Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses for an audience of entrepreneurs. Joining me today is a guy who has three phenomenal companies, two of them sold, the last one, he is . . . well, he’s got some big visions for. And I have to be honest with you, I don’t know what he’s doing here. Like, this guy is huge. He’s huge.
Godard Abel is the founder of a couple of companies whose names you might’ve heard. They are both in the price quoting software space. The first is BigMachines. He built it, launched it, sold it to Oracle for $400 million reportedly. The second is a company he became the CEO of after investing in, and then he built it and sold it to Salesforce for $300 million. After either one of those, I read articles the guy could’ve just moved on with his life, taken it easy and done nothing, and still he continued.
His latest company, his site that I have used whenever I want to check up on the guests that I’m interviewing . . . Like, if someone’s selling software and I want to see what are their real customers? Not me as a guy who’s, like, getting ready to interview the founder. What are real users saying about the software? I go to the site called G2 Crowd, and that’s what he’s running now. He’s got big visions for it. I invited him to find out how he built those two companies, what he has in mind for G2 Crowd.
And I should introduce G2 Crowd properly by saying that when businesses are looking for software, that is a site they go to, to see what real users are saying about it, how they rate it, and to help them find the right software. This interview is sponsored by two companies. They both should be on G2 Crowd. If they’re not, they should be by the end of this conversation. The first will host your website right. It’s called HostGator. And the second will help you find phenomenal developers called Toptal.
Godard, good to have you here.
Godard: Oh, thanks, Andrew. Glad to be here.
Andrew: Do you remember when you sold . . . ? Well, do you remember when BigMachines was sold to Oracle? I know you kind of sold a big piece of it before, but when it was sold to Oracle, do you remember that day?
Godard: I do.
Andrew: What was that like? What was that day?
Godard: Well, I think I just felt really lucky. But I was thinking right away, I’m like, “Oh, wow. I can put this money into my next company.”
Andrew: Really? Like, right away, “I got to go back in”?
Andrew: Did you feel a sense of, “I got it. I crossed the finish line. I know that whatever it is that I thought I could do, whatever it is that I have is validated?” Did you sense any validation?
Godard: I had that more, and we did do it two-step. We first sold 51% to a private equity firm, [inaudible 00:02:35] capped in 2011, two years before. But I remember then having that feeling. Actually, I vividly remember the time I was living in Chicago and it was around the holidays. We were driving downtown with a couple of our friends to go to dinner, and I just remember, like . . . I think it was, like, that moment I got, like, the notice saying the money just showed up in your background. I remember seeing my friend, like, I’m like, “Wow.” It’s, like, the best moment of my life. I did feel elation because, for years, we had struggled in that company. And, frankly, I had my father invest a lot of money, we were almost bankrupt, and had years of anxiety. Like, the business was a cloud of fog in my head. And I did feel at that moment, like, “Ah, the cloud has lifted.”
Andrew: BigMachines, well, we should talk about why you came up with that name. But you mentioned your dad. Your dad’s experience is what led you to create BigMachines is what I read, am I right?
Godard: Yes. And my father was an entrepreneur in a very different kind of business. Actually, a company my grandfather started right after World War II in Germany. And, really, my grandfather in some ways inspired me the most as an entrepreneur, because he started in 1947 and . . .
Andrew: What did your grandfather do?
Godard: Well, he built a pump company, but he was [inaudible 00:03:39] in World War II in 1945, so two years later. And Germany was in rubble, you know, and he . . . Luckily, for him, he’d survived the war. He worked in the waterworks in Düsseldorf, one of the big German cities, kind of keeping the pumps and the water flowing. Before that, he’d been in the merchant marine kind of keeping pumps going on ships.
And in 1947, frankly he and his brother, they literally had nothing. My father tells me they kind of moved out to a farm. My father was born around that time, but, yeah, the first few years of his life, all they ate was potatoes. But my grandfather just had this idea. They were starting the coal mines in the Ruhr Valley, and he came up with a better pump to pump out all of the slurries so they could get the coal out of the pumps. But he bootstrapped it from nothing with his brother. And so I always keep that in mind. If have any challenges, I’m like, “Man, my whole life has really been a breeze,” compared to anything my grandfather had to do.
Andrew: And you literally will think that?
Godard: Yes. And my grandfather, too, I mean, he was born . . . He was probably in his late 30s when World War II happened, and to kind of . . . And it happened to, obviously, most of Europe, right? That was actually a horrible time, horrible war. But, for him . . . both my grandfathers were totally wiped out. And to be age 40 and have nothing, no home, no money, no job, no country, essentially, you know what I mean? Like, wow. And my life compared to that has just been, you know, running downhill.
Andrew: So I read in Built In Chicago, the website, that your dad’s experience in the pump business, watching him with the sales process is what inspired you. What was he going through? Help me understand the problem as you saw it through his experience.
Godard: Yeah. And this was in 1999, it was the dot-com era. And I’d wind up going to business school at Stanford in the middle of Silicon Valley. And that was really the first, you know, obviously big internet wave dot-com. And, you know, from ’95 when Netscape went public up until 2000 until it burst, it was just kind of a heyday. And I was out there. I actually getting involved in a startup called Alyanza, a little time and expense software company, kind of an early Java app.
But I was in the middle of the internet, you know, the Valley. And I went home for Thanksgiving ’99 to Pittsburgh where I drove out to my father. He relocated us from Germany to move his pump manufacturing company to start the subsidiary there. And I remember I was talking about the internet. I’m like, “Dad, so what’s it going to do to your business?” And even then, funny, at 20 years later, we’re always talking about getting Amazon. And I’m here at the Amazon conference in Las Vegas, their cloud computing conference. You know, my father’s reaction was interesting. I’m like, “So, Dad, isn’t the internet going to change your business?” He said, “No.” And I was like, “Well, Dad, what do you mean?” You know, like, in the Valley, you know, it’s going to change everything.
But then he kind of expected when people buy pumps, they’re very engineered and we configure a different pump every time we sell it. So he was still what my grandfather started. He’s pumping heavy slurries, [inaudible 00:06:08] pump coal. So they were very configured pumps. So, you know, for a different application, different slurry, you need a different pump, different motors, different housings, different couplings, different materials based on the chemistry of the fluid, the pressure, the flow rate.
And he’s like, “Look, I need a German pump engineer to generate that quote for the customer and, you know, put it all together for them.” And the really idea at that time, I saw what Dell was doing. And Dell, I think in ’90s, he’s especially an amazing entrepreneur, but he . . . Everybody started selling PCs online. One of the first guys to do that. And you could go configure a Dell PC, right? You pick your . . . “Hey, I want a Latitude laptop,” “I want a 14-inch screen,” “I want 256-megabytes of memory,” etc. But behind the scenes, there’s a rules engine making sure all of the components fit together, updating your pricing, and then you can just buy that online, or print out your quote, or do whatever you want to do.
