Ep. 341: David Politis is the Founder & CEO @ BetterCloud, the company that helps IT discover, manage and secure the digital workplace. To date, David has raised over $186M in funding with BetterCloud from the likes of Accel, Warburg Pincus, Greycroft, Flybridge and Dropbox to name a few. Before founding BetterCloud, David was an early employee of Cloud Sherpas (acquired by Accenture), where he led the company to become the leading cloud services partner to SMB worldwide. Prior to Cloud Sherpas, David was a founding employee and General Manager of Vocalocity (acquired by Vonage), which he grew into one of the top providers of cloud PBX technology.
In Today’s Episode We Discuss:
* How David made his way into the world of SaaS and came to found BetterCloud. How has David seen the rate of cloud adoption within enterprise over the last 5 years? Has it been faster or slower than he thought?
* People often suggest operators are suited to certain stages of a company lifecycle. Does David agree with this? What are the leading indicators an individual is struggling to scale? How does one communicate that to them effectively? How does David think about the decision to move an individual to another role vs release them?
* What does radical transparency really mean to David? How does the ability to have radical transparency within your org change when the org is 10 people vs 100 people? What are the biggest challenges of scaling transparency? From a meeting structure view, what can leaders do to encourage transparency?
* How does David feel about the method of OKR setting? How has his mindset changed towards OKRs? What does the decision-making process look like for deciding which OKRs to focus on? What OKRs do they focus on at BetterCloud? How does one know when they need to change their OKRs?
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Below, we’ve shared the transcript of Harry’s interview with David.
Harry Stebbings: We are back, and this is The Official SaaStr Podcast with me, Harry Stebbings and if you’d like to see more from us behind the scenes, you can on Instagram at hstebbings1996, with two Bs. I really do always love to see you there.
Harry Stebbings: But to our episode today, and I first had this guest on 20VC over three years ago, both he and the business have scaled phenomenally since then. So I’m thrilled to welcome back David Politis to the hot seat today.
Harry Stebbings: Now, David is the founder and CEO at BetterCloud, the company that helps IT discover, manage, and secure the digital workplace. To date, David has raised over $186 million in funding with BetterCloud, from the likes of Accel, Warburg Pincus, Greycroft, Flybridge, and Dropbox, to name a few. Before founding BetterCloud, David was an early employee of Cloud Sherpas, acquired by Accenture, where he led the company to become the leading cloud services partner to SMBs worldwide. Prior to Cloud Sherpas, David was a founding employee and general manager of Vocalocity, acquired by Vonage, which he grew into one of the top providers of cloud PBX technology.
Harry Stebbings: But that’s quite enough from me, so now I’m very, very excited to hand over to David Politis, founder and CEO at BetterCloud.
Harry Stebbings: David, absolutely fantastic to have you on the show. As we were joking about beforehand, it’s been three years since our last episode, what a three years it’s been, but thank you so much for joining me once again today.
David Politis: Thank you, Harry, it’s really good to be here. Good to be talking to you again.
Harry Stebbings: That is so kind of you, but I do want to kick off and for those that missed our first episode, how did you make your way into what I always call the wonderful world of SaaS? But most importantly, come to found BetterCloud?
David Politis: Yeah, so I started my career in 2004. When I graduated from undergrad, I started at a SaaS company, actually before it was called SaaS, before the term “cloud” was being used. I started at a company which turned out to be one of the first ever cloud PBX businesses in the world. It was called Vocalocity. So that’s how I started my career, I started in SaaS. I went from Vocalocity, which became one of the top cloud PBX businesses in the world, went from there to a company called Cloud Sherpas, which was one of the first cloud consulting or cloud, I’d say, systems integrators, in the world and became one of the largest and one of the most successful. At Cloud Sherpas, I saw this massive shift, a once in a generation type of shift, to the cloud.
David Politis: I had seen it at Vocalocity with SMBs moving to the cloud, but at Cloud Sherpas, I saw enterprises starting to shift their productivity, their collaboration suites to the cloud. When I saw that, that was in 2010, it became clear there was going to be a massive opportunity in this space. As these companies made the shift to the cloud, made the shift to SaaS specifically, they were going to need a whole new set of tools to manage and secure those environments.
