HP is sold on DocuSign as e-signatures prepare to go global

April 8, 2016

At the start of DocuSign’s MOMENTUM annual conference in San Francisco on Wednesday, CEO Keith Krach opened his keynote speech by bounding on the stage and doing a series of energetic high kicks that would have landed many of us in the hospital. As it turns out, he had good reason to celebrate. Not only is his company clicking along with 85 million users and approximately one million transactions per day, the imminent opening of the Asian and European markets promise to put his e-signature business into a gear seldom seen in the technology world.

“It is no secret that our business is on fire,” Krach told the gathering of analysts, customers, and assembled media.

What’s fanning the flames for DocuSign is a combination of major adoption by big name U.S. companies like Hewlett-PackardMicrosoftChevron, and T-Mobile, and the promise that previously difficult markets such as China and the European Union could soon become fertile ground for the e-signature leader. DocuSign executives and their customers spent a major part of this week’s conference talking about the speed of their technology in today’s uber-fast world.

“The laws of the technology jungle have changed,” said Krach. “It is now all about speed.”

The accelerating pace of change has played into DocuSign’s hands as their technology has increasingly led businesses to look more closely at how to simplify the cumbersome contract and legal agreement process for industries like real estate, enterprise computer sales, auto purchase, and finance. And this is what led Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman to jokingly declare to Krach before conference attendees this week, “You are practically running Hewlett-Packard Enterprise now, so don’t screw it up.”

Whitman talked candidly about the split of the venerated Silicon Valley pioneer in 2015, when Hewlett-Packard restructured into two $50 billion companies based on their computer/printer and storage/networking businesses. According to Whitman, this has forced her firm to change more rapidly and adapt to a new reality of accelerated change in the technology world, with DocuSign being an important ingredient of that transformation. The split of HP required that 300,000 employees receive new offers of employment and this process was driven by DocuSign’s e-signature technology.

Despite DocuSign’s success with large companies such as HP and its pervasive use in major markets such as real estate, the firm’s growth has been largely limited to the U.S. That is about to change.

In a separate interview during this week’s conference with Brad Brooks, DocuSign’s chief marketing officer, it now appears that the Europe is about to become fertile ground for e-signature companies thanks to a new set of common standards which go into effect on July 1. This will allow DocuSign and others to avoid the complicated regulations which have hindered cross-border transactions using e-signatures. “When that change happens, it will be significant,” said Brooks.

Asia presents a different set of challenges for e-signature adoption. In China, common business practice requires a “chop” or personalized seal that is the hallmark of mutual agreement. This has been difficult for e-signature firms to replicate, but according to Brooks, DocuSign is working on a solution to this problem and once this issue has been resolved it will undoubtedly open up the sizable Asian business market.

DocuSign presented plenty of evidence this week that their growth continues to be robust in the United States. One of the areas where digital signatures are gaining traction is in government services. In Palo Alto, California, there is a major push underway to completely digitize all city services, everything from building permits to local business licenses. “I’m working day and night so that people will have no reason to come to city hall,” said Jonathan Reichental, Palo Alto’s chief information officer.

A major theme during the DocuSign gathering was disruption. Krach and his team strongly believe they are a key disruptor in a world that, until the blossoming of e-signing, was wholly dependent on paper. “In business, if you’re not changing you’re going to die,” said Krach. “You are either on the train or on the tracks.”

The DocuSign train appears to be gaining speed and if they can tap into major new markets such as Europe and Asia, they may soon be carrying much of the world with them.