And so my basic idea was, “Hey, Dad, I think, you know, you could sell your pumps like Dell sells those PCs.” And I think my father was skeptical, you know, but, ultimately, he agreed to invest in it. And then introduced me to one of his friends who is David Sculley. It was also in Pittsburgh. He was the president of Heinz Ketchup, but his brother was John Sculley. And so, you know . . .
Andrew: The Apple guy.
Godard: Apple, yeah. Some, like, famous, infamous guy. Before that, he’d actually been the CEO of Pepsi. And, actually, it’s in Steve Jobs’ biography, but, you know, actually, Steve recruited him to come run Apple with that famous line, “Hey, do you want to spend the rest of your life selling colored sugar water or do you want to come change the world?” And so, John . . . And I think, at first, he and Steve apparently got along great, but, obviously, they later had a falling out. But Steve and John Sculley was still a very famous guy. And he had an investment fund in New York, investing in early internet kind of software companies. And so I went to see him, and he said, “Okay. I’ll invest.” And then we were kind of off to the races.
Andrew: Was the idea that your dad would send his clients to his website to pick, configure, and buy the product, or to help him and his salespeople, when they’re talking to a client, configure it on their behalf without having to go back to an engineer and spend forever trying to come up with a quote?
Godard: And my original idea was to put it all online, 100% like Dell, you know, and straight to the customer. But I think we kind of quickly realized that wasn’t going to work, you know? And so it became more the latter you described. So it became . . . he actually had distributors, kind of third-party distributors, manufacturers, reps all around the world. And so it became, “Hey, help them . . . and more under a log-in, but help them go configure the pumps.” So it’s for the sales reps and his channel partners.
And then that’s what we wound up doing. Frankly, our next two companies really spent the next 17 years building 2 companies doing that. And that’s probably one of my biggest lessons as an entrepreneur. So I told my father and told John Sculley, “Hey, we’re going to build this in a year. We’re going to take it public in a year, and, you know, it would be amazing.” And, frankly, it took more than 10 years to get to where I thought we’d get in a year.
Andrew: Wow. And from the beginning, you were thinking, “I’m going to help people . . . ” The BigMachines’ name, I imagine, comes from, “Help people configure and sell big machines.”
Godard: Yes. And those pumps were big. And I’m thinking in college, I wanted to study mechanical engineering because I always thought I was going to go help my father build big machines. But then I sort of got . . . you know, I got up to the Valley for business school, and I got diverted because I just found tech so exciting.
Andrew: And were you thinking from the beginning, “I’m going to do this for my dad as the prototype, and then I’ll create . . . ” Almost like the Yahoo! shopping software was for small merchants, the software that would power the big merchants who were selling big products. That’s what you were thinking?
Godard: Yes, that’s what we were thinking.
Andrew: How did you know that it wasn’t going to work as an all-in online experience?
Godard: Well, I think we . . . And back then, it was still . . . I mean, the internet in its infancy. And part of it, frankly, people were still using dial-up. And, actually, we quickly found performance was a limiter, because, you know, back then, you just couldn’t . . . I mean, these pumps are just so complicated. You have 20, 30 options, and, you know, you’d choose one. And it’s not like it is today where everything feels really real-time. It was freaking [inaudible 00:09:59] low, and we found, “Oh, people need training under this.” And we just couldn’t make it intuitive and fast enough that a consumer would actually want to buy the pump that way. So then, we kind of quickly realized, “Okay, we were retreated a step.”
And even to get the distributors to use it required a lot of training and helping them even to make sure they got, you know, good internet access. And there were just a lot of limitations. Frankly, back then to make software perform was super hard. You know, there was no AWS, right? We had to buy our own Sun servers, we had to buy our own Oracle database licenses, we had to configure that. We had to build our own hosting. I mean, it was just so hard.
Andrew: Go to the colocation facility, rack your own servers, deal with it when it’s down. You launched 2000, the year 2000, right after the bomb happened, the dot-bomb experience. How did that shape your business, that fact that people didn’t seem to believe in the internet anymore and software anymore?
Godard: Yeah, and it was actually interesting. Because when I first . . . you know, we incorporated on 1/1/2000. I remember January 1, 2000, what I kind of did is like a fun thing. I’m like, “Hey, we’re going to be the company for the new millennium.” In hindsight, I was, like, pretty cocky, I guess, you know, or clueless, or both. But, you know, and at the beginning, too, I remember I was telling my friends, “Oh, I’m starting this internet company, people, and I got John Sculley investing.” They’re all like, “Oh, wow, that’s amazing,” right, like, “When are you going to be a millionaire or billionaire and retire?” And I remember about a year later, it was funny, going back to Pittsburgh the next holiday, everyone was like, “Oh, when are you going bankrupt?”
What made it was really hard because we were selling to manufacturers. And it actually got worse a year later because 9/11 happened and there was a big recession. I remember, like, early 2000, I called manufacturers . . . they kind of waiting to see it [inaudible 00:11:32] maybe to amuse themselves, you know? But it’d be like . . . at the end of the meeting, they’d be, like, so, well, A, I knew the internet was a fad, you know? B, you’re a dot-com, so when are you going bankrupt? And, C, there’s no way in hell I’m spending any money on technology, and especially not on your product. So, thank you very much.
And so it was really hard, you know? I think there were a couple of years, we only signed up two customers. And I had promised my investors, you know, we’d be signing up 50 a year. And so we went through a couple really hard years. And we did have to scale down the company. That first year we had that initial funding, we scaled up to 70 people basically based on kind of dot-com hype and hope. And then, you know, three years later, we scaled it down to 20 people. And then, you know, eventually, it finally started working, but it was a very hard process.
Andrew: Before we get to the started working, let’s talk about the year 2003 and then what happened in 2004. You told our producer, Brian Benson, 2003, you almost went bankrupt. Why? Lack of customers? Excess expenses on people? What was it?
Godard: Both. And, honestly, we had the good fortune in our first years with the dot-com hype, you know? We’ve raised about $25 million that first year. But we burned through . . . you know, we were down to, let’s say, about $1 million and we were still burning, I don’t know, close to $100,000 a month. So the math wasn’t very hard. It was like, hey, this thing is about to end. And so, you know, my co-founder and I, you know, we just scaled it down further to kind of the minimum, to kind of the 20 core people.
And, at that point, we got enough revenue up with about $1 million a year. So we kind of got at that point where we were like, “Okay, if we execute well for a few months, we’ll actually be able to start making money. And from there, you know, we’re just going to have to grow it organically.” But it was very hard, because the other option, it would’ve been, “Hey, let’s just give the million-plus bucks back to our investors and call it a day,” you know, chock it up, collapse, and burn.