David Politis: So I started BetterCloud in November, 2011, with the vision of providing exactly that, a platform to manage and secure these SaaS environments. Now, to be honest, at the time I thought BetterCloud, we were going to be managing and securing one SaaS platform, which was G Suite, at the time, or called Google Apps. But now when you look at it, we’ve expanded that as SaaS has exploded and the use has exploded and we’ve moved to this really best of breed world.
David Politis: There’s a need for a SaaS ops platform that sits across all these SaaS applications and gives IT central visibility, control, security around those best of breed applications they have in their environment like G Suite, Slack, Dropbox, Box, Salesforce, Office 365, so on and so forth. So my whole career has been in SaaS and it’s been crazy to see what has happened in this space and how it’s exploded and it’s really exciting.
Harry Stebbings: Can I ask, because the thing with Saas is two different stories. One is enterprise adoption of the cloud, which is incredible, and when you look at the rates of cloud growth, it’s been phenomenal to see, but then when you also look at the underlying data, there’s still a huge amount of enterprises on-prem and not transitioning to the cloud. Has to rate the adoption of enterprise to cloud been what you expected? Been slower, been faster? Did it meet expectations?
David Politis: It has been a lot slower than I had expected. When I started this company, I thought, “Oh, it’s just a matter of a couple of years and all the companies in the world are going to be adopting these SaaS platforms.” I really believed that at the time and it’s taken a really long time and been slower than I expected. If we’re being honest, I think a lot of that is due to just a lot of inertia. Just people have been in this old environment with these security requirements, or people are scared for their jobs and they don’t want to rip and replace all their technologies and put their jobs at risk.
David Politis: So I think there’s a lot of reasons why it’s taken longer, but it’s taken longer, and I’ll say what has happened in the last three months with COVID, which honestly, this is not the way we would want to see this happen, but with all the shelter in place, all the work from home, this has been a catalyst for SaaS adoption like I’ve never seen before in my entire career. We are seeing enterprises just get essentially just thrown off the edge, thrown into the deep end, and they’re being forced to buy and deploy and adopt SaaS in a way that they’ve never … I really believe in the SaaS adoption that would have taken the next three years has happened in a three month window. Given how long we’ve been stuck in this world, that’s just driving the adoption of these applications higher and higher and I think it means they’re going to be stickier and stickier in these enterprise environments.
Harry Stebbings: Can I ask, do you get concerned about the sustainability of this growth or actually with the long-term and sustainable transition to remote work and work from home, that this will be an ongoing feature of the revenue and actually much more stable than a lot would suggest?
David Politis: Yeah, we feel like it is going to be stable because what we’ve seen firsthand, and I’ve seen this literally my entire career, is when you put these applications in front of the end users, it is extremely difficult to rip them out ,because once people start putting business processes and start running the companies and their departments and their teams, and they just do work in these applications, it is really difficult to go backwards because it’s like going from a car that has power steering back to cars before they had power steering. Who really wants to have that experience when you’ve all of a sudden, the whole experience of working has improved? You’re not going to take that away from people.
David Politis: So I believe we’ve accelerated the adoption. The pace cannot continue like this. I think we’ve accelerated the adoption, but now it’s here to stay because very few companies … I think it’s going to be very difficult for companies to rip this stuff out.
Harry Stebbings: Can I ask, I mean, we’re a little bit off schedule, but I love natural conversation, so fuck it. My question to you [inaudible 00:07:46] with the acceleration, were you ready for it as an organization because with it becomes much more increased sales team to really take advantage, much higher level of customer success, much higher level of customer service. Were you ready for it given you didn’t have a six month ramp time?
