Metrics & Operations

SaaStr Podcast #083: Ryan Smith, Founder & CEO @ Qualtrics On Bootstrapping To A $Bn Valuation

Harry Stebbings

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Welcome to Episode 83! Ryan Smith is the Founder & CEO of Qualtrics, an online survey company with 1,200 employees and a valuation of more than $1bn. They have backing from some of the world’s best investors including the likes of Sequoia, Accel, and Insight Venture Partners, having raised a $150m Series B in 2014. As for Ryan, there are many awesome things, first, he has built Qualtrics from Utah allowing him to gain perspective outside of the traditional tech bubbles, second, he held off on attaining VC funding for many years despite the common belief that it is necessary for unicorn growth, and finally he has the most incredible work life balance I have seen and if you have not already you must check out this piece on him in Forbes, it really is a must.

ryan-smithIn today’s episode you will learn:
How Ryan made his way into startups and came to found Qualtrics.
Sequoia’s Bryan Schreier states that Ryan’s success is due to running the company on ‘first business principles.’ What does he mean by this? How does this affect the way Ryan runs Qualtrics?
Why did Ryan decide to bootstrap the company for such a long time with the likes of Accel and Sequoia looking to invest? What are the benefits of retaining such control? What are the financial requirements to do so?
What makes the best CEOs? How do they view the internal structure of the company? How do they perceive their role? How do they manage their day and optimize their time?
How does Ryan look to instill ‘radical transparency’ in the organization? What are the benefits of doing so? Can an organization ever be too transparent? What are the challenges of such transparency?
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Jason Lemkin
Harry Stebbings
SaaStr
Ryan Smith

Published on December 20, 2016
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