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Can You Do It All? BlackLine CEO Therese Tucker (Part 5)

Posted on Friday, Sep 17th 2010

SM: What happened in 2004 when your competitor started out and you were running out of cash?

TT: I wanted to quit a thousand times. I would wake up at 1 a.m. just worrying about the money and payroll. We cut people but still had a $50,000 payroll. I would call my friends from SunGard and ask for $30,000 loans.

SM: Do you have the better product?

TT: Yes, we do. We are able to design software which is intuitive and easy to use. That is not an easy skill to acquire, but it is something I really enjoy. We have very good odds of beating them in the market any time we come up against them.

We have also migrated to a SaaS model. That is a tremendous competitive advantage. Corporate financial data is confidential, so we do use a SAS 70 certified data center and our product is SAS 70 certified. Getting companies comfortable with having their accounting information outside of their firewall took some time, but we almost never see opposition to that now. When we lay out an in-house analysis versus a SaaS analysis, and we illustrate how secure our environment is, companies become very interested in the SaaS model.

We can also guarantee companies do not buy shelfware. We recently had a very large corporation sign on as a client who had bought our competitor’s software two years ago. They had never used it. With SaaS you purchase what you use and if you need more then you purchase more. It is a no-risk proposition. We give people a thirty-day out and a very direct, honest sales method.

Now the company is growing, and I have to make sure we scale properly. I have to make sure we have the right people and processes in place to grow gracefully. We have sixty people right now and twenty-one job openings.

SM: What do your revenue numbers look like now?

TT: We did a shade under $7 million last year. We should close in on $10 million this year.

SM: Is your revenue mostly from large or mid-sized companies?

TT: I would say that perhaps half of our revenue is from large companies. We have over 250 clients now, and I believe we have sixty of the Fortune 500. We are having some nice headway with that.

SM: Who is your competitor today? Just that one company?

TT: It is the same product, but the company has already gotten rid of my former VP of sales who created that offering. Oracle is now trying to build something, which has not been a bad thing either. They stir up the business for us.

SM: Do you still own the company 100%?

TT: Not at all. Mario started the day that my head of sales threw a temper tantrum and walked out and is utterly brilliant and capable. I ended up selling him some stock. We also did a 35% option pool. I still own a majority. Our company is entirely employee owned.

SM: Going through the financial strains, running out of money, and wondering how to meet payroll really teaches you some fundamental things about business.

TT: It sure taught me not to overspend. I cashed in my 401(k), I took a second mortgage on my house, and I would have gone into my children’s college funds if I could have figured out how to get at it. Everything went into the company and there were no nest eggs left. I had no savings or retirement. I wanted to see the company succeed.

This segment is part 5 in the series : Can You Do It All? BlackLine CEO Therese Tucker
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