But I think my co-founder, Chris, and I, we just . . . you know, we were good friends from college, and I think just neither of us wanted to quit. It wasn’t really rational. And the other thing we did see, by that time, we had about 1,000 early customers. And the manufacturer that actually bet on us, it was working for them. So we said, “Hey, the idea works. You know, the market obviously isn’t here right now, but if we persevere, you know, we believed, eventually, it would start working.”
Andrew: I’m looking at an article on Forbes back when Forbes meant something. From the year 2000, it seems like you had some really . . . I can’t read this article super clearly, but did you guys have . . . where was it? You have pretty big-named clients. Did you have DuPont as a client?
Godard: Well, kind of. Frankly, in hindsight, that was more of a pilot. Yeah, we were doing some good dot-com PR, but we did a handful of good customers. And I think the ones who really stuck with us, I remember a pretty good one, a fairly big manufacturers company, SPX Lightnin. They were kind of our lighthouse customer, and, you know, it was about a $3 billion manufacturer. But one of their business units, I remember their president, Jay Caraviello, he was a real visionary. And, you know, he stuck with us.
And we kind of had, you know, as I mentioned, kind of had about a dozen early customers I’d really believed. And they were those classic early adopters, right, who actually believed. All of their manufacturers and their distributors were complaining. They believed online was the way to go and it was going to happen. And those customers we worked with really closely to also really made the product work. And frankly, that also took a couple years until it was really good and really started to work for their distributors, for their salespeople. And that is what ultimately did . . . you know, turned it into a real product.
Andrew: Check out the dig, by the way, in this article. The company is backed and advised by Sculley Brothers, L.L.C. “Given John Sculley’s record at Apple, let’s hope brother Arthur is doing most of the advising.” He had to deal with this for years, and maybe to some degree, even more today. What was he like, John Sculley as an advisor? Someone who’d been in tech, someone who had done a lot of advising and investing. What was he like? Do you have an example of something that helped you with, helped you think through?
Godard: Yeah. I mean, I think he was very . . . I mean, he was very supportive. And I think to his credit, I think he’s still, like, a very optimistic visionary. You know, and like you said, it would be hard to go . . . anyone to go through what he did, you know, especially, by that point, Apple hadn’t turned around and become super successful again, right? It was still kind of dying.
But I think about where he was great. One particular thing I remember was figuring out how to find other investors, but one of my co-founders, Eugene, he had a friend of a friend who knew the Krafts, you know, the owners of the New England Patriots. And so, really, I mean, one of the best ways John helping us put together that first angel round because I think the Sculley brothers had about $0.5 million but turned into $6 million round very quickly. We got, like, famous people, including . . . And, actually, I got to fly up. I vividly remember, I got to fly up to Boston, meet with Jonathan Kraft and Bob Kraft. But I think the only reason Bob Kraft took the meeting, he wanted to meet John Sculley.
And then I remember going to the meeting, and I had wound up with his son, Jonathan, who you often see now in The Press Box at Patriots games, and actually also very smart, you know, Harvard MBA, all of that. But then, I think Bob was like, “Oh, John. Let’s go,” like, took him to his office. You know, Jonathan and I sort of chatted. He asked the question about the business, and I’m like . . . Bob and John came back, he was like, “Okay, we’re in.” You know, and they invested, like, $0.25 million.
And then I think that Krafts actually . . . One funny part of the story was I think they did a lot of internet investments, some were successful, some not. I think they kind of wrote us off, and then I think they’re really pleasantly surprised, about 10 years later, they actually got . . . you know, they got a significantly bigger check back. But that was a fun part of the journey. And that’s where John, John was really helpful in terms of just business development, and, you know, he would still a draw with investors and customers.
Andrew: I don’t want to do too much of the bummer period. I want to, like, figure out how you grew it. But I know that you talked to our producer, Brian Benson, about how 2004, you had twins. They were both born premature. While you were dealing with this . . . And you told them that there was even a sales call customer who’s supposed to meet you and didn’t show up. It’s amazing that you remember it now over 15 years later because . . . ?
Godard: Yeah, it was near-death. And, as I mentioned, you know, 2003, my co-founder, Chris, and I, we scaled down the business. And we’re like, “Hey, you know, we need a few deals to get profitable.” And this was, and I mentioned, this manufacturer, SPX, we had one of their divisions, Lightnin. And this was another division that the SPX process controls. And we were based in Chicago, but we drove up to Wisconsin. They were in a town called Delavan, Wisconsin, which is kind of, you know, about an hour north of the border of Illinois. But Chris and I were really excited. We had this opportunity to present to Don Canterna, the president of that business. And we’d done some work with his team, and we thought, “Hey, we’re going to go. This is going to be kind of our closing meeting.” And we get this $200,000 deal and $200,000 check, that’s basically going to fund our business, you know, for the next few months.
But I do vividly remember, we show up in the lobby and we’re like, “Oh . . . ” You know, went up to the receptionist. Chris and I were like, “Oh, where’s Don?” The receptionist was like, “Oh, Don’s not here today.” And, you know, we had no notification. I still to this day don’t know what happened, but I do remember that was kind of . . . it felt like the bottom for me. And then, I think, yeah, as, you know, I mentioned to Brian, our twin boys, Gavin and Gray, they were born that same year, May 13th, 2004, and, you know, they were born 30 weeks and 5 days. You know, and it’s obviously quite scary. My wife actually went on bedrest for 27 weeks. And I think, as we were first-time parents, you know, I was like, “Everything’s going to go normally.” And . . .
Andrew: I’m thinking that normally is chaotic, and . . .
Godard: Yeah. But I think . . . we obviously kind of assumed it was going to be normal, you know, in full-term. I wasn’t even thinking about it, and then, all of a sudden, it’s like, “Oh, man. I need to start reading, like, about all of the things that could go wrong with, you know, premature birth.” And we started in a NICU, you know, neonatal intensive care unit.
But I remember, like, what felt like [inaudible 00:19:02] one day, it was shortly after Don didn’t show up for our meeting. But I was driving to the hospital to, you know, visit my wife and kids. And, you know, I was like, “Oh, man.” I was just like, “Oh, man. Life can’t get any worse than this.” You know, my business is going bankrupt, my kids are born in the hospital, and I don’t know if they’re going to, you know, kind of really develop. And it was just like, “Oh.” It just feels like . . . you know, this is never going to get any worse.
Andrew: How are they doing?
