Ep. 297: Bob Moore is the Founder & CEO @ Crossbeam, the startup that helps companies find overlapping prospects and customers while keeping the rest of their data private and secure. To date Bob has raised over $15m with Crossbeam from friends of the show including Andy @ Uncork, Matt @ Firstmark, Bill @ First Round and Matt @ Salesforce Ventures, to name a few. Prior to Crossbeam, Bob founded Stitched, a powerful ETL service built for developers that was acquired by Talend in 2018. Before that Bob co-founded RJ Metrics, where he built a global base of online retailers leading to their acquisition by Magento Commerce in 2016.
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In Today’s Episode We Discuss:
* How Bob made his way into the world of SaaS and came to found Crossbeam.
* As an entrepreneur, Bob has previously said, “No one is coming to save you.” What did he mean by this? What were the core mistakes that he made with RJ Metrics? Is it the responsibility of the board to course correct at this early stage? How does Bob determine whether to be visionary and determined vs realizing when something is not working?
* Does Bob agree with the notion that channel sales have completely died in the world of SaaS? Why is this? What are the drivers of its death? How important is it to own the entire customer journey? At what scale does that become impossible? In terms of replacement, what does Bob believe will be the emerging trends in SaaS Go To Market that will replace it?
* How does Bob think about when is the right time to hire a Head of Partnerships? In the early days, partnerships can be a distraction, how does Bob determine between right and wrong when determining whether to engage in a partnership? Where do most startups go wrong both in hiring for partnerships and in the engagements themselves?
Ep. 298: Startup success is not exclusive to Silicon Valley. With more companies launching and thriving outside of Silicon Valley, regions such as ‘Silicon Slopes’ in Utah and ‘Silicon Alley’ in New York City are gaining traction within the startup scene. Podium, an interaction management platform for local businesses, was founded in Utah and grew from five employees in 2015 to more than 300 in 2019 to become one of the fastest-growing SaaS companies in the United States. In just four years, Podium has raised almost $100 million, with annual recurring revenue increasing to almost $60 million. Eric Rea, CEO of Podium, will share how he grew the company he launched from his spare bedroom into one of the fastest-growing SaaS companies in the country.
This episode is sponsored by Brex.
SaaStr’s Founder’s Favorites Series features one of SaaStr’s best of the best sessions that you might have missed.
This podcast is an excerpt from Eric’s session at SaaStr Europa 2019.
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Below, we’ve shared the transcript of Harry’s interview with Bob.
Harry Stebbings: Welcome to the very first SaaStr podcast of 2020. It is so good to be back and you are here with me, Harry Stebbings and you can see all things behind the scenes on Instagram @hstebbings1996 with two Bs. Where you can also suggest future guests for the show, but to our first guest of 2020, and I’m thrilled to welcome Bob Moore. Bob is the founder and CEO of Crossbeam, the startup that helps companies find overlapping prospects and customers while keeping the rest of their data private and secure. To date, Bob has raised over $15 million with Crossbeam from friends of the show, including Andy at Uncork, Matt at Firstmark, Bill at First Round and Matt at Salesforce Ventures, just to name a few. Prior to Crossbeam Bob founded Stitched, a powerful ETL service built for developers that was acquired by Talend in 2018. Before that and Bob co-founded RJ Metrics where he built a global base of online retailers, leading to their acquisition by Magento Commerce in 2016.
Harry Stebbings: And I’d also want to say a huge thank you to the wonderful Matt Turk and Andy McLaughlin for some fantastic question suggestions ahead of our episode today. I really do so appreciate that.
Harry Stebbings: But that’s quite enough from me for now. I’m very excited to welcome the first guest of 2020, Bob Moore, co-founder and CEO at Crossbeam.
Harry Stebbings: Bob, it is absolutely fantastic to have you on the show. As I said, big hand to Matt at Firstmark, and also heard many good things from Andy at Uncork. But thank you so much for joining me today, Bob.
Bob Moore: It’s great to be here. This is awesome.
