AxiomSL: A Fintech Franchise Takes Off

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.”


Mambu Raises €110 Million in Funding Round Led by TCV

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.”

About Mambu

​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 TwitterLinkedInYouTube and​ ​Facebook.

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 $2.5 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/

Contacts

Media Contacts:
For Mambu US/Canada
Anna Stanley
251.517.7857
anna@williammills.com

For Mambu UK/Europe
Stephanie Libous
stephanie.libous@allisonpr.com
+44 7751 597 558

For TCV
Katja Gagen
+1 415.690.6689
kgagen@tcv.com


Selling Success: Secrets of Sales Leadership from Planning and Recruiting to Enduring Customer Satisfaction

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.

***

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 are not an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any private fund managed or sponsored by TCV or any of the securities of any company discussed. The TCV portfolio companies identified, if any, are not necessarily representative of all TCV investments, and no assumption should be made that the investments identified were or will be profitable. For a complete list of TCV investments, please visit www.tcv.com/all-companies/. For additional important disclaimers regarding this interview and blog post, please see “Informational Purposes Only” in the Terms of Use for TCV’s website, available at http://www.tcv.com/terms-of-use/.


Wealthsimple announces CAD $114 million investment led by TCV to transform financial services in Canada

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/.

SOURCE Wealthsimple

For further information:
Wealthsimple
Sarah Pattillo, spattillo@wealthsimple.com, 416-567-7844

TCV
Katja Gagen, kgagen@tcv.com, 1-415-690-6689

Related Links

https://www.wealthsimple.com/

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


FULL POTENTIAL SAAS

We believe that SaaS vendors, particularly vertical and SMB, that provide a “system of record” are seeing massive increases in TAM, competitive moats, and economic opportunity. By extending and leveraging their workflow, data, and account ownership, SaaS vendors are delighting end customers while creating platform and networks.

With 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.

Finally, I 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.

Special thanks to my co-authors John Burke, Katja Gagen, and Payam Vadi from TCV as well as Tim Barash, Kevin Burke, Henrique Dubugras, Mike Ford, Marc Fredman, Noah Glass, Andrew Low Ah Kee, Ara Mahdessian, David McJannet, Aman Narang, Sankar Narayan, Githesh Ramamurthy, Jason Randall, Bob Solomon, Connor Theilmann, Dan Wernikoff, and Dai Williams for great insight and support in creating this framework to date. We’ve also learned a ton from working with great management teams in the TCV portfolio[1] as well as across a broad network of friends.

Lead the Category

This phase of the SaaS strategy is well understood so I won’t spend much time on it. A SaaS company aspires to:

  1. build a great product (and service)
  2. over time, build an efficient and repeatable go-to-market model (marketing -> sales -> onboarding)
  3. and then “add capital” and execution to press its advantage against sluggish incumbents or poorly capitalized competitors

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 over time.
  • 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 the Beast

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!”

One 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

This is 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! 

Pragmatically, 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”:

  • Workflow 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.
  • Data 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.
  • Account gravity – 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.

Winning the 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
  • “SaaS as a Platform and SaaS as Network” opportunities
  • 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. 

Another recent 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 rate.

Expand Headroom

With 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 Chain

This stage 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:

  • Increased TAM
  • Workflow that spans multiple parties and creates increased customer value and vendor stickiness
  • Two-level network effects

Supplier

Extension 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.

Employee

The employee 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 network effects.

Consumer

The 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.

That said, success stories of extending SaaS to Consumer are rare. Few SaaS companies have consumer product DNA, the funds, or the skills to build a consumer brand. While a SaaS provider can have a high market share of merchants in a vertical, it’s rare that it has the supply ubiquity that an online marketplace would require. Eventbrite is one of the few companies that has landed as a software tool for creators, built liquidity, and created a marketplace.

Some derivative Consumer monetization models include:

  • 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.

The biggest 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.

Deepen Functionality/ Monetization

Deepen Functionality/Monetization doesn’t literally mean waiting to pursue this step until all other strategies have been completed. It’s more a reflection of priorities. Acquire as many customers as you can, win the control points, and you will likely have many of these profit pools locked up to pursue in the future.

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 products.

Another key 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 purchases.

Every 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 biggest payoffs.

Summary

If 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 of SaaS.”  

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.

Caveats

  • 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.

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

[1] See TCV’s SMB and Vertical SaaS investments at the end of the document.


Is the Cloud Safe? – The View from Vectra on Reducing Business Risk as Enterprises Aggressively Move to the Public Cloud

Digital 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?

Recent 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 me.

Tim McAdam: So, let’s start with a relatively simple one, but probably complicated in its scope. What’s the general state of cloud security today?

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 profound.

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 spend.

Tim McAdam: That is bold. I like it. Hitesh, thanks for joining us today.

Hitesh Sheth: Thanks very much, Tim, really appreciate it.

***

The views and opinions expressed are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of TCMI, Inc. or its affiliates (“TCV”). TCV has not verified the accuracy of any statements by the speakers and disclaims any responsibility therefor. This blog post is not an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any private fund managed or sponsored by TCV or any of the securities of any company discussed. The TCV portfolio companies identified above, 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 document, please see “Informational Purposes Only” in the Terms of Use for TCV’s website, available at http://www.tcv.com/terms-of-use/.


Perceptyx Announces Strategic Investment From TCV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SOURCE: Perceptyx, Inc.

Media Contacts:

Perceptyx
Daniel Norwood
Phone: 951.526.2422
dnorwood@perceptyx.com

TCV
Katja Gagen
Phone: 415.690.6689
kgagen@tcv.com


TripAdvisor: Elevating People Functions to Business Partnership

Part 1: Aligning HR with Business Strategy

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 jump onboard?

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 could have.

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.

As Chief People Officer, I have all the traditional HR domains:

  • HR business partners
  • Total rewards (compensation and benefits) and HR systems
  • Talent acquisition (our recruiting engine)
  • Learning and organizational development
  • Equity, 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 partner team.

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…

Nari Ansari: Right.

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 days.

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!

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


Webinar: Evolving from SaaS to Marketplace: Key Lessons for Tech Leaders in Making the Jump

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.

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 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 https://www.tcv.com/all-companies/. For additional important disclaimers, please see “Informational Purposes Only” in the Terms of Use for TCV’s website, available at https://www.tcv.com/terms-of-use/.