting the team as they embark on their next phase of growth.”
The investment from TCV is particularly significant for Perceptyx in that it represents the first external investment since its founding in 2003. Entirely self-funded and profitable from its inception, Perceptyx has fueled its own growth through a relentless focus on product innovation and client satisfaction, achieving greater than 95% client retention. As the people analytics provider to over 30% of the Fortune 100, experiencing accelerated growth, Perceptyx is poised to further its growth and expansion through the partnership.
About Perceptyx Since its founding in 2003, Perceptyx has been revolutionizing the employee survey and people analytics industry, delivering enterprise-level employee surveys and people analytics to more than 30% of the Fortune 100. With an unrivaled technology platform and a tailor-made, flexible approach, the Perceptyx technology makes it easy for managers and HR or business leaders to discover insights deep within large and complex organizations, driving meaningful action to improve business outcomes. Driven by a deep intellectual curiosity and culture of innovation, Perceptyx is challenging the status quo – to help people and organizations thrive.
About TCV Founded in 1995, TCV provides capital to growth-stage private and public companies in the technology industry. TCV has invested over $12 billion in leading technology companies and has helped guide CEOs through more than 120 IPOs and strategic acquisitions. TCV’s software investments include Alarm.com, Altiris, Ariba, Avalara, Avetta, AxiomSL, CCC Information Services, ExactTarget, ETQ, FinancialForce, Genesys, IQMS, OSIsoft, Rapid7, Rave Mobile Safety, Sitecore, SMT, Splunk, Toast, Vectra AI, and more. TCV is headquartered in Menlo Park, California, with offices in New York and London. For more information about TCV, including a complete list of TCV investments, please visit http://www.tcv.com.
SOURCE: Perceptyx, Inc.
Perceptyx Daniel Norwood Phone: 951.526.2422 firstname.lastname@example.org
When Beth Grous joined TripAdvisor as Chief People Officer, the popular travel platform was growing rapidly, with 40+ locations around the world. Beth quickly moved to develop Human Resources (HR) as a strategic partner for business functions, so that the team’s initiatives would more directly support company objectives. In this first part of a two-part conversation, Beth talks with TCV GP Nari Ansari about how she re-oriented her team for business partnership. She also explains how her team manages the employee journey within TripAdvisor as strategically as the company manages its customer journeys, so that recruiting and retaining talent is both systematic and flexible for an increasingly diverse workforce.
Nari Ansari: First off Beth, I really appreciate you
taking the time to chat with us. It was great seeing you at TCV’s East Coast CHRO
event in New York with portfolio company people and talent leaders. We had some
great conversations and wanted to share a few topics with a broader audience.
Beth Grous: Absolutely. Great to speak again.
Nari Ansari: Let’s dive right in, starting with
TripAdvisor. What does the company do?
Beth Grous: I think most people who have traveled, or
know someone that’s traveled, are familiar with TripAdvisor. We are the world’s
largest travel platform. We help about 490 million travelers every month plan,
book, and get excited about having the best trip of their life. We’re a global
website, and we also have a mobile app that helps travelers browse more than
three-quarters of a billion reviews and opinions on over eight million
restaurants, accommodations, experiences, airlines, cruises, and so on.
Nari Ansari: When did you join? What motivated you to
Beth Grous: I joined TripAdvisor in September of 2015.
I’ve been a review writing member on the TripAdvisor platform since 2006 so I
was a long-time consumer of the brand and loved it. When I got the call about
the job, I thought that it would be a unique opportunity for me to take the HR
skills, experience and capabilities that I had, and intersect them with a
consumer brand that I have a lot of passion for.
Around the same time frame there was an increasing recognition
at TripAdvisor that with 2,500 employees, and the company growing globally, we
really needed to elevate the people function to work in partnership with the
CEO to execute more strategically against our business and talent priorities. And
so that was very exciting for me as well, thinking about the potential impact I
Nari Ansari: Absolutely. You’re titled Chief People
Officer, so what areas fall under your responsibility?
Beth Grous: That’s a great question, because my job
description is perhaps a little different than most heads of HR.
Chief People Officer, I have all the traditional HR domains:
rewards (compensation and benefits) and HR systems
acquisition (our recruiting engine)
and organizational development
diversity, and inclusion
In addition to those more typical functions, I have a few
other areas of responsibility, including our global real estate portfolio and office
experience for our 40+ offices worldwide, and our social impact function, which
is a combination of both our TripAdvisor Charitable Foundation and our employee
volunteerism and giving activities.
Nari Ansari: Since you became Chief People Officer,
how have you established the HR team as a business partner to the rest of the
organization? What steps did you take, what lessons did you learn as you
industrialized the function, and what advice would you have for other HR
leaders of growing tech companies out there?
Beth Grous: When I joined, I looked around and I
said, “There are some places where we have real strengths, and some places
where we need to fill in some blanks.” Probably the biggest shift we made
was to build out an HR business partner (HRBP) function – we wanted to shift a
portion of our team from being more focused on tactical day-to-day priorities
to taking a pro-active focus towards business objectives and working with their
counterparts throughout the organization. That shift in focus meant that some
people stepped up to develop their skills and to work differently. Other team
members transitioned out of the organization and, also importantly, we had a
few members join from the business side.
It was a significant shift to staff and organize this HR business
Nari Ansari: That’s an impressive shift. Tell us a
bit more about the role and skill set of HR business partners.