Harry Stebbings: I love that energy to start with. But tell me, this is not your first time at the rodeo, so I want to kick off with how did you make your way into the SaaS world that I love so much? And how did that lead to the founding of Crossbeam more recently?
Bob Moore: Yeah. So I started my career out actually on the venture side of the table. I worked at Insight Venture Partners right after college. If you know Insight’s, it’s a firm with a lot of junior folks who are working hard to find deals and doing outbound calling and getting in the room with entrepreneurs to try and source the most interesting companies. And that was me. I was sending a 100 emails a week and doing those initial meetings for that firm for two years. And in the course of doing that, I think I really discovered and fell in love with SaaS as a business model and it really doubled down on my interest in data analytics. And that led me to co-founding a company called RJ Metrics in 2008 with my co-founder Jake Stein, who was also at Insight. And Jake and I ran that business for eight years, grew it up, and sold it to Magento in 2016 and then promptly the two of us co-founded a spin out called Stitch Data where Jake was a CEO, which we sold to Talend in 2018.
Bob Moore: And kind of the culmination of those two experiences was what brought Crossbeam to light because it was really challenges we saw in building and maintaining and getting value out of partnership ecosystems at those companies and the companies that acquired them that opened my eyes to the massive opportunity that existed at the intersection of partnerships and data and that’s really where Crossbeam sits.
Harry Stebbings: That is fantastic to hear and if only everyone could be as succinct in their entries as you were there. And I didn’t also know that you were dialing for dollars with Insight. That’s awesome to hear about being on the other side of the table on the dark side.
Bob Moore: And I was t nerdy engineer in college, so getting the opportunity to have to pitch, it’s really a sales job at the end of the day. You’re selling capital and I think it was a really transformative experience for me.
Harry Stebbings: Listen, I’m sure it is. I always say kind of tele-sales are the most important form of kind of training in terms of sales. But I do want to touch on some of the lessons you learned there. As you said from that very successful prior entrepreneurial experiences, because when we chatted before you said, “No one is coming to save you.” I thought this was a particularly interesting one to kind of pick up on. Specifically with regards to the last two endeavors and the journey of business building, what did you mean by the no one’s coming to save you?
Bob Moore: Yeah, if you think about that RJ Metrics journey, what I like to say about RJ is that it took us eight years to build an amazing three year old company. You go through your Buzzfeed article of 10 mistakes new entrepreneurs make, we can walk down that list and check them off one by one like yep, we did that. Yep, we did that. And after we had some time to kind of have some distance from it and think about some of the bigger learnings, I think one of the things that really bubbled up was how often we thought about the solution to our problems being external when they were there.
Bob Moore: And that external solution might be, hey, we just need that new investor that’s going to introduce us to the European market and then we’ll have a way bigger universe of people to sell to. Or hey, we’re having all these arguments internally about whether we should take the product down this road or that one. Let’s hire an amazing VP of product who’s going to answer this question for us and kind of have the frameworks to do it. Or hey, we missed our sales numbers last quarter, it’s got to be a management issue. We need to hire this new head of sales, who’s going to come in and change the way that we’re going to market. Kind of solve the problem.
Bob Moore: And I think with a little bit of distance, if you look at the things that we succeeded on and the things that we failed on, it was almost universally a direct result of very large fundamental vision level decision making that got done by the founders and honestly at really early stages of the business that ended up making the impact. And so much time, quarters and quarters spent on recruiting, spent on fundraising, spent on kind of kicking the can down the road on major issues around things as fundamental as what does it really look like to have product market fit in this market? What do we believe in as a company in terms of where we want the product to be in a few years? Things that the founders really just need to take ownership over and maintain ownership over for as long as possible.
Bob Moore: I think we let ourselves get away with waiting for external influences to solve those for us and I think it burned a ton of time that at the end of the day when we made those hires, we had an amazing head of product that we ended up hiring, an amazing head of sales, we had great investors around the table, none of them solved the problems that I’m talking about. It was big bold decisions that came from the founder level because at the end of the day, all of those people will just end up turning back and looking to you to make the final call. It really is this thing that has left me in a place where I feel like a strong vision, a founder with a lot of conviction, still backed up by data, is the most valuable and expedient possible asset you can have in one of these startups.
