Chris Mahl: I have to say that Informatica, for those of you who know, they were just acquired for about five billion dollars in private, which I joined in 1995 as one of 20 people. So there was minus nine customers, there was zero revenue and I have to say I’m going to share two perspectives on what I was most proud of.
Chris Mahl: One is we grew that, we took that public profitably over the next five and a half years, built it from the ground up with great people, great passion, define the market, own that market. And so I’m certainly proud of all those achievements from a sales/marketing perspective, but what I’m really proud of is when the bubble bursts we were one of the only companies to actually truly grow during that nuclear time we grew the company 10% with no revenue.
Chris Mahl: If you take the whole software category and you look at real returns in that particular year which is roughest in the tech industry, that was a pretty amazing achievements. So it’s actually that, I love the IPO don’t get me wrong, but building it from a garage of 20 with Groap, Diaz and Mark Burton who’s now on the board of Mongodb and tremendous executives but it was actually sailing the ship through the tough storm that I’m most proud of. So I’d say that.
Chris Mahl: I have to say that after that I went to Salesforce and I was there for just about four years leading a bulk of sales and strategic sales. I have to say the early milestones I’m most proud of was the teams who I worked with who closed the first 400 seed deal. At the time when I joined it was 50 and 40 and Kevin was there and the board was curious so that would have been AOL with a fellow named Greg Brown and his team in the southeast. Wow we can do 400 and shortly thereafter there was the Sungard deal which was 1,000 seeds.
Chris Mahl: Common at the Sales Force at that time, an on demand model trusting 1,000 people to put all my customer data in the cloud, not happening. And that was actually Eric Poley who actually works for me now, it runs outside sales now through JW Player so Eric they do a tremendous job and great work with Mark on that.
Chris Mahl: The following year, the first 2,000 seed deal so these were 6 million dollar plus deals- unheard of. Nobody does this with on demand and SunGard was the big bag in the Southeast and the ADP. Teams are all part of my organization so these major milestones really made the industry say this is real. Everything up until then wasn’t real so I have to say those.
Chris Mahl: Up to where I am now, certainly Right Media don’t get me wrong Right Media was a remarkable run, really brilliant. Guys like Mike Walrath had an amazing model going I just helped scale it before Yahoo purchased it. Seven months to a year there, did I play role definitely. Was the course set, clearly- these guys innovated on the exchange model and really understood how to create that and I loved being a part of that.
Chris Mahl: But I have to say right now which is JWPlayer and the present folks on the commercialisation and scaling of the business. When I joined with some great founders, you know the company had done well, huge footprint but relatively small commercial presence. We doubled that business year over year with phenomenal innovation, recreating the market, recreating the value there. If I look Informatica sort of the first you know I was at Oracle for over five and a half years, informatica was the first true start up.
Chris Mahl: The founders Gaurav and Diaz Nesamoney had really studied the problem they were solving and they had a unique answer, and it was a problem that the market wrestled with in weird ways. This was the enterprise, analytics, data warehousing which was really nascent at that time. They solved a unique problem which gave us a lot of differentiation.
Chris Mahl: That’s different than sort of the quarter to quarter building the business. There was actually a lesson I learned there that was handed to me and this was really from a guy named Dave Pidwell which he’s retired now, I think he owns half of Hawaii. Guys who used to work for him founded Ariba he’s a tremendous man but he taught us a way to organize ourselves as executives committed to each other and be real time about it, sort of week to week, month to month.
Chris Mahl: It was really simply, at the end of each week we’d share a brief communication to each other around key metrics and needs and asks of each other. So this executive dialogue that went from sales to marketing, product engineering, to finance, to CEO was a very vibrant muscle from the beginning and it’s the lasting lesson I still use.
Chris Mahl: The idea was we got something week to week, month to month so that was actually a lesson that I was taught and got the benefit from in Informatica. I will say that we all have personality types, well lesson learned is what’s your personality type. Ultimately folks have heard the sales background conflicts and everybody’s type but when you’re inside the walls of a company you can be the driver and it should be, you are the number. In a sense to the board, to the public market you’re a number so you want to organize people, and concepts and execution to achieve that number and ultimately making that happen.
Chris Mahl: At Informatica I got a nickname which was brought to me by the sales teams which was The Edge. It’s not because of my remarkable guitar skills, it’s because of the amount of pressure I would bring to people objectively with support. It was a joke they could make to me so that I was approachable but I learned from that a little bit.
Chris Mahl: I used to think about it am I pushing them to the edge to be productive or over the edge where they become unproductive. There’s a real good lesson for everybody, I’d actually say in today’s world a lot of CEOs who have an idea and maybe not a lot of management background to be honest, developing people is a skill. It’s not natural maybe 10% of the time and acquired maybe 90% of the time in my experience.
Chris Mahl: I can encourage new CEOs, younger CEOs to think about that dynamic and get a mentor. I know we’ll talk about that who might be very good at that sort of really be able to reflect on that for you. We need people to hire to increase productivity, nirvana leading them there where they’re exciting and doing it themselves- brilliance. That’s not that easy at this scale. Being The Edge, have a driver personality, backing them up a little bit and bringing people up the productivity curve, definite valuable lesson.