David Politis: We’ve been moving up market for a while now. We continue to move up market in terms of types of customers that we’re serving into larger and larger organizations. What I will say is, this again has accelerated the conversations that we’re having with organizations that are 20,000, 30,000, 40,000 people. So to answer your question, we were preparing for this, we weren’t preparing for it to happen this quickly. So we have changed our roadmap around in certain areas. We’ve prioritized hiring in some very specific areas, mostly around customer success, helping people use the product and making sure that they’re getting the most value out of the product, because what you find, for example, we have an organization we’re working with right now, it’s a hundred year old insurance company. This is an organization whose entire IT team has never touched a SaaS platform ever. Their entire IT team, they’re Microsoft top to bottom, and Microsoft, I’m talking about legacy exchange and active directory and everything.
David Politis: So this is a team that doesn’t even know where to start. They don’t understand the new paradigm and they need help. So where we see the most of our investment is around customer success and helping people use our product, but really just define best practices for their heterogeneous best of breed environment, that three months ago didn’t exist at all. That, I think, is the big area where we’ve had to put energy.
Harry Stebbings: You mentioned the energy and the focus on hiring there. Hiring within scaling SaaS orgs is such an interesting topic because many people say, “Actually, the people that get you from nought to a million or 10 million in ARR won’t be able to get you to 10 to 50 million and very much segment people by stage. I guess, first off, do you agree with this commonly held trope of segmentation by stage of people? Or do people have plasticity to move across stage?
David Politis: I think that some people have the ability to go from stage to stage and see the entire journey. I do believe that there are few and far between of those types of people because it’s a type of personality, it’s a way of working. What I have seen in my career is that there are very few of those people that can take the entire journey. I don’t know exactly where the line breaks are. Is it 10 million, 15 million, 20 million, 5 million, a hundred million? I’m not sure that those breaks are so clear in terms of the stages, but it’s clear that there’s someone who’s really good at early stage.
David Politis: There’s a set of people who just have the personality, the work style, the leadership style, the risk profile to go after that early stage. Then as you evolve, and I have not seen a business that is extremely late stage, I’ve not been part of a public company. So I’m sure that as I see the evolution, there’s more stages I haven’t even seen, but I definitely believe that it’s different people at different stages, for the most part.
Harry Stebbings: Okay, so if that’s the case and I do actually agree with you, I have to say, but if that’s the case and we’re scaling and we’re in that transition period from one stage to the next and we’re contemplating whether someone is scaling or not, what are the leading indicators, do you think, and from your experience, suggests that someone’s struggling to make that transition?
David Politis: There’s a number of them. I’d say number one to me, is when people go from being proactive, when leaders especially, I’m talking about executives and leaders, when they go from being proactive, to being reactive, and again, there’s a lot going on, so you’re going to have to be reactive to some things, but the leaders who understand a certain stage or who are right for that stage, in my view, they can see around the corners. They know what’s going to come next and they can prepare for that. They’re going eyes wide open into that next stage. What I see is if people have not seen it, it’s not natural to them. They’re going to start falling behind on the things that need to get done and everything is going to be reactive.
David Politis: You could be proactive from living through those stages. You could be proactive from having mentors that can take you through those stages and advise you through those stages. There’s a lot of ways to be proactive, but that’s where I see the difference. Then of course in performance, just in pure performance of their teams, of their departments, of the company, you can start to see when people start breaking down. In some cases, when I’ve had conversations with people, they’ll offer up themselves that they feel like they’ve reached a ceiling, or they’ve reached a point where it’s not right for them anymore. I’ve actually had people volunteer that information.
David Politis: Now, of course, you have to make that conversation safe, I guess, for them to have. But I’ve seen that occur where people say, “I just don’t feel like this is the right stage for me.” So there are a number of different ways, but those are some of the big ones.
Harry Stebbings: That was one of my questions, which is that, when it comes to that communication with them, how do you think about the right way to communicate to them, maybe those that are less self-aware, that they’re not scaling within the team in a way and speed that they should do? I guess, subsequently, sorry for the double question, how do you think by internal migration of roles versus actually scaling out?