Harry Stebbings: Can I push back and ask, and I’m sorry this is off schedule, but as I said, we let the conversation flow. You said about the Buzzfeed mistakes that you made being the very conventional ones as a boardroom this day, I would say that that is my duty, given the hindsight that I have from investing in 30 plus companies before, other investors with much more experience, to actually guide you away from those very conventional mistakes. I understand with the much more nuanced intricacies, be it product strategy or perhaps evolution over time of open markets, but with the conventional mistakes, to me that’s the duty as a board to help. Is that not?
Bob Moore: It absolutely is. I think one thing about RJ Metrics that maybe goes on that list of mistakes is that even though we founded the company in 2008, the next thing that happened the day after we founded the company was the Lehman Brothers collapsed and the venture capital market was non-existent. We didn’t take our first dollar of outside capital until 2012 for that business. The business ran for four years completely bootstrapped. Just myself and Jake. I don’t want to say in a vacuum because we had our good friends from Insight helping with advice and whatnot and some good folks we added along the way, but we didn’t have a board, we didn’t have investors. We really ran through the gauntlet making all those first mistakes for ourselves and I think that’s probably something that’s on the list of mistakes.
Harry Stebbings: No, that’s fascinating to hear and my word, what timing, and I didn’t quite realize it was just as Lehman’s collapsed. I do want to talk about that element of no one coming to save you because part of that is you have to swallow some pretty hard truths at certain points. In terms of kind of the decision making there, how do you determine when is the right time to stop versus maybe the visionary approach of plowing through regardless? What does that decision making look like for you?
Bob Moore: I don’t mean to be dismissive of the major impact that outside players can have, whether it’s investors or executives. I think what is really important is that the existence of those people does not absolve the founders from needing to have a point of view and frameworks for making the same kinds of decisions those people make. The minute that you take the giant bucket of all the difficult things related to product and put it on someone else’s desk is a minute that you are failing as a CEO because that product person probably rolls up to you. The salesperson probably rolls up to you.
Bob Moore: And if you are, by expanding your team, not relinquishing yourself from those responsibilities, but you’re instead adding fire power, you’re adding opportunities to learn. But what you’re really doing is bringing another collaborator around the table. And I think in vetting for who those folks are that you bring along, I think you want to always find people that you can learn from, that you feel like will be additive to the conversation, but also people that you feel like will be collaborative and not necessarily kind of a dumping ground for the things that are the hard conversations you’re afraid to have or the hard decisions that you might feel like you don’t have the framework to make.
Bob Moore: And in making the decision as to whether to do A or B, I think it’s kind of a false choice. The idea is that you shouldn’t make the decision either to do it yourself or offload it. It’s that you should constructively build a team that’s going to be like assembling the Avengers where any one of them by themselves has amazing superpowers, but it’s the entire squad together that is going to save the world.
Harry Stebbings: I think that’s kind of really what defines the truly great CEOs and their ability to really, as you said, build that Avengers team. I am interested though in that CEO-ship element because as we said now this being your third time at the rodeo, if we don’t self reflect a little bit on yourself as a CEO, recognizing before and then now. How have you altered and developed as a CEO do you think?
Bob Moore: Yeah, I think there is a lot of the strategic and the tactical definitely mixed with each other. Where my brain jumps when I hear that question is actually to very tactical things where I feel like just having put the 10,000 hours in on a couple of previous companies allows for a certain amount of muscle memory or scar tissue or pick your biological metaphor, but things where your ability to just have a really strong instinct around how to spend time in the highest leveraged possible way and how to use other people’s time in the highest leveraged possible way just becomes really well grounded. And because of that you’re just able to operate in a much more efficient way. That feels like almost sometimes like you’ve got the cheat codes, like you just know how to put certain team members to the best possible use. What marketing strategies are going to work at different stages of the company, your best practices in hiring, in building company culture, in frameworks for thinking about mission, vision, and values.
