Sramana Mitra: How far did you take that company?
Jonathan Spier: We grew it for about seven and a half years. We had raised a little over $20 million, and we had an offer to sell into the nine figures from a major enterprise software company. One of the board members didn’t want to sell. They kept it private. The good news is it’s a good company. It’s still considered the leader in the enterprise analytics category.
Sramana Mitra: What is the name of the company?
Jonathan Spier: NetBase. It’s got major customers. I constantly meet people who use this software. I was in favor of selling it when we had the offer. I parted ways with the company.
Sramana Mitra: You were CEO at that time?
Jonathan Spier: I was founder and CEO for seven and a half years. Then I did an EIR at Altos with Ho Nam.
Sramana Mitra: Who was the investor who didn’t want to sell?
Jonathan Spier: It was a venture firm called Thomvest. It was the venture arm of the Thomson family.
Sramana Mitra: That’s pretty irrational.
Jonathan Spier: They weren’t irrational. They just wanted the big exit.
Sramana Mitra: Did you come up with something new at Altos?
Jonathan Spier: I flirted with that side of the table, but I just love operating too much. I was looking at a number of spaces. At NetBase, we were right there when hosted software was taking over. We had our chance to build a proper SaaS-selling motion. I got a lot of great advice from the folks up at Marketo. I spent a good time with their team.
I really loved the way that the sales process for B2B was evolving. As an EIR, I was looking at that. I was, specifically, looking at post-sale. It seemed like there was a new category needed for how you manage customers after they’re closed. Gainsight had just gotten going. I thought I was a little late for this, but I always loved that company and tracked them to see where they went.
Jonathan Spier: I connected with Phil from Marketo and talked to him about the current company. I never talked to Nick from Gainsight. He’s also a Menlo Park guy.
Sramana Mitra: What did you come away with?
Jonathan Spier: I made a hard left turn in a different direction. I met a founder who is just amazing in the retail space. I ended up launching and running a retail business. I had never imagined that I would go B2C, but I absolutely loved the business. I was attracted to the marketing process and figuring out consumer marketing.
Sramana Mitra: What were you selling?
Jonathan Spier: Kids’ footwear. The company is called Plae. It had a very high market share in Menlo Park.
Sramana Mitra: I imagine you want to spend time talking about Rev, but give me some of the highlights of NetBase and Plae where they were really strategic.
Jonathan Spier: The highlight usually comes from customer interaction and customer growth. One of the best things we ever did at NetBase was start a customer advisory board.
We started a conversation with Proctor & Gamble about our new product. Procter agreed to help us do that. They’d sit in the room and help us design the product. They committed, financially, before the product existed. Then they also helped us recruit others like Coca-Cola, Nestle, and Kraft. They were all on the advisory board. All committed financially prior to us launching the product.
Sramana Mitra: That is remarkable.
Jonathan Spier: We had millions of bookings prior to writing a single line of code.