Beth Grous: The members of our HRBP team are expected
to have a deep understanding of the business—financials, strategy, and how each
business function aligns and interacts to execute against those objectives. I
encourage the HRBP team to frame their day-to-day work by asking the question:
“How am I working with people at all levels of the organization to help drive
the business forward?” Much of this learning happens on the job—and our
business leaders are very supportive of sharing their expertise. It has been an
important shift for us, because with this knowledge and understanding, they can
then support the business most effectively: defining the right organizational
structure to support strategy, ensuring that we are hiring and developing a
diverse and talented group of employees across the organization, and aligning
rewards, as some examples.
I am fortunate that I work for a CEO and with an executive
team who greatly values the input of our people and human capital team on
matters not just related to HR domain areas, but also matters related to the
overall business. This has been exciting and fulfilling for me and my team.
Nari Ansari: That’s great. I think what’s top of mind
for many company leaders and talent leaders is retaining exceptional talent.
You talked a bit at our recent TCV CHRO event that TripAdvisor very
methodically thinks through, manages, and monitors the customer journey and
that you and your team symmetrically are methodically thinking through,
managing, and monitoring the employee journey as well. Can you talk a little
bit more about what that looks like for your 3,600 plus TripAdvisor team members
today spread across 40+ offices?
Beth Grous: I’m going to make an obvious statement
here. If you retain and engage more of your workforce, you have less of a need
to recruit people…
Beth Grous: We
recognize that those two things sit in a very healthy and logical balance. We
also recognize that turnover in and of itself is painful. You lose
institutional knowledge. It’s disruptive to teams. It slows throughput. It
slows innovation. We’re only as good as the people that we have working in the
right teams and right configurations to execute against our business objective.
We think a lot about how to make TripAdvisor a great place to work, to
encourage not only retention, but also to drive engagement and satisfaction. Just
like our sales team thinks about the “customer first”, we think about how we
can put our employees first. That also means that we are taking their views
into account, so it’s not just about delivering “HR services” to our employees
but having a dialogue with them. This aligns with our brand, which is all about
transparency and providing honest and constructive feedback. For example, we know
that what makes a company a great place to work likely means different things
to different people. To someone early in their career, that might mean, “I
get to have a lot of different experiences and I’m promoted pretty
rapidly.” To someone in a different phase of life or with different
interests or needs, that might be that an individual wants a lot of flexibility
in terms of the hours when they work or the places where they work. We
encourage flexibility, and we also have office spaces with many different
places where people can get away from their desks if that helps them work more
effectively. We think about our workforce just like TripAdvisor (and many
consumer-facing companies) think about their customers, recognizing that one
size doesn’t fit all. That does not mean that we can necessarily be all things
to all people—but we try hard to listen, learn, and discern what’s most
important to our workforce, and meet our employees’ needs, as long as it makes
sense for the business.
I believe that there are some things that transcend all
employees, regardless of role, experience or tenure. Employees want to come to
work at a place where they understand the business objectives, they understand
the strategy, and they know their role, how their role ladders up to executing
against that strategy. So as a company, we spend a ton of time being
transparent about those elements – we do that through company town halls,
through company meetings and through various forms of communication.
Communication is so important, and I don’t think we can ever do enough of it
internally! We’ve found it critical for our employees to understand the
business context and importantly, how they fit into that context, so that they
can be most successful—and therefore we can be most successful as a company.
Nari Ansari: That makes a lot of sense. I
do think that having a much more rigorous multi-faceted view of your employee
base is becoming critical for companies of all sizes and in all
industries. And I also think open communication across the organization
is important, particularly when it feels like change is the only constant these
Another trend – and transition – we are seeing is that HR is
becoming more tech and data driven to deliver on human capital and business
goals. We’ll talk more about this in a follow-up Q&A and address other
topics that are top of mind for today’s HR professionals and tech companies,
including HR’s role in successfully executing acquisitions. Thanks so much for
sharing your thoughts with us, and I look forward to our next conversation.
Beth Grous: My pleasure!
The statements, views, and
opinions expressed are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect
those of TCMI, Inc. or its affiliates (“TCV”). TCV has not verified the
accuracy of any statements by the speakers and disclaims any responsibility
therefor. This interview is not an offer to sell or the solicitation of an
offer to purchase an interest in any private fund managed or sponsored by TCV
or any of the securities of any company discussed. The TCV portfolio companies
identified, if any, are not necessarily representative of all TCV investments
and no assumption should be made that the investments identified were or will
be profitable. For a complete list of TCV investments, please visit www.tcv.com/all-companies. For additional important disclaimers,
available at http://www.tcv.com/terms-of-use/.
The opportunity set for SaaS is on the rise. The original SaaS model that revolutionized software is now enabling SMB and vertical SaaS companies to evolve from tool companies to market makers. Pioneers of these new SaaS models not only provide a tech platform to service providers, but also strengthen their position by extending into marketplaces. When these providers aggregate enough supply, they leverage their data and mindshare advantages to create two-sided marketplaces that enjoy powerful network effects. The result is a much stronger financial profile, deeper moats, and a significantly larger TAM.
TCV recently hosted an offsite focused on emerging trends that we believe are dramatically expanding the opportunity set and economic strength of vertical and SMB SaaS companies.
We were fortunate to have Brian Rothenberg as a speaker. Before joining a leading new early stage venture firm Defy as a Partner, Brian was on the leadership team that took Eventbrite from startup through IPO – while evolving the company from a SaaS platform for event venues to a marketplace for live experiences.
In this conversation with John Burke, EVP at TCV, Brian explains the steps and structures necessary to accomplish this strategic transformation and reach scale. He also offers priceless tips on timing and managing relationships with original SaaS clients that leaders can apply as they focus on dramatically expanding their addressable markets.
To talk about SaaS opportunities and get a copy of the presentation, please contact John Burke or Katja Gagen at TCV.