Bob Moore: All those things the first time you do them they are painful and difficult to formulate. The next time it gets a little easier. The next time you feel like you actually have a time tested, battle worn process that makes it faster and makes the outcome better. And I feel like there’s a whole library of those things that just get developed as by virtue of time. But then on the strategic side, I think it also is a lot to what we were talking about before, which is where you put trust in others versus where you have an expectation of yourself building a certain level of confidence and conviction around decision making and setting the right milestones on the path and steering the company toward them.
Bob Moore: And to me it really–after all this time running all these companies, it still comes back to nothing is more important fundamentally than a strong vision that leads you to product market fit and those two things working together. And it’s just the old adage that money solves all problems. Really it’s more like product market fit solves all problems. You look at times when at RJ Metrics, when we had this incredible product market fit for a couple of years there where the leads were falling off our desk and just shooting in the door faster than we can handle them. Nothing mattered. All these little nuance things, all the little problems that creep their way out, challenges with keeping team motivated or anything else, it’s just kind of, I don’t remember anything from that time period, but trying to handle the growth.
Bob Moore: But then when the growth stops and very often growth slowing or stopping is some combination of product market fit issues or execution issues. All those little problems start to creep out and it starts to feel like there’s a million issues and you need a million, you need a real Swiss Army Knife as a CEO to solve them. But the reality is that I think the issues are an artifact of the fact that other things aren’t working and that allows them to pop their head out. The more you can do early on and several steps ahead to make sure your vision is in the right place, you’re being intellectually honest about where you are from a market fit perspective is hands down the most powerful thing you can possibly do.
Harry Stebbings: You mentioned the oversupply of leads there, always a nice problem to have and I do want to get slightly more SaaSy. I love that element and transition, but I do want to get more SaaSy in the way that we spoke before this call about channels themselves. And it’s an interesting one because for years channel sales was so dominant but now it seems to almost have completely died. I guess my first question would be, would you agree with me on the seeming death of channel sales in SaaS? And why do you think this is happening?
Bob Moore: Yeah, so I would agree that channel sales have really, in SaaS almost, it’s almost less like they died and more like they’ve never found firm consistent footing in how they get implemented by SaaS entrepreneurs. And I think at the core of that is really two things have happened in the market. With the business model of SaaS itself, it’s really fundamentally different than the business model of a traditional software licensed maintenance model. You look back at the S1s of enterprise software companies from 15, 20 years ago and really consistently you’ll see channel sales, system integrators, value added resellers as this major, in some cases greater than 50% of the revenue of the company being touched or driven by that. And a lot of that was just the mechanics of in a licensed maintenance world, maintenance is a real thing and A, there’s a big dollar amount that gets shelled out when an initial purchase happens, which makes buying a big services contract at the same time feel like less of a financial impact.
Bob Moore: It creates this justifiable expense for the secondary market of delivering services in conjunction with on premise software getting installed, but then B, the maintenance piece of licensed maintenance, it kind of needs someone to execute on it. And that would very often create this great for the VARs or for the system integrators to kind of have ironically have their part of the deal be the thing that has a real recurring revenue component to it. And what happened is in SaaS is that it flipped that model upside down and it actually gave the recurring revenue component to the software providers and delivery over the web eradicated a lot of what the services component of software delivery actually was because these on premise implementations and kind of the maintenance and management of all that, while it didn’t always go away and certainly not in an enterprise context, it definitely was reduced.
Bob Moore: And I think for the average SaaS company that you look at today, especially ones serving midmarket companies or in the cohort of the last five years or so, channel sales is kind of this ghost from the past that doesn’t even get mentioned until you’re at a 100 million plus in revenue and you’re starting to really go into big enterprises and you only need the channel for access to deals and not necessarily for implementations. That’s a big fundamental difference in SaaS and it’s a bummer because channel sales is awesome. Channel sales is this great force multiplier for companies that are trying to go to market and it makes you economically aligned with an army of third parties whose entire wellbeing is built upon them getting you more customers. Doesn’t that sound great? Like wouldn’t it be wonderful for any SaaS company that’s out there to have that army?