Godard: They’re actually doing amazing, and now they’re 14 years old. They’re in 8th grade and, you know, they’re great runners, and mountain biking, skiing. Yeah, phenomenal boys. So we got really lucky there. Ultimately, it didn’t have any major complications, and, you know, we were able to come home a few weeks later out of the NICU. And kind of ironically, after that moment, I kind of felt some relief as well. I’m like, “Okay. It can’t get any worse.” So, it’s like, in some way, it feels like a relief. Just accept it.
And, from there, it felt like my life, on all dimensions, just started getting better. You know, as I mentioned, our boys are, obviously, many years later, doing great. And the business gradually started . . . Actually, funny, and we went to . . . Like, three months later, we actually got to meeting with Don, and we actually got the contract. And the funny thing is, like, Don never even . . . and I never really mind. He never even explained or apologized for the first time as if nothing happened. Yeah, but the next time we drove up, and that was two or three months later, and, you know, we got the deal and everything started working. But it was certainly a tumultuous journey.
Andrew: And it started working because what? Because you cut your expenses but also because the market and the software started to get ready for your vision. Meaning, the software could work fast enough, people started believing again in technology. Am I right?
Godard: Yes. And that was certainly true. And the other big turning point part of our story was that around that time, I also met Marc Benioff, you know, the founder and CEO of Salesforce. And he came out . . . it was around the time that Salesforce was going public in 2003, but he was doing an event in Chicago. And I just went up to him, he was a giving a presentation. That time, there were about 200 people in the room. I just walked up to him afterwards, I’m like, “Hey, Marc.” You know, we were an early Salesforce customer, kind of their prototypical early dot-com customer. And we actually believed running everything online and what today you’re calling a cloud.
And so I’m like, “Hey, Marc. I love your product. And I think our sales configurator, our quoting software could fit really well with yours. We’d love to partner with you.” And it was actually good timing because he was like, “Oh, yeah. You know, I’m just starting up my partner program,” and he introduced me. He was like, “Oh, meet this guy, Chuck [Colson 00:21:19]. He’s building my partners.”
And, you know, we talked to him, and we started building up a partnership. And that’s a good [inaudible 00:21:26], but, ultimately, I really give Marc and Salesforce a lot of credit. They really popularized the cloud. And, obviously, today, every business is running almost everything in the cloud, but they were really the big pioneer that made bigger companies start to trust it. And, obviously, Salesforce moved up market. And then to begin, they had a very plain vanilla just Salesforce automation system. It wasn’t even CRM.
But then they started . . . you know, by 2005, 2006, they started moving up market. And 2007 is when our business really started taking off because Salesforce started selling to big companies. Remember Ricoh? You know, a big copier company. But Ricoh was running Siebel, and Salesforce wanted to get in there. And Siebel had their own sales configuration pricing quoting app, and so Salesforce started to need us as a partner to win deals against Siebel. And then, all of a sudden, you know, they started taking us into big deals, and we got Ricoh, we were able to win GE. And all of a sudden, everyone wanted it in a cloud, and all of a sudden, our terrible idea from five or six years earlier, it was actually a really good idea. And so the market came, and then Salesforce was the great partner, and we kind of rode, you know, their tailwind.
Andrew: You know, one of the things that I wondered about your sale was it happened two years after you sold 51% of the business. Did it feel to you like, “Oh, if I would’ve held on for another two years, I could’ve done even better?” Or did you feel, “This is good. This got us to that level where we can sell to Oracle?”
Godard: I mean, I think it was both. I think it was more the latter. Because, frankly, once we sold, you know, I knew the deal we were doing the first time, and that was tremendous relief. You know, because, frankly, all of my early investors including John Sculley, the Krafts were able to actually make money on that deal if they wanted to. They kind of had the choice, they could sell on this recap or they could hold on. And so, obviously, financially, in some ways it’s dumb because Oracle, three years later, paid, you know, kind of three times per share what, you know, we got paid, those of us that sold it. And if I held on, you know, enough of my shares as a big financial win. That’s kind of where I started. At that time, I actually felt great because I already started G2. And I’m like, “Oh, wow. This is . . . ”
And that actually gave me the extra money I then used to buy SteelBrick. And that was like, “Oh, this is all goodness.” And so we parlayed it into other amazing things. And frankly in hindsight, I was also lucky. If I had been there until the end with Oracle, I think I wouldn’t be able to build these next businesses. Because my co-founder, Chris, who’s still . . . actually, he’s still at Oracle running that business. And it’s been great for him, too, but I was also lucky I was already out. And, frankly, I had been out of the CEO role for exactly two years. It was also when my non-compete expired. So it’s almost like the heavens aligned and it was like . . . Oh, when I met this entrepreneur Max who had started building this SteelBrick product. And he’s an amazing developer, engineer, but, really, he didn’t know how to build a business. You know, raise money, do sales, and do marketing. And so, you know, he and I decided to partner right after Oracle bought BigMachines.
We also thought there would be a big gap in the Salesforce ecosystem. So, obviously, Oracle and Salesforce, you know, Larry and Marc are sort of frenemies at this point. And, you know, so we knew there would be a gap in the Salesforce ecosystem. We were like this product, and so we decided, you know, we . . . And, at first, me and a couple of the other guys from BigMachines, we put $5 million of their own money in the company, and then it just kind of rolled from there.
Andrew: And, essentially, what it did was the same thing as BigMachines but for smaller . . . I think it was for SMBs is what I understood from the beginning?
Godard: Yeah. And it was less for . . . obviously, BigMachines is built for big manufacturers. And, really, then Max started . . . he started in Palo Alto, so he built it more for mid-market software companies. So some of his early customers are companies, like, Cloudera, which [inaudible 00:24:41] went public, but he’d start selling them when they were kind of Silicon Valley startups, and kind of when they get to like having 10 sales reps and they wanted a better way to price and quote their software.
And Max built it up 100% on top of Salesforce only for Salesforce, so it was really easy for a smaller Salesforce customer to deploy his quoting app. And that’s where he finds a big advantage, because the problem with BigMachines, it was a big implementation, and, you know, so it would take a lot more effort. Whereas Max’s product could be spun up almost overnight right on the Salesforce platform, and that’s when we said, “Oh, wow. This is kind of . . . ” Yeah, we think this is a next-gen product that we could really sell to thousands of Salesforce customers, and, ultimately, that’s what happened.
Andrew: And you came in as an investor first?
Andrew: And then?
Godard: Then as a CEO kind of at the same time, and that was kind of the deal. And Max, you know, he was the founder, but he also agreed. And he became the CTO, so he could really focus on his genius 100% building the product, and I could focus on, “Hey, let’s build the business around that amazing product.” And I brought over Matt Gorniak who was our head of sales at BigMachines, and he really helped me save the company. So he joined us in 2004, and he also . . . He and I kind of just learned together how do you sell, and that’s actually when I also met Max Altschuler. You know, I mentioned him from the earlier talk with Sales Hacker. But also, you know, kind of learning how to sell, which really as an entrepreneur, I think I was overeducated. You know, I had gotten in MBA and all of that, and I’m thinking that was not useful for being an entrepreneur. I kind of had to learned to be old-fashioned, like, hey, let’s go knock on some door and sell some software. And that’s what Matt and I learned together, and then we brought those years of learning over to SteelBrick, and we were able to scale that business, you know, 10 times faster.
