Keith Krach Introduces DocuSign’s Next CEO, Dan Springer

Keith Krach
January 18, 2017

This is a historic day for DocuSign. I have the privilege of announcing the next CEO of this great company and I couldn’t be more excited. I want to share with you some of my remarks from our company-wide meeting.

I just have 3 simple points for our DocuFamily:

  • Right place
  • Right time
  • Right person

The Right Place

Since I first came to DocuSign 8 years ago, I’ve been saying from day one: It’s all about the people. The company with the best people wins. We have that. We are focused on a mission that is going to change the world as we build out this DocuSign Global Trust Network.

Most importantly, we have laid a solid foundation. We affectionately refer to that foundation as our built-to-last-company. It’s built on:

  • Best-in-class technology
  • All star team
  • Unprecedented set of investors
  • Blue chip customers
  • Values-based DocuFamily culture

And a product that everybody just loves

This bodes well for the future. There couldn’t be a stronger base and a better place for you to build your career with such tremendous opportunity. It is the right place.

The Right Time

We have achieved escape velocity. We have incredible momentum. However, as you’ve heard me say before, we are in the early innings. This market opportunity is huge.

We’ve created a market category and made ourselves the global standard. We are now a trusted partner for some of the most powerful companies on the planet. Our growth over the last several years has been extraordinary. We have 60x’d the value of this company in a few short years and have significantly beat our profit targets over the last 3 quarters.

We are on solid footing and this is the time to pass the baton to the next great leader. It is the right time.

The Right Person

Many of you have heard me use this analogy before…it’s like running a marathon. In order to be a global standard, and further our preeminence in this market, you have to sprint the entire way.

The only way to sprint a marathon is a relay race and it’s won or lost in the baton pass. I’m here to tell you today, we’ve won.

We’ve won because we’re passing the baton to the right person. That right person is Dan Springer.

Everybody asks me, “So what are you looking for in the next CEO?”

I say 3 things: Leadership - Leadership - Leadership

Now, Dan’s entire life story is about leadership. He’s been to my home 5 times. I’ll never forget the first time he came over. We had a two-hour conversation.

I said, “Tell me your life story.”

He asked me, “Where do you want me to begin?”

“From the very beginning. I want to hear the whole thing.”

It spanned his childhood, his academic career, his business career, what he’s done in the community and his family.

Dan was born and raised in Seattle and his mom still lives in Seattle. We want to invite her to a dinner soon and introduce her to my mom. That would be beautiful.

He went to Occidental College and received a double major in math and economics.

Dan graduated from Harvard Business School in 1991. Now it just so happens that I graduated from there in 1981. I’m not going to tell you who’s older, but I will tell you who’s smarter. There’s no doubt about it - it’s Dan.

His business career included many years at McKinsey. He’s got tremendous pattern recognition. Different strategies in so many different industries. He’s also spent time in the trenches building companies, leading companies, ups and downs. This is where you really develop your fiber as a leader.

During the last 10 years, he’s been the CEO of Responsys. When he came in, it had about 50 people. He took it public, and sold to Oracle for $1.6B. He’s had an incredible career.

He lives just right down the street in San Francisco. He gives back to the community, sits on the board of local schools. You can tell he has a big heart.

Dan has two sons that I had the honor of meeting at our house on a couple of occasions. Robert, who is a senior in high school and a great lacrosse player. He holds the team record - 100 goals and only 6 assists. Now that’s something. You miss every shot you don’t take so you might as well be shooting. He has another son, Michael, who just celebrated his 19th birthday. Our 5-year-old twins, JD and Emma, threw him a party a couple of Saturdays ago at our home. He is a freshman at Penn and there’s no question, he’s an academic all star.

You look at all of this and he’s more than just a leader. This man has courage.

My second interview we had at my home, set the record for my CEO interviews. He came to my house for dinner and we spent 8 hours together talking about range, skills and experience. I always said it’s all about range. We want range in terms of strategy to execution, product to go-to-market. A great compassionate DocuFamily leader but also very competitive. I can tell you he’s competitive. He fits that bill in terms of range.

We also said that it wasn’t necessary that our next CEO has taken a company public. That would be a cherry on the top. Well, we got the cherry on the top and I can tell you from experience that when you take a company public, this stuff isn’t written in a book at Harvard Business School.

The last thing I will tell you about him is about a reference check I did on him. I called up my old friend, Tim Haley. Tim Haley was my executive recruiter at Ariba 20 years ago and helped build the executive team. I trust his judgment implicitly. Tim then became a VC and his first investment was Responsys. He hired Dan. When I called Tim to ask about Dan, he said, “You can’t have Dan Springer for the CEO. I want to get him!”

But I told him, “It’s the #1 CEO software search in the world according to the press. Tell me about him.”

Here are 3 takeaways from that conversation.

First off, he said, “Dan is the hardest working guy I’ve ever seen.” That’s really good for DocuSign. You see because at DocuSign, we don’t believe in luck. We believe in hard work and the CEO has to set the pace.

The second thing he said, “He’s the smartest guy in the room. Now he won’t act like that and he’s very data driven, very analytical.”

For our size and scale, this is so critical.

Now I asked him, “Can he code?”

He said, “He can’t code.”

And I said “Whew...I still have a job.”

The 3rd thing Tim said was, “He is of the highest integrity in every situation.”

This is everything at the end of the day. He also said he has a self-depreciating sense of humor. Now I’m not sure what those big words mean but I think it means not to be afraid to mock yourself and have some fun. That’s so important…to have fun along the way.

In Dan, we have found a great leader. This is the right person.

The Baton Pass

So the other day I was thinking. What would be a ceremonial successor gift I could give Dan?

I’m gazing out of my office window where Dan will soon have the privilege to look out.

I see the Bay Bridge and I realize that so many dreams travel across that bridge everyday. Upon reflection, it reminded me about the bridge which our entire DocuSign family is building that so many of our dreams rest upon.

I remembered a poem that was given to me many years ago by a very special mentor of mine. I want to dedicate this poem to Dan, on behalf of all of us, because I think it symbolizes 3 things:

  • Our DocuSign journey…and the CEO journey
  • Our dreams

The great legacy that we will leave this world

I’d like to share this poem with you now, it’s called “The Built-to-Last Bridge”

The Built-to-Last Bridge

An old man going a lone highway,

Came, at the evening cold and gray,

To a chasm vast and deep and wide.

Through which was flowing a sullen tide

The old man crossed in the twilight dim,

The sullen stream had no fear for him;

But he turned when safe on the other side

And built a bridge to span the tide.

“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near,

“You are wasting your strength with building here;

Your journey will end with the ending day,

You never again will pass this way;

You’ve crossed the chasm, deep and wide,

Why build this bridge at evening tide?”

The builder lifted his old gray head;

“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,

“There followed after me to-day

A CEO whose feet must pass this way.

This chasm that has been as naught to me

To that next leader may a pitfall be;

He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;

Good friend, I am building this bridge for him!”

For our next great leader, and on behalf of the entire DocuFamily, I want to dedicate this Built-to-Last Bridge to you on this day, January 18th, 2017. I put this Built-to-Last Company in your capable hands as our next great leader.

Its honor is in your keeping.

So, good friend, I now pass the CEO baton off to you and wish you every success and happiness, as I have found here.

Welcome aboard!

Keith Krach

Keith Krach is Chairman of DocuSign, The Global Standard for Digital Transaction Management.