Harry Stebbings: Can I dive in? No, I don’t think it does because I’m obsessed with owning the entire customer experience site, the entire value chain. Why do you think that I’m wrong? Because I’m always concerned about the kind of deterioration of quality with channel partners in terms of the services side. Why do you think maybe that shouldn’t be a concern to me and it shouldn’t be a concern for entrepreneurs?
Bob Moore: Yeah, so I think your concerns are well grounded. I think what’s awesome about it is scale and there comes a point at which what got you here won’t get you there kind of thing start to kick in with marketing and going to market with any kind of business, not just SaaS, where when you’re growing a 100% a year and you’re at a million bucks of revenue, a couple of great blog posts might get you the leads to get you over the hump and then a little bit of SEO magic the next year it gets you the two million you need and some AdWords the next year it gets you the four million you need, but there comes a point when you’re at the tens of millions of revenue where maintaining growth rates at that level of scale almost necessitates the expansion of your sales force, quote unquote, to beyond just the people that are actually on your payroll.
Bob Moore: And that’s where I think channels historically have been a great source of growth for software companies, but where they’re kind of just not working out for SaaS in that way and things like the ownership of the user experience. Not only is it not advantageous to outsource it to them as you say, in some cases it’s physically impossible because the actual delivery of the product is happening via an experience that is definitionally controlled by the actual product company. It just kind of, these are the fundamental questions of this disparity of darn, the channel just is not nearly as relevant or prolific for SaaS companies as it has been historically in the software vertical and what’s next? What’s the thing that replaces that or that creates that value? That was really at the core of, to bring it back to Crossbeam, where there might’ve been a market opportunity for us to jump on. And spoiler alert, the answer is actually not channel sales. The answer is the thing that we think is going to fill in that gap and actually have all the benefits of the channel but work in the world of SaaS.
Harry Stebbings: Are you going to leave me on the cliffhanger of that?
Bob Moore: Yeah, that’s all the time we have today.
Harry Stebbings: Just waiting. That is the emerging trend. Come for part two. No, seriously I’m really intrigued. What is going to fill that gap? And what really drives the effectiveness in this case?
Bob Moore: Yeah, so what we’re seeing that is unique to SaaS and exciting and I think has been a very consistent drum beat at just about every company I’ve been involved with is how the maturity of the API economy and the maturity of the adoption of SaaS products and cloud software, even at the largest enterprises has created this new network graph of product companies that are all connected to one another through technology integrations and the tech partnership side of the partnership landscape. It’s really fascinating. You don’t need to look too far, you look at companies like Zapier that are out there basically creating this mesh that make all these products interoperable with one another.
Bob Moore: You go to the partner page of just about any SaaS company and what you will find is the fact that while every company kind of considers itself a platform, really what’s going on is that every company is participating in this massive interconnected ecosystem and the rate at which these tech partnerships are getting created, the rate at which they are empowering customers to use best in class solutions and stack those solutions on top of each other instead of buying large monolithic, hard to swap out systems like might’ve been true even as little as 10 years ago. All of these things are just reaching a certain snowballing effect where we can get really excited about what that means for the future of businesses collaborating with one another, not just to build great products but to go to market. And that’s the big leap that gets us really excited at Crossbeam, which is you can point to this incredible network graph of where data can flow in a way that benefits end users from company to company in this B2B SaaS universe.
Bob Moore: But what we feel like is kind of a missing piece is, there’s still hasn’t been a real codified set of best practices around how these companies can go to market together in a way that they can win deals alongside one another, service their customers in a way that is driven by and is collaboration and the interconnectivity between their products and ultimately grow and scale within their markets in a way that extends beyond just the people that are in their walls. The kind of partnerships or outside sales amplification that came from the channel back in a pre SaaS era, we believe that the new channel is actually these tech partnerships and that the what are called ISV relationships and kind of the older vernacular or these independent software vendors, it’s these partners that end up becoming your go to market fourth multiplier and helping enable companies to make that happen is really what Crossbeam is here to do.
