DocuSign hires new CEO, in latest sign it's headed for an IPO

January 18, 2017

DocuSign announced on Wednesday that Dan Springer has joined the widely used electronic signature startup as its CEO.

Springer, who started with DocuSign on Tuesday, will replace Keith Krach, who’s been with the company for nearly eight years and will stay on as company chairman.

Springer arrives at DocuSign with over 25 years of industry experience, including a decade at Responsys, the automated marketing platform. Springer led Responsys through an IPO in 2011 and Oracle’s $1.5 billion acquisition of the business roughly two years after.

Springer is perhaps the last piece in the puzzle for DocuSign, which may be poised to go public sooner rather than later.

The 53-year-old executive told Yahoo Finance in an interview his primary goal is to maintain — even “turbo charge” — DocuSign’s business momentum. Last August, DocuSign reported 300% year-over-year growth, with 100 million users across 188 countries and 130,000 new users joining DocuSign every day.

“I think product innovation is going to be a huge part of my focus here,” Springer told Yahoo Finance. “I think it’s our strength at DocuSign. It’s not like I’m here to turn it around. … There are so many opportunities for DocuSign when we look at the international growth opportunities. You may know that we’ve made some incredible headway in places like Europe where there are different standards that are required. Some different regulatory and privacy components that we’ve gotten way ahead of everyone else there.”

View photosFormer Docusign CEO Keith Krach. DocusignMoreType image caption here (optional)

Founded by serial entrepreneur Tom Gonser in 2003, DocuSign has evolved from a business focused on eliminating the pen and ink signature into the dominant network for handling digital workflows and processing documents for over 250,000 businesses, including Comcast (CMCSA), LinkedIn (LNKD) and Salesforce (CRM). DocuSign has raised more than $525 million to date, which includes a whopping $233 million valuing the startup at $3 billion in May 2015.

While Springer admitted he doesn’t have a concrete plan just yet, he views the Asia Pacific region as a huge growth opportunity.

“There are parts of Asia where people don’t use a signature — they use a stamp,” Springer explained, referring to the Hanko, a stamp frequently used in lieu of signatures for contracts and most other documents in regions such as China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. A partnership with Japanese stationery provider Shachihata announced in late 2015 allows individuals to use a digital version of their Hanko to electronically sign documents.

Over the last three years, DocuSign has made several strategic moves —  in addition to deepening partnerships with enterprise software providers like Oracle (ORCL) and Microsoft (MSFT) — signaling it may be gearing up for an IPO within the next 12-24 months.

Last August, for example, the company released new growth metrics, sending a signal to investors about the company’s current, thriving state. Springer is also the latest in a series of somewhat recent executive hires with experience in taking a company public. Those hires include DocuSign Chief Financial Officer Michael Sheridan, who worked at FireEye (FEYE) when it went public, and general counsel Reggie Davis, who was at Zynga (ZNGA) when it debuted on Wall Street.

Springer, who declined to comment on whether a DocuSign IPO was on the horizon, offered simply that he doesn’t plan on doing anything that would hurt the company’s dominance.

“My first point was, first do no harm, right?” Springer said. “Hippocratic oath here. I don’t want to come in and do anything to veer us off the tremendous business momentum that we have.”