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Applying AI to Lead Generation: Rev CEO Jonathan Spier (Part 4)

Posted on Friday, Apr 29th 2022

Sramana Mitra: What year did you move back to B2B tech?

Jonathan Spier: 2020. In fact, it was the very beginning of 2020. Right around that time, COVID hit. I spent most of that year being a stay-at-home dad and a homeschool teacher which, it turns out, I’m not good at.

Sramana Mitra: How old are your kids?

Jonathan Spier: Just one. He’s 13. It was good fun. At the end of that year, I was ready to go back to B2B. That’s how I met my first company.

Sramana Mitra: So Rev was already going?

Jonathan Spier: It was. It’s a Series B company. This was my first time coming into a running company. It was a real interesting time to do that right in the midst of COVID. I ran the company in the first five months and I had never met the employees in person.

Sramana Mitra: What was the value proposition?

Jonathan Spier: The genesis was that AI can help you find your next best customer faster. It’s a giant problem. How do you know who next to target?

Sramana Mitra: You’re focusing on B2B lead generation?

Jonathan Spier: Yes, but it’s bigger than that. They had this amazing technology and customer list, but the go-to-market was five to 10 degrees off. They were using the technology as a service for customers but not allowing customers to directly get their hands on the technology.

Sramana Mitra: So it was a services company?

Jonathan Spier: It was. It sure looked like one. There were tons of technology there.

Sramana Mitra: You said it was a Series B company when you came on board. Services companies have a hard time getting funded. There must have been some amount of technology in there for them to attract venture capital.

Jonathan Spier: That’s right. What we also know is that when you can deploy great software multiple ways, it’s so much easier to scale. It’s becoming part of the fabric of the enterprise. It’s much easier to renew and upsell. It’s customization. All those get leveraged and with the network effect, opportunities open up in a software model. That’s why they went out and looked for a new CEO. I was super excited. I’m super interested in how the funnel works.

In 25 years, it seems we’ve gotten better at every level of the funnel. What I see here is this company can be a whole other layer of the funnel. We call it above the funnel. It’s the step before you know who to talk to. That is still entirely manual. It’s a lot of guesswork and process that’s not in any system. That’s what we’re taking on.

Sramana Mitra: I worked on exactly that problem. We tried to do it with AI. There wasn’t enough data to run models on in 1998. There’s another company that tried to go after that. Umberto Milletti tried to go after the same problem with InsideView. Recently, Demandbase bought InsideView. You may want to check out the journey of InsideView.

Jonathan Spier: I certainly follow some of that. DemandBase is actually a portfolio company of Altos. I think what you said is right about the timing of two things. One is data availability. At NetBase, Twitter was brand new. It’s really about which piece of data you need. Now there’s a critical mass when it comes from different sources. It’s web data. It’s LinkedIn data. Then all the proprietary stores. Second is that AI’s matured a lot.

This segment is part 4 in the series : Applying AI to Lead Generation: Rev CEO Jonathan Spier
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