Harry Stebbings: I do want to double click on that because this is too interesting. I completely agree with you on the interconnectedness and kind of the need to from the go to market perspective. If you’re an early stage company, though recognizing this today, I always think who’s responsible? Who’s accountable? Who in the team should be responsible for these partnerships? And how should we measure them and determine success?
Bob Moore: Yeah, so if you took just a random VC firm’s portfolio and kind of what the companies at different stages, I think the answer to that question involves as the company evolves. Typically at Crossbeam, our best customers are ones where you’ve got at least one person internally who’s got the word partnerships or business development somewhere in their title. And candidly that usually doesn’t happen until these companies are at least 50 to a 100 employees. But then what you find is by the time they get to 200, 300, 400 employees, these teams, these partnership teams tend to grow disproportionately quickly because it’s when you start to reach that level of scale that you can actually use these partnerships and these channels to great effect, to drive numbers to touch deals and frankly that people will pay enough attention to you to want to partner back.
Bob Moore: At that 50 plus era, there’s a function for this. Partnerships, success partner management, this is a real established thing where there are countless people at mid market and larger SaaS companies that spend their days on account mapping with their closest partners on identifying what’s that next tech partnership that should be built, on quantifying the impact of these partner programs on the sales pipeline and the deals that have converted. It’s a real known established thing that we’re basically building technology tools to help make more scalable and make the attribution better. At smaller than 50, which I think might’ve been more the crux of your question, it really boils down to putting the pieces in place to make sure that when you are participating in this broader ecosystem, once you have enough customers and once you have a mature enough technology product that you haven’t shut the door on the opportunity to form really powerful collaborations with other companies.
Bob Moore: And what that really means is kind of a fundamental value of just being very interoperability first, being very API friendly, making it such that both the data that gets generated in your platform and the data that comes from other platforms has a certain fluidity to it and that you’re kind of building for a future where the data that you are touching and generating has some portability and your customer has some control over how and where that data gets pushed and pulled and accessed because that’s the layer that ends up being kind of the technology foundation for building one of these really strong ecosystem friendly business models, which I think is just kind of table stakes at this point in SaaS.
Harry Stebbings: Well, I’m so glad I’m sticking to the schedule as planned, but I want to again deviate and ask, okay so if that’s the kind of technological foundations, totally agree there on the importance. What should the business model of foundations look like? And what would you advise founders in terms of actually how to structure the agreements, the rev shares? And how to think about actually monetizing their portability and interconnectivity of data?
Bob Moore: Yeah, and this is where in starting one of these companies, you almost look for where, what about our vision is contrarian? Or where are we kind of bucking the trend by taking a shot at this? And at Crossbeam, that’s where this starts to come in. Because if you ask a lot of founders or even folks that are much more accomplished in kind of in executive roles in later stage SaaS businesses, it’s not uncommon that they will tell you that partnerships is a total sinkhole. It’s a cost center. Partnerships is an area where you kind of feel an obligation to participate in this ecosystem fabric, but it’s extremely hard to actually quantify ROI. Partnerships people are expensive, attribution is fuzzy and it’s a little bit, it’s a cost center associated with doing business less so than something that actually drives growth. And the business best practices around doing this right is really trying to flip that model on its head and bring in people on these partnership teams that are held accountable to actual measurable, quantifiable outputs.
Bob Moore: You should be able to at the end of any given quarter, look at your closed deals and say, “Hey, we closed a 150 new customers last quarter. What percentage of them were directly and indirectly touched by our partnership ecosystem? And which partners? And for those deals did they close any faster? Is the ACV any larger? For the ones that were renewals, did those accounts renew at any greater rate or larger expansion than the ones that did not have influence that is attributable back to that partner ecosystem?” And I think where companies get challenged is that the data layer that’s necessary to actually do that analysis I just said is kind of missing. And the reason it’s missing is because half of it is in your partner’s CRM system, not yours. The knowledge as to whether or not it was their customer before yours or whether their sales rep had an interaction where they mentioned your product might actually be sitting inside of their Salesforce instance and not made its way over.