David Politis: So in terms of the conversations that I have had, it’s usually reached a point where there are a set of clear things that have not been done, or there’s a set of best practices that are very clear for that next stage. I learned those best practices by reading, by talking to people, by meeting with our advisors, our investors, and when there starts to be enough of these item, usually that’s how I present that to the person who is … To say, “Hey, here’s all this information. We’re not doing this. We’re not doing this. We’re not following this best practice.” Usually this is not one, two, three, four, five things, it’s 10, 20 things. When you start listing those items out and usually in that conversation, most people will acknowledge, “Yeah, I didn’t even think to do that. I didn’t even know … ” Because instead of just saying, “I feel this,” I think showing people, “Here’s the types of things I would have expected us to be doing at this point and we’re not.” That helps to open up that conversation, usually.
David Politis: I seen a lot of success, frankly, with keeping people inside of an organization and either moving their role, changing their role, because you spend so much time, usually these people are really capable and culturally a good fit and they’ve delivered, they’ve really contributed to the business. So I’ve seen that be successful. The challenge in the internal moves is that the person who’s making that move is ready to have that type of a change. Because if you have someone who’s got a VP level title and you’re going to move them to a director, for example, that could be difficult for someone, for a whole host of reasons. So it’s hard to make actually work, but it is very possible to make work. It’s just, it’s about the person that you’re doing that with, and the roles that they’re moving into and from.
Harry Stebbings: In terms of the new role and new person coming into the organization, once we flip to that maybe more positive mindset, there’s always … Well, having said that, there’s always challenges of bringing new execs into scaling orgs. What are the challenges of bringing new execs to scaling orgs from your perspective now, having done it a couple of times now with BetterCloud?
David Politis: We actually just went through this very recently. Last year, we brought in a number of new executives and the challenge when you bring in new executives is, even if they have amazing experience, and even if these people have … they know the industry and they know … They’re coming into a new company, they’re coming into a new set of customers, they’re coming into a new team. So there is a lot of time that that takes for someone to really get up to speed and become one with the organism, if you will.
David Politis: If you think about this living thing that is the company, it takes time for someone to enter that and become one with it. I’ve seen that a number of times and again, I’ve just gone through this. The key is, first is getting them to understand their team, to understand their department, their direct reports, everyone. I mean, really to spend that time. That to me, is so important and it has to come first and really simultaneously with that, is getting into the working rhythm with their peers and the other executives on the team, because that’s where they’re going to make or break their success, if you will, at the organization is with their peers, with their teams. So it’s a lot of that, just gelling with those people and understanding the motions and the processes and things like that.
David Politis: For us, I’ve had this really big challenge of, in the first 90 days in the first 120 days, first six months really, of someone being in a role, for me part of the challenge is how do you balance being really involved with this executive and with their team and making sure they’re doing a good job, while at the same time, giving them space to build their own cadence and their own relationships and their own successes? It’s a really interesting balance and that’s something that I’m still learning how to do. I think it’s a mix art science, I don’t know.
Harry Stebbings: No, it is and it absolutely is and I think it’s mostly just evolving and characteristic and it evolves both with you and with the changing workforce, and work from home changes everything, especially onboarding and getting to know the team and the mechanics of the org. So I think bluntly, it’s a transient skill that needs to ever evolve. So yeah, I think you can take some consolation in that. I do want to ask, because in terms of like really getting to know the org from the exec level, radical transparency is always thrown around as this brilliant term to have within your org and the benefits of it, and you’ve said it before in terms of you having it at BetterCloud, I guess my first question is, it is still thrown around, what does it actually mean to you in terms of radical transparency?
David Politis: So radical transparency in my mind, it’s making sure that everyone has access, essentially, to the same information, good, bad, ugly. That people are sharing what they’re working on, that people are sharing when they’re going to deliver what they’re working on. The leadership sharing how the business is doing, answering questions, the hard questions, the hard questions that people have. It’s really about giving everyone access to this information in a world where all of our information… It’s at our fingertips. I mean, everyone can get at any piece of information whenever they want and in companies, that’s not really always the case. I think radical transparency is about trying to make that happen and make that a reality in a business type setting.
Harry Stebbings: Totally agree with you in terms of, as you said there, especially enabling access to everyone within the org. I guess the process of practicing it’s a different thing. When you think about really implementing that across the org, and the big question for me is that we transition, because it’s easy at 10 people, it’s challenging at a hundred and it’s even more so at 300, how does the process of practicing that radical transparency change with scale?
