At last night's Vator Splash SF, DocuSign CEO Keith Krach sat down with Rory O'Driscoll of Scale Venture Partners in a wide ranging discussion. In it, they covered such topics as Krach's career, his managing style and how things have changed since he first became a CEO in the '90s.
At one point O'Driscoll asked him about the "tension" over what to give out for free versus what does the company charge for to increase revenue. Basically, what is more important: having a lot of money coming in, or having a lot of customers?
"At real macro level, it's like 'what's the objective'?" said Krach. "Is it reach or is it revenue?"
This is something that DocuSign always struggles with, he said, and always tries to do its best at balancing.
"You know, we say 'Reach without revenue is no good.' But its actually worked out great."
One of DocuSign's early moves was to differentiate between the sender and the signer. And it was a conscious choice to make DocuSign different from the competition by always making signing free.
"That was just absolutely brilliant, because, you know, there are a lot of little upstarts kind of coming up, and they were charging for signing. And it really allowed us to spread things out."
This, he said, has driven demand at consumer facing companies looking to enhance their customer experience.
Later on in the night, Krach was asked by a member of the Splash audience about what he should do with his own company, and for Krach to further explain his thoughts process when it came to this decision.
"If your objective is to be the market leader, and to be the standard, you've got to have that reach. The other thing is that you've got to protect your underbelly from startup companies, and a great way to do that is a freemium model," he said.
The freemium model, where a company has a free product but charges users for certain perks and extra services, "turbocharged" DocuSign.
So what was Krach's advice? Go freemium to build reach while offering a differentiated product that companies of all sizes are willing to pay for.
"Every business is a little bit different but, nowadays, people are kind of used to that."
Note: Interested in attending a Splash event? Vator is holding Splash London on Nov. 7. Check it out here.
(Image source: http://pixt.com/splash1013)