Bob Moore: And this is where if you think about the question of what does Crossbeam actually do, that’s when it comes into play because we were almost what you could describe as like an escrow service for data between these companies that are partnered with each other. We allow you and your partners to identify overlapping accounts, overlapping opportunities and the activities associated with them and collaborate on those shared and overlapping accounts without needing to worry about data that’s not relevant to your partnership permeating through to the other side. And by doing that, we unlock the half of the data that’s been missing to enable all these data driven decisions and a whole new universe of sales motions, partnership motions come into play where you can actually start building a partnership team and a partnership strategy that is data driven, that is attribution driven. That’s quantifiable, that you can set goals around, and that is the best practice. That’s what unlocks the ability to take this from something that feels like a cost center to potentially being one of the most powerful driving forces of growth inside of your SaaS company.
Harry Stebbings: You said that about the inflection point when maybe post 50 people, you really start see those roles being more defining, the partnership style positions being much more distinguished. I’m really interested though, given that it could be the potentially the biggest driver in terms of go to market and revenue driving ability, should it not be one of the first hires you make past the founding team?
Bob Moore: Yeah, it’s a great question and I think it depends very much on what your product is and the nature of how that product will come to market and forge its place in the ecosystem. Stitch Data where I was the co-founder, our business was data pipelines. We pulled data out of various SaaS tools and deposited them in your data warehouses for you. In that business, that was all ecosystem, no glory. Our first fundamental step out the door was let’s build integrations to 50 different SaaS tools and to the big public cloud data warehouse providers. And in that world, you better believe that the partnerships function was a very first function. It was kind of the CEO’s job and honestly the CTO’s job from day one, which was vetting these integrations because the business was integrations. And in that world, that business got acquired before it even got to 50 people because of the key role that it played in kind of the fabric of data connectivity.
Bob Moore: We had a very, very real, very strategic part of our business, which was our interactions with other companies being the key to our go to market motions and yeah, and that was at the ground level. That was a part of the CEO, the board talked about at every board meeting and it was part of the CEO’s core responsibilities. In that regard, yes. I think if you’ve got other companies that are maybe a little more downstream, maybe a little more in the workflows of an individual job function, it starts to come in a little later because when you’ve dug into what your core value proposition is going to be, which is question number one, question two then becomes how do we meet people where they are? How do we make sure that the data comes in from the places that it is the true primary source of?
Bob Moore: And then it is then able to be pushed out to the places where people want to interact with it. And there’s a partnership function emerging as well, but it’s very, very much at the product side and I think turning that product integration mindset into something where you’ve got a go to market layer on top of it, that’s when we start to talk about, okay, you’ve got scale, you’ve got influence in these ecosystems, and that’s what starts to kick in when you kind of get to that couple of dozen people mark or larger.
Harry Stebbings: I think clearly for round two we’re just not going to bother doing a schedule because we asked about 10% of it. It’s always a sign of a good conversation, Bob. I do want to move into my favorite though, which is the quickfire round. Essentially I say a short statement and you hit me with your immediate thoughts. Are you ready to rock and roll?
Bob Moore: I am ready to rock and roll.
Harry Stebbings: What’s the hardest element of your role with Crossbeam today, do you think?
Bob Moore: The hardest thing about my job is the opportunity cost of time and just having conviction that everyone’s time is being spent in a highest leveraged possible way. Because I do think that because of the network effects in our market, there’s kind of an argument for moving as rapidly and effectively as possible. And even if we’re doing great, there’s always those doubts of could we be doing better?
Harry Stebbings: I thought you were going to say working with Andy McLaughlin so that seems like a glorious one.
Bob Moore: That’s on the bumper sticker on my car so I don’t need to say it out loud.
Harry Stebbings: Andy, we love you very much, but tell me a moment in your life that served as an inflection point and changed the way you think.
Bob Moore: Yeah, I would definitely say in college, I studied engineering and Texas hold’em poker became really, really super popular. It was this giant zeitgeist in that era and I built it at my very first software product ever while I was a college student and it was a poker odds calculator that kind of ran alongside the online casinos. This is in 2004 and I built this thing and I put it online on a website and it was kind of for sale for 30 bucks a pop and I happened to do some SEO stuff so that I’d rank high for things like poker odds or how to win at online poker, things like that. And I woke up one morning and 20 people had bought the software. It was 600 bucks. It was like holy crap, that’s more money than I’ve made my entire month slicing deli meats down the block at the convenience store. And then I woke up the next morning and 20 more people had bought it.
