Reid Hoffman has popularized the notion of multiple “founding moments” in the life of a company: the key inflection points when leaders decide to change a path in order to better, or more quickly, realize their mission. Today is one of those moments.
We have hired Jay Larson to succeed me as our CEO!
I believe this is an unequivocal win for our customers, our employees, and our investors.
One of our core values is transparency, so I’d like to share the email I sent to introduce Jay to the company:
From: Dan Siroker
Subject: Introducing Jay Larson, our new CEO!
As I announced this morning, I am super excited to share with you that I have hired Jay Larson to succeed me as our CEO!
I want to use this email to introduce him. But before I do, I want to be clear I’m not going anywhere! This is a 1+1=3 situation. I am deeply committed to the company and will now serve as our full time Executive Chairman. This is a role that means different things at different companies so I want to make it clear what this means at Optimizely. I am going to focus on three areas that I am most passionate about: customers, culture, and product. In this role, I will continue to roll up my sleeves every day and manage our 100+ person design, engineering, and product management organization (ADEPT).
Going forward Bill Press, Byron Jones, Claire Vo, John Provine, Jon Noronha, and Pete Koomen will continue to report to me. All my other direct reports, Clare Bergman, David Schwarzbach, and Erin Flynn will now report directly to Jay.
Also, since we value sharing context and transparency, I published a public blog post explaining why I decided to hire a CEO and my role going forward.
Enough about me, let me tell you about Jay! The most important criteria I used to make the decision of who to hire as CEO was whether it would be an unequivocal win for our customers, our employees, and our investors. All three of these constituents were top of mind for me as I began the CEO search on the first day of our fiscal year, February 1st.
Over the last five months I focused on finding the right CEO to help us fulfill our full potential as a category-defining enterprise software company. Through this process one candidate emerged as the hands-down favorite: Jay Larson.
I was so impressed by Jay that our first interview went for four hours straight! Jay played critical roles building two phenomenal enterprise software companies: Mercury Interactive and SuccessFactors, that were worth $4.5B, and $3.4B, respectively. Not only that, but he spent the last three years as CEO of Birst, where he successfully enabled the company to move upmarket into the enterprise and become the leader in cloud analytics.
Few people on this planet have accomplished what Jay has accomplished. What is even more impressive is how Jay has accomplished it. I’ve gotten to know Jay well and one thing is absolutely clear to me: he embodies our cultural values of OPTIFY:
- Ownership: he is a phenomenal team builder and values context over control.
- Passion: he is very customer-centric and deeply, authentically excited about the work he does.
- Trust: he has earned the trust of the people he leads and he trusts them in return.
- Integrity: he is one of the most authentic and intellectually honest people I’ve ever met.
- Fearlessness: he is fearless in doing what it takes to win.
- transparencY: he is endearingly honest and candid and deeply values transparency.
Lastly, I want to share what I think this change means for us as shareholders. Pete and I are the two largest shareholders in Optimizely and we both unequivocally believe hiring Jay is the best path to maximizing value for all of us as shareholders. Jay has proven his ability to build massively valuable companies like Mercury Interactive and SuccessFactors. Not only that, but he believes, as I do, that Optimizely has the potential to be much, much bigger. Our success is far from preordained so it will take all of us working tirelessly in service of our customers to reach our full potential.
Getting to $90m in ARR was hard. Getting to $900m will be even harder. $9b, harder still. But we didn’t sign up for this because it would be easy. If it were easy, anyone could do it. Changes like this are also hard. But in hindsight they will seem obvious. 10 years from now I know we will look back at today and consider this one of the most important moments in our company’s history.
To Infinity & Beyond!