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Bootstrapping to $200 Million: Jorn Lyseggen, CEO of Meltwater (Part 7)

Posted on Monday, Aug 31st 2015

Sramana Mitra: What is the geographical center of gravity of the company? Is it still Norwegian?

Jorn Lyseggen: The center of gravity of the company is San Francisco. We moved to the US in 2005. I personally moved to the US in 2005. My management team is distributed all over the world. The organization is distributed in 50 offices on six continents. We are in all major economic centers of the world. In Asia, we are in Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and New Delhi. We are also in the Middle East and South Africa. We are all over Europe, of course. In North America, we have 17 offices spread across Canada and US. We also have a handful of offices in Latin America.

Sramana Mitra: Where are you now in terms of revenue level?

Jorn Lyseggen: We don’t publicly disclose that but we are approaching $200 million.

Sramana Mitra: You’re still a self-financed company?

Jorn Lyseggen: Yes, we are still primarily employee-owned. We took a little bit of capital at the end of 2012 because we were in the process of trying to buy a large public company. We brought on board a private equity firm to help us do that.

Sramana Mitra: What do you want to do with the company? Do you want to take it public? Do you want to sell it?

Jorn Lyseggen: People always ask me this, “You have been at this for so long now. You must be tired.” My response is, “I’m actually as excited and as invigorated as in the early days.” We’ve just seen the first chapter of what Meltwater is going to do. The world is changing at such a rapid pace. I believe that the space that we are working in has tremendous potential. We are in the process of launching completely new generations of products. I believe this space that we are attacking is actually going to be a completely new software category. What BI is for internal data, I believe there will be a new software category for external data.

The logic that we look at this with is that internal data are often really historic and lagging data. For example, your financial reports. What you see in your financial reports are the end results of things that took place many quarters and years ago. If you try to run your business looking at your financial report, it’s like driving a car looking in the rear-view mirror. We believe that in order for you to have a better appreciation for what is going to come ahead of you, you need to pay much more attention to external data than what executives do today.

We believe that external data and the wealth of business insights that you find in external data is a major blind spot for corporate decision making today. In the future, that will be a new and important software category that is as central to decision making as CRM and financial systems today.

Sramana Mitra: What is the penetration of your product into your target customer base? Are you targeting Fortune 500? Global 2000? What is the target and how much penetration have you achieved so far?

Jorn Lyseggen: Initially, the target was medium-sized companies. Over the years, it turns out that a lot of large companies also behave a little like medium-sized companies in different countries. If you look at Fortune 500, we have more than 50% of them. Not necessarily as a global account but, at least, clients in the countries that we are present in. We have clients like Coca Cola, Apple, Google, IBM, Nike. We also have political parties. I used to joke that everyone from the Pope to Coca Cola is a client.

A wide range of organizations can benefit from this service. From a penetration perspective, more than 50% of Fortune 500 are clients. What we are taking out of these clients in terms of revenue is very limited today. What is important is the deeper engagement that we can create with all of these clients once they move from looking at external data as technical and nice-to-have to strategic and something that executives and the Board need to have.

Sramana Mitra: Terrific. It’s great to see that you bootstrapped the company to $200 million. We love stories like these.

This segment is part 7 in the series : Bootstrapping to $200 Million: Jorn Lyseggen, CEO of Meltwater
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