Andrew: I feel like, by the way, you mentioned Max, the founder of Sales Hacker. I was a little bit too effusive in that interview. There’s something about him that excites me, and I was taken by surprise by my excitement with him. What was it about him that drew you to him?
Godard: I think it’s similar. I think he has a very special energy. But he’d met, actually, a couple of the guys, my guys at G2 Crowd, Olivier, who’s actually our head of sales in San Francisco. And he and Max got to know each other, and I think Max had convinced Olivier to become part of his community. But then I had the same feeling. As soon as I met Max, he was just energizing. And I did listen to the interview, and I remember I’m like, “Wow. Andrew’s, like, a really . . . like, it’s going to be a really fast-paced type of interview.” And I think Max draws that out in people.
Andrew: Yeah. I didn’t mean to be that way. I know that I’m not at my best when I’m that excited about someone and it’s a little too much. Let me take a moment, actually. I’m a little too excited about you. I’m looking at my clock, and I’m definitely going over with the advertising. I should tell everyone . . . but how interesting. I love that you called BigMachines, like, your bad idea suddenly took off. I’m going to say to anyone who’s listening to me. If you’ve got a bad idea, take it over to HostGator. In fact, here’s what I would suggest. When you go to hostgator.com/mixergy, that middle option . . . I don’t get paid any more whether you take the small, the big, any of that. But if you go to the middle option, it’s going to give you unlimited domains. That will allow you to spin up every crazy idea that you have into a website to see how it feels, to see how the world reacts to it. And then, if you like it, if they like it, you can build it into a business. I love that thing.
The other thing that I like about that middle option, which gives you unlimited domains, is something I learned from Seth Godin. When he has a new idea, he doesn’t turn it into another page on his site, he doesn’t turn it into a subsection of his site. He just fires up a whole new domain. He gives it its own personality, its own brand, its own existence for people to go and interact and sign up. It’s incredible what just having a website to express your idea does to that idea. Adds credibility, draws people in, allows you to really build it out. If you have an idea right now, bring it to hostgator.com/mixergy. If you hate your hosting company, congratulations. Most hosting company suck. Welcome to the realization that yours is not good. Go to hostgator.com/mixergy. You will be happy.
Now, I’ll tell you this. If you’re not happy, I’m not hiding. I’m right here at 201 Mission Street or firstname.lastname@example.org. I want to know. If you’re even a little bit unhappy with my sponsors, I want to know about it because I only want to get you guys the best sponsors on here. hostgator.com/mixergy, you’ll be tagged as a Mixergy customer as soon as you go there. I will get credit, which thank you very much for doing it, and you’ll get the lowest price from HostGator that’s out there, hostgator.com/mixergy.
You know the thing that stood out for me as I was going through your timeline? G2 Crowd, you started 2012, and then you went to SteelBrick, 2014, and then you came back to G2 Crowd. When you’re starting out with your friends, when you’re starting out this business, G2 Crowd, and you suddenly go because you’re distracted by SteelBrick or attracted to it, how does that come across?
Godard: Yeah, and I think . . . And, luckily, Tim Handorf, he was one of our co-founders at G2 Crowd. He did a great job stepping in as CEO. And I think we really had a team that, you know, I could count on, and we did trust each other. And, frankly, we all knew G2 Crowd, like, at that time, was going a little slower than we thought. And, really, the key at that time was really just, “Let’s just develop a product. Let’s get [inaudible 00:29:26] reviews.”
And Tim had been our product leader at BigMachines, and, frankly, to kind of do that job, I think he was even better at . . . and he did a great job, you know, rallying . . . At that time, there were 15, 20 people in the company. He did a great job focusing rallying that team and getting that to a critical mass. And then frankly, I was kind of lucky where, you know, by the time . . . SteelBrick much more quickly than we thought got bought by Salesforce. And by the time I successfully integrated SteelBrick into Salesforce, I was kind of ready to kind of figure out, you know, what’s next? You know, G2 Crowd was just at the stage where it was kind of a perfect platform where we thought, you know, it would be great for me to come back and really help scale it to the next level.
Andrew: Any issues with SteelBrick? Like, it seems like that was an easier one because it’s so similar to what you’ve done before. In many ways, it was more advance software. It seems like that was just an easy one.
Godard: It kind of . . . I mean, honestly, it felt like it. And, actually, BigMachines, I know we had a board meeting in, like, 2007. I had this crusty old investor, Dick Labreque, very smart man. He’s the president of ITT, but he’s like, “Godard, in seven years, I had never seen you define a sales claim you could hit.” And I thought that was painful. And, frankly, from there, the next four years, we visited our sales claim but we missed for, like, 28 quarters in a row.
And SteelBrick, you know, I was running the company, actually, for seven quarters before we got acquired, and every single quarter, we hit our plan. And so, it did just work perfectly, but it was . . . And I think it was very different, right? We had product market fit because the cloud was booming, Salesforce was booming. We had the perfect team that knew how to sell the product, so everything did just work. And investors were dying to invest in it because it was a proven team, same thing, hot ecosystem, and so it did just work. But I think without those, you know, seven years of suffering at BigMachines, we never would’ve been able to have that success.
Andrew: What’s the deal by the way with the names? SteelBrick, BigMachines, why not something a little bit more internet-like?
Godard: Yeah. I don’t know. And, obviously, BigMachines, you know, was my father’s pumps. They were big machines. And I was a mechanical engineer, as was my co-founders. As mechanical engineers you always think the big metal stuff is the cool stuff to work on. And so it’s a bit of that, you know? And SteelBrick, frankly, Max had already named it that way. And, obviously, we loved the name, and so we just went with it.
Andrew: Why SteelBrick?
Godard: And actually it was interesting. He’s an engineer, and it’s very hard to name a company. And all of you entrepreneurs, you know, like, you start brainstorming and then you start [checking 00:31:40], you know, with HostGator or GoDaddy or whatever. So, oh, man, every idea I thought of, somebody already has, somebody has a trademark, somebody has a URL. And what Max did . . . so he built an algorithm, kind of, of adjectives and nouns, and just see [inaudible 00:31:55] running it against the domain name checker and a trademark checker.
