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From Zero to a Market Cap Bigger than General Motors: Keith Krach, Founder of Ariba (Part 7)

Posted on Sunday, Jan 20th 2019

Keith Krach: We followed the same path. At Ariba, we focused initially on the buyers. At DocuSign, we focused on the businesses or the consumers. On the DocuSign Global Trust Network, about 400 million consumers are putting on two million documents a day and well in excess of 430,000 companies have standardized. We ran the same play.

We wanted to be in stealth mode longer in terms of being a private company. We raised a lot more money. We ended up getting equity investments from the most powerful tech companies in the world – SAP, Microsoft, Google, Salesforce, Intel, Dell, Telstra, and even FedEx. We created that ecosystem of partners.

That value proposition was extremely quantifiable just like Ariba’s was. Then we created the industry standard. When you’re building a network, you do three things. You maximize the number of nodes, which are really the members. You reduce the friction between the nodes and that’s done by ease-of-use and trust. The third thing you do is, you add value to each of those nodes. We took DocuSign public in April.

Sramana Mitra: DocuSign is a company that we’ve been covering for a long time. We have a tech stocks coverage that is syndicated. We know DocuSign very well. Let me ask you a specific question about DocuSign. Do you think the growth of a DocuSign kind of company will be purely on the basis of the same product on which the company has come this far or is it going to be a portfolio of products going forward?

Keith Krach: We’re expanding that. We just did an acquisition of SpringCM. We’ve got all kinds of partnerships. Just the electronic signature market alone is estimated at $25 billion.

Sramana Mitra: Yes, it’s a big market.

Keith Krach: We’re expanding from there. DocuSign stands for one thing. It’s trust. We’re dealing with people’s most important documents. Everybody goes, “It’s just so easy to use.” In terms of availability, security, and enforceability, that’s really key. That’s where we’ve made the big investments.

Sramana Mitra: Now that you’re done with DocuSign, what are you going to do next?

Keith Krach: It’s ‘Give back and pay it forward’. The thing that I’m doing right now is taking what I learned at DocuSign and Ariba and building a virtual mentor network. It’s not for monetary gain. It’s to develop the next generation of transformational leaders because we need them in this world. The pace of change is accelerating. We need leaders to lead that change. The world is becoming more segmented. Even the ideals and morals of democracy are under threat and being challenged.

I really believe a transformation leader is somebody who challenges the status quo by unifying a team of people for a noble cause that has profound and far-reaching impact. One thing that I do believe about transformational leadership is that this stuff’s not written in a book. The best way to learn is OPE, or other people’s experiences. What we’ve done is we’ve put together some of the great transformational leaders who are willing to talk about their fears and their failures. That’s where you’ll learn the most.

The other thing I believe is to develop your skills, you need multiple mentors. I call it the mentor matrix. We are just beginning to release our pilot series. Later on, I’ve got the women lined up. One of them is Kim Hammonds who was the COO of Deutsche and CIO of Boeing. That’s my passion of building that network.

Sramana Mitra: It’s a pleasure talking to you. Thank you for your time.

This segment is part 7 in the series : From Zero to a Market Cap Bigger than General Motors: Keith Krach, Founder of Ariba
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