The Journey

A Discussion with Ryan Smith, CEO of Qualtrics: The New Enterprise Sales Guy

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Jason Lemkin

So much seems to have changed in SaaS in the last few months.  A few months ago, Lloyed Lobo from Traction Conference asked me to do a fireside chat with Ryan Smith, CEO of Qualtrics.  The video took a while to get up but we have it now and it is below.

It’s really excellent.

Qualtrics was a super-interesting Unicorn story when we made this video just a few months ago.  Now, with the changes in the capital markets, it’s even more interesting to me.

A tiny little bit like Atlassian, Ryan built Qualtrics into nine figures in ARR and a Unicorn without any (primary) venture capital.  Like Atlassian, it perhaps took a little longer because of that … but once it hit Initial Scale, it grew like a weed.  The trade-offs here are even more visceral these days as the cost of capital for SaaS companies has gone up, at least for now.

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Ryan also drove the company upmarket over the years, and in fact, talks about how there were in essence 4 different “Qualtrics” as the company evolved and grew over more than a decade.  We also had a great discussion on scaling SaaS outside the Bay Area, and how to bring in talent at different phases as you scale.

I didn’t know Ryan before the conversation, but I’m (truly) a big fan now.  I especially love talking to CEOs like Aaron Levie and Ryan Smith that have become students and professors of SaaS over the years as they’ve learned all the mechanics of scaling recurring revenues.  Because they love sharing the learnings back.

Please take a look.

Published on February 21, 2016
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