And, actually, it’s interesting. At first, what he came up with was YellowBrick, but then he talked to some of his friends . . . And Max is from Russia originally so he wasn’t aware of, you know, “The Wizard of Oz.” And my daughter was just in that play, and people were like, “No, Max. Like, that’s like the yellow brick road. It won’t work.” And then, SteelBrick, he just liked it. And then maybe it’s also like his Russian roots, you know? Who knows. And he went with it.
Andrew: Do you remember the day that that sold to Salesforce?
Godard: Well, I most remember it vividly. It was kind of the day . . . and it wasn’t the day that it was actually sold, but I remember the meeting with Marc Benioff that precipitated the sale. And, you know, what’s interesting about that, we’ve been a partner and they’d invested in us a couple of times. I remember the last investment round, they were . . . you know, Salesforce was saying, “Hey, we’d like to invest more,” and I’m like, “Okay.” You know, I had all these VCs that wanted to invest. I’m like, “Well, why?” And they were like, “Well, Marc really likes it.” And I was like, “Well, then I’d love to meet Marc.” And I had that chance to meet him one-on-one to kind of, you know, give him our partner pitch.
And then they said, “Hey, no, but Marc’s very busy, so let us invest first and then we’ll set up the meeting.” And, you know, so that all happened, but then about two months later, I got to go pitch Marc in San Francisco. And, actually, he has a home office, so I got to go to his house which is, like, amazing. You know, it’s up kind of over the Pacific Ocean, right? You can see out to the Lands End and probably just amazing views. And he actually bought this house as a home office, and so the kind of living room, they converted it to the big boardroom.
And I always remember, like, Marc, he impressed me with his larger-than-life figure and kind of like Golden Gate Bridge, Lands End behind him. You know, and that is like . . . I had prepared, obviously, my partner pitch. I had, like, 15 slides. I remember I got, like, two slides into it, and Marc says, like, “Hey, just show me the demo.” And I’m like, “Right now?” And he’s like, “Right now.”
So I showed him the demo, and then . . . What’s interesting about, you know, I don’t know, 30 minutes in the meeting, after I did the demo, Marc, you know, turned at one of his colleagues who’s in the room. He’s like, “Hey, what should we do here with SteelBrick?” And the guy was like, “Oh, they’re a great partner. You know, we love them. We’ll keep partnering.” And then Marc just turned up, he’s like, “No, I think we should buy the company.”
And that was kind of . . . it was very unexpected. And then I kind of . . . you know, and then he turned to me. And, at first, I was like, “Hey, that’s not what we’re looking for.” We just placed all of this money. We want to take our company public, build our big own dreams. But then, he gets very convincing, and we have such a close partner that, ultimately, we decided it made sense. But I do remember that very vividly.
Andrew: You then went back to G2 Crowd. Let’s come back in a moment to talk about the original vision of G2, and then what drew you back and why you think this is going to be the big one. First, I want to tell everyone about a site called Toptal. I’m actually on g2crowd.com looking at Toptal to see what people’s feedback is. One person’s feedback is about the blog as a contributor, so I’m just not going to include that even though they gave him four out of five stars. So it’s a good blogging platform for developers.
But what they’re all about is hiring talent. And so there’s a person here who, July 24, 2008, wrote a review of Toptal, and here’s what the person said. What he liked best, the curation of talent is strong when it comes to software dev skills. What do you dislike? It can be very pricey even for small projects. True. And then, finally, what business problems are you solving with the product? What are the benefits? Short-term tech talent.
This person didn’t write much, but I think they nailed it. When you’re looking for curated talent, people you can hire, and get them up-and-running because they’re the best of the best, even on the short-term basis, Toptal’s the place to go. And I think this person’s right. If you’re comparing them to some of the other freelancing platforms on G2 Crowd, they are going to be more expensive 100%.
But I think if you’re listening to me and you’re thinking Toptal is out of reach, you’re just . . . you’re missing out. Call them up by going to toptal.com/mixergy, hit that big, blue button. Schedule a call with them and tell them what you’re looking for. They will help you find the best of the best developers, and I think you’ll be surprised. You’re going to get Google-level developers at a fraction of the price because many of those developers, in fact, almost all of them, do not live here in the Bay Area. They live in South America, they live in Eastern Europe, they live where they grew up. And they could get Google jobs, but they choose to work and live wherever they are.
Go to toptal.com/mixergy. You’ll get 80 hours of Toptal developer credit when you sign up and pay for your first 80 hours in addition to a no-risk trial period. Go get the details on top as in top of your head, tal as in talent, toptal.com/mixergy. And then go onto G2 Crowd and give your review, not of the blog, of hiring from them.
What was it about G2 Crowd that . . . ? It seems so out of character. Two businesses that do something so similar, and then a third one that doesn’t. What was the original idea?
Godard: Yeah. And it was inspired by my time at BigMachines. And part of my frustration at BigMachines was, like, a lot of enterprise software companies . . . There’s this firm called Gartner, and, you know, I’m thinking somebody has recently told me, Gartner’s only for people over 45. And now, I’m 47, so I still know what Gartner is. But it’s obviously traditionally an [analyst 00:37:01] service and they had published these magic quadrants that rate software vendors. And, frankly, if you’re trying to sell to large enterprises, which we were at BigMachines, they’re very influential, or at least traditionally. Because big-time CIOs will look to Gartner to say, “Hey, what products can I trust?”
But what was very frustrating as an entrepreneur was it’s a very slow process, and it took us 9 years at BigMachines just to get in the Gartner report, 12 years to become the leader. But it’s a very . . . And they have some very smart analysts, but it’s a traditional research process. And sometimes I say it’s a bit like Encyclopedia Britannica. They also have very smart writers, right? They do permanent research, they publish something. It was kind of like publishing a book. They do a year of research, they publish it, they only update it two years later.
And, frankly, in tech, we were growing so fast that by the time they publish it, it was a year out of date. And then they wouldn’t update it for two years, which is very frustrating because I never felt like we were getting the credit for all our momentum and growth that we should’ve been. And it was also, I felt, misleading the buyers in that sense.
But the other big trend we saw by 2012 when we started in our consumer lives. You know, if you go to Amazon, right? Anything I buy, I use reviews, right? I go to a restaurant, I go to Yelp. I go to a new city, I go to TripAdvisor. And we just thought this resource was missing, and a lot of our customers were really confused. And with BigMachines, CPQs, it kind of obscures software niche. And I think a lot of our customers were confused. They’d send us the wrong RFPs and they wouldn’t really know when to call us and when not to call us.
And so we just thought, “Wow. Could we rate something, like, reviews on Amazon?” You know, just like we have reviews on books, on TVs. Can we create that same resource for businesses, for entrepreneurs where they can find technology based on peer advice and real-time feedback, and we can rate in real-time based on real customer voice? It would just, you know, help our whole industry. It would help everyone in business that needs technology and every business today needs technology more than ever. So it really helps them realize their potential.