David Politis: When you’re small, it is easy, now reflecting on it. When you’re small, it is easy to be transparent because if the company is five people, 10 people, your all-hands meetings are done in a conference room. They done in a Zoom where you can see everyone in the tiles in one view, it’s easy. It’s easy to have the conversations. It doesn’t have to be very structured. Generally speaking, it’s a decision you just have to make, and you have to be deliberate about it, but it’s easy to do and that’s how I did it. In the early days, it was just about, let’s do an all-hands meeting and we just sit there and talk, literally I would just talk here’s, “What’s happening. Here’s how the business is doing.” Maybe pull up a couple of spreadsheets and things like that. That was the extent of it and people would ask questions because it was a very intimate group and people felt comfortable asking questions, and it was really like a family, if you will, at that stage.
David Politis: As we’ve gotten bigger, we’ve had to put more process and systems if you will, around transparency. So for example, we’ve now moved to … Post-COVID, we’ve moved to two all-hands per week. So twice a week for 30 minutes, we do all-hands meetings via Zoom and we let people ask anonymous questions in those all-hands meetings and we answer all of them. I mean, I’ve been doing that since the beginning of BetterCloud, I’ve answered hundreds, maybe thousands of anonymous questions and as an example … but we leave time for people to be able to ask those questions and for those questions to be answered. For example, we produce our KPIs and really our OKRs get sent to the whole company. Everyone can see all the OKRs for everyone in the company, they get emailed out, the results get emailed out at the end of a quarter.
David Politis: We have office hours, where the executives hold office hours and they do 30 minute office hour blocks where people can sign up for it. We do leadership effectiveness, 360 reviews essentially, where people can do reviews on their leaders and then the leaders actually share those reviews back to their teams and fully transparent, good, bad, ugly. “Here’s the review. Here’s how it came back. Here’s what I’m going to work on.” So all these things, that we have a long, long list. Every year, we do a anonymous survey to the whole company with usually about 50 questions and let people voice all the things that they’re happy about, not happy about, and we share the results back to the whole company. So it takes just a lot more work. It takes many more hours to be transparent when you have more people, more departments, people with just different backgrounds, they process information differently.
David Politis: So transparency has become more deliberate. It’s become more time consuming, but it’s become arguably more valuable because when I look at it, if I can deliver that information, if I can share with people why we’re doing something, how the business is doing, the areas of risk, the areas of focus. If I can do that effectively at scale and answer people’s burning questions and sensitive questions, if I can do that at scale, I should be able to empower the organization to move quicker, to have less anxiety, if you will, or just preoccupation with things on their mind that they can’t get answered. So that has been my goal, but it has changed really tremendously from the beginning.
Harry Stebbings: Can I ask, you enabled the transition to cloud for some of the best and biggest acts in the world. When you think about your own stack state to enable this radical transparency internally, what does that look like for you? It’s Slack, it’s Notion, it’s Airtable? What is the internal stack like to really enable this real time truth system of record for you?
David Politis: So Slack is definitely a big piece of this. I mean, in Slack, we have a channel for example, called Wins. Any time that there’s a win, if it’s a new customer we bring on board, or a new review that we get, like a positive review, any win automatically gets published into this channel through a Slack bot. So people can see that real time, all the time. We have a Slack bot that gives the roadmap, our upcoming roadmap with delivery dates. Every week, it publishes that roadmap. It gives the updated dates, it gives the detail. We have so much that happens in Slack on a regular basis, just automated, that pushes all this information. So that’s a big one.
David Politis: Zoom is of course a big one. That’s how we hold our all-hands meetings, well of course that’s how we hold all meetings today. But that’s how we hold our all-hands meetings, that. We also use Google Meet to make it a little more complicated, and then we use Google Forms to do the anonymous questions. So we have a Google form we’ve set up with a bunch of fields that we use for the anonymous questions for the all-hands. We use Tableau for our dashboards and for the data, so everyone has access to that, again, in different pieces, depending on what they focus on.