Bob Moore: I think there was just like this, that was what made me fall in love with software was this infinite scalability that existed when you created something that really resonated with a market and a market timing and just created this tremendous ability to grow tremendously fast and in a lucrative fashion. And after that experience, I just never looked back.
Harry Stebbings: That’s an amazing thing to experience beyond, but tell me what do you believe now? The most around you maybe disbelieve.
Bob Moore: Yeah. I think the fundamental core of what we are doing at Crossbeam, if you look at it in the broadest possible sense, it really is this wholesale belief that data collaboration is a good thing between companies and I think there’s a lot of bad actors out there and a lot of really bad stuff going on in the world of data going from one party to another. You don’t need to look further than Cambridge Analytica or an unlimited number of headlines about data leaks to get extremely scared about anything that’s got the word data sharing within a 100 miles of it, but Crossbeam at its core is a company that’s actually kind of about data sharing. I think the thing that is special about us is it’s not data sharing in the sense of data leakage or in the sense of without the knowledge of the people whose data it is doing something that drives some unexpected behavior or unnatural behavior.
Bob Moore: It’s all about efficiency and productivity and collaboration and frankly control and transparency. We’re starting a business that’s about data collaboration in a market where those are two of the scariest words I think you could say. But I think that’s part of our contrarian view here is that there is not only still opportunity in a data driven source of collaboration, but because of the controls and constraints that exist, because of things like GDPR and CCPA, there’s actually a larger opportunity than ever to do it right, to do it responsibly and to build technology products that are in compliance with those things, but still use data as a lever for growth and that’s where we sit.
Harry Stebbings: Tell me, final one, as we said, third time at bat, what do you know now that you wish you’d known at the beginning of your first time starting first RJ Metrics?
Bob Moore: I wish I knew that there’s a difference between being lean and being cheap. At RJ Metrics, as I mentioned, we were bootstrapped for a really long time. There were days when I decided that it was worth my time to spend two hours to drive 30 minutes to buy a used Ikea chair for 50 bucks instead of getting the new one delivered from Ikea for a 150 bucks because hey, I’m saving 50 bucks an hour with that time, but when you get down the road and businesses get to scale and you start raising venture capital, that style of thinking I think becomes very compromising because, in reality, if you’re going for the gold and swinging for the fences, the magnitude on the upside is so great that being lean, being efficient is an asset, but being cheap and underpaying people by X percent because you can get away with it for a couple of years or deciding not to work with the incredible vendor and going for the below market one because you’ll figure out the issues with the technology you get on your own.
Bob Moore: These are extremely shortsighted decisions that when you look at the numbers on paper seem like rational ones, but when you take a step back and look at it over a 10 year time horizon, I never regretted spending more for a higher quality candidate. I never regretted raising more money or investing more money in having the best possible things sooner. I think the thing I regretted is letting time pass at the rate that it did and not acting faster with better equipment and better people along the way. And I think that’s really, that’s the mode of operating that we’re in right now and I think because of it we’re swinging for the fences in a way that just hasn’t been possible in previous companies.
Harry Stebbings: Bob, as I said in this show, the best ones for me are really when we totally just throw the schedule out the window. I’ve so enjoyed this. I couldn’t be more excited for Crossbeam and thank you so much for joining me today.
Bob Moore: Hey, thanks, Harry. Hope to do it again.
Harry Stebbings: I absolutely loved that discussion there with Bob. And we did not stick to the schedule at all, but if you’d like to see more from Bob, you can find him on Twitter at Robert J. Moore. Likewise, it’d be great to welcome you behind the scenes here at the show. You can do so on Instagram @hstebbings1996 with two Bs. I always love to see there.
Harry Stebbings: As always, I so appreciate all your support and I can’t wait to bring you a phenomenal episode with the Yusef Carr next week.