And if you’re a vendor also, you have customers that love you, it just amplifies your success. And, right now, for example, on G2, number one is Slack. And probably no surprise when you’re in San Francisco in tech, right? Like, everyone uses Slack, you know, but Slack has 15,000 amazing reviews. And, now, we’re actually with a partner. We’re launching a site in Japan, where also people in Japan now can see why do people love Slack. So all around the world, businesses are, frankly, technically, we use the same technology. And G2 is a great platform where they can find that advice and figure out, hey, what is the right tech for their business. That’s the idea.
Andrew: You know, you look at this. You actually have the four quadrants on your site, too. I had never noticed it because I would look directly for a specific product. But if I’m looking for, say, bot software, which . . . I wonder why Slack is listed under the bot software category. You have the quadrant, the G2 Crowd grid for productivity bots.
Andrew: To help me compare them to their competitors.
Godard: Yes. And Slack does offer . . . I don’t know if it’s Slack, our partner, but they do offer some bots, right? You can enable things that happen automagically on Slack.
Andrew: Right. I guess I would think of them more as a chat category.
Godard: True. And they are in that. And, frankly, what you’ll see on our site, I mean, one product and one brand can be in many categories. And then we ask the user what they’re really using it for, and so if they show up in the bot category, that means at least 10 reviewers have said, “Yes, I used this product . . . ”
Andrew: Because of the bot?
Andrew: And the revenue model is that . . . it’s kind of like a Google revenue model where people can highlight their result, am I right?
Godard: Yeah. You could say Google, or a bit, frankly, like Glassdoor, you know, which you’re probably familiar with. Some of the company, they do employee reviews. And then, yeah, but if you’re a recruiter, you want to claim your own profile, embed your own recruiting videos and your own messaging. And G2’s the same way. And you’re there for free, the nice thing, it’s a freemium platform. And we’ve designed it for startup entrepreneurs like ourselves. You can get great validation, be ranked number one on G2 even if you don’t pay us a penny.
Slack doesn’t pay us a penny, but they are still ranked number one because they have the best reviews. In that way, we keep it pure, you know? So it’s kind of like . . . I mean, and Google and who knows what SEO, right, but they claim their algorithm is pure. And ours is very much is where, you know, it doesn’t matter if you pay us, but as a marketer if you do want to embed your own calls to action, if you want access to all of the backend data. Because we also do data analytics. We can tell you what companies are shopping for what products, which as a tech marketer is super useful.
Andrew: Oh, really? So you could tell me that somebody’s been searching for LiveChat? Or you could tell Intercom? I think Intercom is one of your . . . has claimed their page, right?
Godard: Yes. Now, in Intercom, you could see . . . Intercom could see, “Hey . . . ” And we don’t tell you the individuals because, obviously, that’s kind of creepy and even privacy. But we can tell you which companies are shopping, and individuals, we’ll tell you, but only if they raise their hand. Intercom can put a CTA and say, “Hey, they’re going to request a demo.” [inaudible 00:41:32]
Andrew: And they do that? They try Intercom free demo, they also have the ability to write . . . I can ask them a question. And all of that is a lead gen for them, and that’s why they pay you, and that’s the model?
Godard: Yeah, it’s lead gen but also buyer intent. And then the other thing we do offer . . . a little bit like Gartner’s. They can take our content. And, like, Intercom is rated highly on our grid, I imagine, but let’s say they want to license that content, put it on their own website. So we publish a lot of reports, a lot of content that . . .
Andrew: They are. They’re, like, high market presence, high performers. And so if they want to show this grid on their sales page or in their material, they pay you for the right to do that?
Godard: Yeah. And they license the content. And we’re also introducing now, if you have, like, Salesforce CRM, there’s video reviews. And so those, you know, it’s kind of . . . We think obviously the next level. And we just introduced it recently, but now we started to have hundreds of video reviews. But the same thing a lot of marketers will say, “Hey, let me promote that video review on LinkedIn.” And, actually, LinkedIn is doing that with us. They’re a partner and a customer. And what they’re finding is it’s converting two to three times better than other content because, obviously, people love.
And our videos are much more authentic in testimonials. Salesforce has, like, a video studio. They do these amazing, highly-produced customer videos, but the problem is no one believes them anymore. And, frankly, part of it is Marc Benioff’s such a brilliant marketer, right? He announced Einstein and it’s all amazing. But, obviously, some of this stuff takes longer for customers to actually be able to start using. And so people love hearing the raw, authentic customer feedback, and, you know, that’s really what G2 is all about. And we do these cool, self-recorded videos where people are talking about the products, what they like about them, what they don’t like about them, add something to their business. But, you know, the beauty of all of that, it’s amazing content that marketers, if they want to license it and promote it on their own channels, they can do that.
Andrew: I’m on Crunchbase. You guys raised, according to Crunchbase, $128 million. The latest round was October 2018 for $55 million. Where does the money go to? It seems like it’s . . . It’s like a Yelp for software. Why do you need that much to promote and to build it?
Godard: Yeah. Most of it is still sitting in a bank. You know, that’s one nice thing now being our third company. You know, but our series C was led by Jules Maltz from IVP, and he’s a brilliant, you know, I think growth investor, investing in companies like Dropbox and MuleSoft. [inaudible 00:43:42] a lot of big ones, but he invested in SteelBrick, and then when I came back, he really, you know, kind of have been following us. And I said, “Hey, I’d really love to come in.” And we didn’t really need the money yet, but I’m also always . . . Like, I’d lived through the dot-com bust in 2008, 2009, so if somebody’s willing to give us, you know, capital to finance our future even when we don’t need it . . . And, you know, A, we’ll take it, but, B, we do also think we can accelerate business.
And so we’re working on it now. I mentioned I’m going to Japan next week, so we’re expanding in Asia. We’re going to open an office in Europe. And so we’re really going to take this thing global, and that does obviously take, you know, some additional hiring. And we’re looking at doing some little acquisitions, and we’ll probably be announcing some of that soon. And so it gives us more strategic flexibility to really . . . And the exciting thing and the reason we love G2 Crowd and we think it could finally be that company that can ring the bell is, you know, we’re riding bigger waves.
And I mentioned I’m here at the AWS re:Invent Cloud Computing Conference, and that’s just booming, right? Cloud is booming. Business cloud is booming, and now, everyone is talking about the fourth industrial revolution. Bots, software bots, robots, but it’s all technology. And the reality is now, for any business that wants to reach their potential, they need the right technology. Now, whether you’re a restaurant, right, you need the right checkout systems, and just serving good food typically doesn’t do it anymore. You know, you need a CRM system to keep in touch with your loyal customers. You need the right [inaudible 00:44:53] system. You need to be on Yelp.