David Politis: Then we have Ally. Ally is what we use, it’s a new product that we’re using, which is what we use for our OKRs and so we give everyone access to Ally so they can see, they have read and actually comment access, on everything, on everyone’s OKR. So we use that for OKRs.
David Politis: So we use a whole slew, as you can imagine, of products and we’ve added more and more, frankly. The truth is, is that we’re living in the reality … To your point, we’re living in the reality that our customers are living in, there’s different products for different uses. There’s products that have been purpose-built to do NPS, for example, so we’ll use that for the customers. There’s products that have been purpose-built for big … I think Zoom’s handling of big meetings, large meetings, is better than Meet, but I think Meet, is actually, if you’re a Google shop, is better for one-on-ones. So there’s really a product for all these different use cases.
Harry Stebbings: I totally agree, there is. In terms of the many different products and the different attempts with those products. Is there any processes, initiatives with regards to instilling that transparency, that haven’t worked so well and you tried it and actually, didn’t produce the results like you thought.
David Politis: So I heard a podcast, I believe it was Diane Green. It was a podcast where she was talking about … I don’t know if it was at a business school class or something and she was talking about how at VMware, they would send out a weekly email that essentially had all the … Each department head would talk about what they had achieved, what they were working on and I thought that was brilliant. I listened to that … and this happens a lot to me. I hear some idea like that, “We got to do that. We got to do that for BetterCloud.” So we did that and each week we forced every … or each two weeks, we forced everyone to give us their updates and put it in a long email and send it out. It was just really hard for people to … and it took a lot of work. It took more work than it should have taken and it just didn’t work for our org. I’m not sure why, but I think it was just too in the weeds for some departments, too high level for other departments, and it just didn’t work.
David Politis: So that’s an example where I heard an idea, it worked for someone else and it didn’t work for us. That’s the one that really sticks out in my mind. The other one, we went to all-hands meetings that were longer, that were less frequent. So we were having meetings once a month and we ended up moving them to once every two months and we made them 90 minutes. That also didn’t work because it became too long. People’s attention span, they could not sit and listen to that for 90 minutes. Listen to me speak, they’re falling asleep. 90 minutes is too much. So now this 30 minute all-hands that we do twice a week is a hundred times better. Just the engagement is so much better and the presentations are 20 minutes max. So that’s another example, where we’ve tried a bunch of different things and we’ve always … It’s a matter of really listening to the team and seeing what’s working, what’s not and being okay shutting things down, if you will, if they’re not working, or changing them.
Harry Stebbings: Oh, David, that’s music to my ears. I mean, you know me, focused around 20 minutes of attention span [inaudible 00:26:13] I love. So I’m totally alligned to you there. I do want to move into my favorite element of any episode, which is the quick fire round. So I say a short statement, you hit me with your immediate thoughts. In the theme of time constraint, it’s 60 seconds per one, maximum. Ready to roll?
David Politis: Yep. I’m ready.
Harry Stebbings: So what’s the hardest element of your role with BetterCloud today?
David Politis: Easily the hardest state for me, patience. I want to attack every day. I want to attack every problem. I want everything to be done basically immediately and the patience to understand that things take time and as the organization has gotten bigger, I cannot do the actual work myself in many cases, especially these big projects, that we may want to deliver a product, it may take us six months or nine months given the size of what we want to do. For me, it’s just that patience because everyday I just want to attack and check things off the list and go after it, so patience.
Harry Stebbings: [inaudible 00:27:02] beforehand but I am intrigued and it’s unfair of me to throw it in, but I have to do anyway. How’s fundraising different in a pandemic world?
David Politis: Fundraising is different in a pandemic world, one, because you have to find the right investor, who … In 2019, finding investors who are ready to be aggressive and do deals quickly and make big bets? Of course easier in 2019. Post-COVID, especially in the early days, we’re talking about early March, which is really when I was fundraising, that was much more difficult. You have to find an investor who’s been through a firm that has been through these downturns before, who has the stomach for it, who has the long-term view of the world. So that’s number one, just it’s a different type of investor, in my opinion.
