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Building a Fat SaaS Venture: Rob Hull, Founder and President of Adaptive Insights (Part 2)

Posted on Thursday, May 1st 2014

Sramana: What timeframe does that bring us to?

Rob Hull: That brings us up to 1999. Our CEO had decided he was going to be leaving and the world was moving quickly outside of RMS. The Internet was going strong and the dot com boom was going in full force. I looked around and realized that I had a good run at RMS. I worked with fantastic people and it was a fantastic company to be a part of. I decided I was ready to look for a new challenge so I left RMS at the end of 1999.

In early 2000 I left RMS and joined LoopNet which is an online cloud marketplace for real estate. A good friend of mine had gone there and brought me over. I spent about 2 years there. We went from the boom years to the dot com bust. That put us in the middle of 2001 and 2002 when businesses were very concerned with survival. LoopNet did very well in that process. I helped orchestrate an acquisition of one of LoopNets competitors during that timeframe.

One of the things that we had done at RMS was introduce subscription pricing back when that was not common. I saw a lot of value in that recurring revenue model during my time at RMS. LoopNet introduce me to cloud based delivery of solutions in a broad way using a subscription model.

After a few years, I decided it was time to look for a new challenge. I looked back at my lessons learned from RMS and LoopNet and decided the next move would be to join a technology spinout from Stanford that I hoped would look and feel a lot like RMS. That company was ChemTracker.

Sramana: When did you join ChemTracker?

Rob Hull: I joined in 2002. The economy was not doing all that great. Unfortunately while ChemTracker was an interesting idea, it did not have a large market and it was trying to spin out at the wrong time. I helped sell that company back into Stanford University.

At that time, I started to notice a lot of what I termed ‘walking dead companies’. They were companies that were funded in the dot com boom and were not yet dead, but they were not really generating any substantial business. I decided that I would set up a consulting CFO practice. I began to work with many venture backed companies as a part-time CFO.

During that phase of my career, I began to realize how big the need for good business management from a CFO perspective was. The technology for that was lacking. The main technology was Excel and that was really lacking. Companies were resource constrained so getting into something as powerful as the top end tools was very much a challenge for startups. That laid the foundation for Adaptive Planning, which became Adaptive Insights.

This segment is part 2 in the series : Building a Fat SaaS Venture: Rob Hull, Founder and President of Adaptive Insights
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