And so any business in any industry, now, without the right technology, any entrepreneur, you’re not going to succeed. And to really see this pure advice for entrepreneurs, for businesses is so essential. And, obviously, it’s also what investors are betting on. And one nice thing about, you know, the market we’re in . . . and unlike restaurants. Restaurants are very local. And the unique thing about business technology is it’s extremely global. And, maybe like in Japan, people use Slack, people use Salesforce, people use Oracle, right? If you go to Germany where I’m from originally, same thing. And so it’s kind of a unique, we believe, global digital marketplace we can build. You know, but to do that quickly and to really win, you know, we think more capital would help. And we’re going to start doing some more marketing, and, you know, relaunch the brand. And so I think those . . . We hired a new CMO, Ryan from HubSpot. He’s amazing. So we’re going to really amp this thing up.
Andrew: Look at this. I’m looking at your traffic. You guys do enormous traffic. Three million monthly visits all with direct intent, they’re not just, like, reading a blog post. Not all, but, you know, the majority of them. The weird thing is when I look at top referring sites, zoom.us is a big referral. Is there a reason for that?
Godard: Yeah. And Eric Yuan, the founder of Zoom. [I’m wearing 00:46:03] it right now, and I’ve met Eric. He’s a brilliant entrepreneur. And you might know this story. You actually should have him on this program if you haven’t already. Did you get Eric on?
Andrew: No. I would love it. I am such a fan of their software.
Godard: Yeah. I’d be happy to connect you. Just shoot me an email because Eric’s a friend. I’m sure he’d love to do this. But, you know, he built WebEx. He was their head of engineering. I think at some point he kind of got frustrated. Cisco wouldn’t let him innovate the way he wanted, so he started Zoom in 2011. And his mission for Zoom is to deliver happiness. And, frankly, we’re having a very happy web meeting experience here, right? But I think before Zoom, a lot of us didn’t. You know, we’re like, “Oh, can I hear you,” and, “This stuff just doesn’t work.” And so it really his goal . . . The way he delivers happiness, he engineers Zoom and he keeps just improving it every day. Like, he also loves reviews because, A, if you look on . . . we have that grid for web conferencing. And, actually, based on Eric’s feedback, we created this momentum grid.
Andrew: Interesting. Okay. What a time for us to actually have trouble connecting. Can you hear me okay? There we go.
Godard: Yes. I can hear you. And, funny, right at that moment, we had a . . . I think I’m having . . . and I’m at a hotel here in Vegas.
Andrew: Yeah. That’s the problem. Hotel internet is so spotty. But when we did this on Skype, it would be awful. I would have to deal with Skype because I thought it was the best option out there. Then I used other software, none of it holds up the way that Zoom does. It is a phenomenal piece of software. WebEx was so clunky towards the end. They were innovators, and then it was awful and I can’t imagine the pain he was feeling. I’m a huge believer in what Zoom is doing.
Godard: But so he actually asked. And the reason they have so much referral, he asks all of his customers to write reviews.
Andrew: Oh, okay. I should’ve figured, but boy, you’re getting a lot from that. Obviously, search is sending you guys a lot of traffic. The other thing that I . . . So I’m constantly using all of these different tools to check your business out. The other thing that stood out for me was you mentioned Gartner. They bought one of your competitors for . . . is it right, $206.2 million?
Andrew: Wow. Does that tell you what about the possibility? This was three years ago.
Godard: Yeah, I think it tells us, you know, this is a big market. And Gartner, I mean, gave us more people, you know? And so they also see that this is going to go digital. And they bought three websites, Capterra, Software Advice, and GetApp that were kind of in our space. Because they also see, “Hey, this is the future.” And then, now, they’re investing in something called Pure Insights. [inaudible 00:48:29] process. So we definitely have their attention.
But I think it’s always . . . it’s healthy competition, but also it’s also validating, right, when we as a disrupter, when the big incumbent starts to copy your model, you know you’re onto something. That’s also part of the reason is money. They are big. They have a $15 billion market cap. They’re investing a lot, so we also . . . you know, we decided, “Hey, if we’re going to compete globally with, you know, a large incumbent, then, you know, having a capital helps us really do that.”
Andrew: What do you think of Product Hunt? It’s not appealing to the same client base, but what do you think of them?
Godard: I think it’s amazing, I mean, I think for product discovery. And, frankly, I think, you know, most entrepreneurs will list on Product Hunt before G2. I think where Product Hunt is amazing as, like, day one, right? You’re launching your app and it builds social support. And, obviously, they have this group of fanatic people that love being the first ones to use cool, new products. And then we kind of tend to be a next phase, “Hey, once you have your initial set of, you know, successful referenceable customers, that’s when you come to G2.” But I think I’m . . . Frankly, a lot of things that they do socially, they do a lot better than we do, so I feel like there’s a lot we can learn from them.
Andrew: Why do you think that AngelList wanted them?
Godard: Well, it does seem complimentary, right, to AngelList. Because I also saw those companies are also looking for angel funding, right? So it’s that super early stage [embryonic 00:49:44] stage of products and companies where they both really play.
Andrew: All right. Well, what I like about G2 . . . As I’ve said before, I get an entrepreneur on here who has software that I’m not trying out because, often, it’s just a little too involved. I could try a simple app on my phone, no problem. I interview an entrepreneur who’s got an app, I put it on my phone, I test it out, I try it. But when you’re talking about software that requires a team to play with it, to use it, to experiment with it, and you can’t get whether it’s going to be good or not until you’re using it for a month, that’s a big investment of my team’s time, of our money, and I’m not going to do it just for a guest.
I go to G2 Crowd. Frankly, it’s not that I even go to G2 Crowd. You guys are good at SEO. So I will do a search for the name, and then you will come up. And so it’s just part of my standard research. I check people out on G2 Crowd. And also you’ve mentioned Glassdoor. I love checking companies out on Glassdoor before I get on. I have a whole set of tools that I use. And proud now, to meet the founder behind the company, I had no idea that you had these other two businesses, too.
Godard: Oh, no, thanks, Andrew. It’s been a lot of fun chatting with you. I’m glad it’s helping your business. I mean, it’s very much our goal is to make that resource that gives you that insight, like you said, without having to spend six months trying it yourself.
Andrew: And you mentioned ringing the bell. It’s a reference to what you and I talked before we started about how this could be the company that goes public. The other two were bought before they had a chance to go public. This could be it. I’m looking forward to hearing the story as it continues. Thanks so much for being on here, and I should also thank my two sponsors. For hosting websites, hostgator.com/mixergy, and for hiring developers really, toptal.com/mixergy. You never will find a better place to hire phenomenal developers, toptal.com/mixergy. [inaudible 00:51:24] all of you for listening. All right. Bye, everyone. Thanks.