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Some things have changed though, including mobile, the cloud and the speed at which business is done
At our Vator Splash SF event earlier this week, DocuSign CEO Keith Krach, in a conversation with Rory O'Driscoll of Scale Venture Partners, was asked to compare being a CEO of an enterprise software company in the 90s to being one today.
First, though, here's a bit about Krach's background.
Prior to becoming CEO of DocuSign, he founded three other companies, where he served as CEO: Rasna Corporation, software and information technology services company Ariba and investment holdings firm 3Points.
Rasna Corporation was acquired by Parametric Technology for $500 million, while Krach took Ariba public, achieving a market capitalization of $34 billion.
Krach has been chairman of DocuSign for four years, and has been CEO of the company for two years.
So what is different and what is the same?
"In terms of what is the same: the company with the best people wins. It's all about building a high performing team. I think that's universal, that's absolutely timeless," he said.
"I think the other thing, too, is finding a very big market in the middle of paradigm shift. So, when we started Ariba, we were the first enterprise application written on the Internet."
Some of the things that are different now are mobile and the cloud.
"The cloud is really driving our business through the consumerization of IT."
Krach also pointed to the "network effect" as something that has changed the way enterprise software companies do business (one DocuSign board member called the company 'Ariba on steroids'), and also the SaaS model, which he said is "vastly superior to getting those big, one-time license deals."
The biggest difference that Krach pointed to was speed, which is facilitated by the cloud, but, in the end, not that much has changed.
"There are way more similarities than differences, and a lot of parallels."
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