David Politis: Number two is not meeting in person for some of the most critical and important meetings in a fundraising process and doing everything via Zoom, three hour, four hour long Zooms. It’s a very different experience. I think one of those things that has reminded me how important that in-person time is, is trying to fundraise and trying to build a connection and rapport with investors, anyone, with anyone new, but with investors, you’re going to get into this really important relationship and high stakes, and doing that via Zoom is different. It’s different and not something I would want to do again, if I could avoid it.
David Politis: But yeah, that, and then I would say the last thing is you’re … Mid-COVID, things are changing by the day, frankly, by the day. So putting out a plan, putting out a operating plan that someone’s going to invest behind, that’s a really hard thing to do when you’re still trying to figure out what the world’s going to look like. So this was a crazy experience, frankly and-
Harry Stebbings: I think if you could predict operational budgets in the time of COVID, David, you should be in hedge funds and investing in public markets and I’ll give you my money in that case.
David Politis: Yeah. I don’t think I’m that good at it. We’ll find out. I’ll let you know at the end of the year how we did.
Harry Stebbings: What do you believe that most round you disbelieve?
David Politis: I will say the one thing I believe, and I’ve always believed, is I don’t have a lot of work/life separation, work/life balance. I don’t really have a lot of hobbies, or any hobbies. I love work, work and life for me are very much mixed together and I think that that’s okay and healthy. I love it. This is what my dream was to do this, I’m doing it and there’s nothing else in the world I’d want to do. I’ve been challenged on that a lot. “Is this healthy? Do you need work/life balance? You need to separate … ” I believe if you really are that passionate about what you do, yeah, of course, you need a break here and there, but anyway, that’s my feeling.
Harry Stebbings: Yeah, no I normally just ask if Elon Musk has work/life balance. Tell me, what would you most like to change about the world of SaaS?
David Politis: The biggest thing I would change that we’re dealing with firsthand as a major challenge, is more standardization to APIs, or standards, I guess you would say, around APIs. When we go and integrate into a SaaS platform that we want to support in BetterCloud, the work required to go and integrate into their APIs, in many cases, it’s unique for each platform. The way that Box handles their files API, is different than Dropbox, is different from OneDrive, is different from Google Drive and it is extremely difficult to really try to create this, not just for us, for anybody. If you want to really use these APIs, there are no real standards around the files APIs, or the channels APIs, the groups APIs.
David Politis: There are around user attributes and there is skim and there are standards around that, but more broadly, it would make for an easier integration ecosystem, if you would, if there was more standards there.
Harry Stebbings: Totally agree with you in terms of the standardization of APIs, it always drives me crazy when you see just the variation. The final one that I have to ask is, when you go back, what do you know now that you wish you’d known when you started BetterCloud?
David Politis: You asked an excellent question earlier, that is the thing that I wish I knew, which is the speed of adoption. The rate of adoption of SaaS has been slower than I expected it to be. The level of trust in some of the SaaS platforms like a Slack or Zoom have taken longer than I expected them to take. If I understood that, I think the speed of investment would have changed and the priority of roadmap, product roadmap, would have changed for me from where I was sitting 10 years ago, 12 years ago, eight years ago. I’ve always felt like this is just … it’s happening and it’s happening really quickly, but that was in the bubble that I was in. When you take a step back, to your point, even today still, there are still enterprises that are holding back and they’re not going all in. So for me, I wish I knew the exact rate of adoption of SaaS. That would have changed a lot of the investments and the roadmap and things like that.
Harry Stebbings: David, listen, I think it’s going to go much faster now with COVID times ahead but I do want to say thank you so much. Honestly, I’ve so enjoyed this. Every three years we’re going to do a show.
David Politis: Yes, exactly.
Harry Stebbings: [inaudible 00:32:14], so thank you so much again.
David Politis: Thank you, Harry.
Harry Stebbings: I do just always so love my chats with David and if you’d like to see more from us behind the scenes, you can on Instagram at hstebbings1996 with two Bs. As always, I so appreciate all your support and I can’t wait to bring you a fantastic episode next week.