Upstarts who caught our eye, as profiled in the latest pages of the Business Journals: Kevin Plank, who has traveled the world building Under Armour, but kept his hometown first in his thoughts; Keith Krach, whose ambition for DocuSign is to eliminate paper in business; Michael Fearer, who’s building a review site for internships; and Chris and Jen Wherrell, whose $200,000 bet on a fitness business has paid off handsomely.
Who: Keith Krach, DocuSign
Where: San Francisco
What: Keith Krach, chairman and CEO of the cloud-based e-signature juggernaut DocuSign, laughs a lot, and not infrequently at his own expense. “I can be goofy. I’m not afraid to mock myself,” said Krach, 58, whose past successes include co-founding Ariba, the supply chain management Internet company SAP bought for $4.3 billion. Krach’s easygoing demeanor seems to serve a larger purpose, subtly conveying a rock-solid certainty that San Francisco-based DocuSign is riding a wave of historic change in its quest to eliminate paper signing from corporate transactions. That confidence is reflected in DocuSign’s spectacular growth since Krach took over as CEO in 2011. DocuSign has grown from 120 employees to more than 1,500 on Krach’s watch, raising more than $443 million along the way (bringing the total raised by the company to $508 million at a reported $3 billion valuation). More corporations have taken equity in DocuSign than any other private company, a recent report showed. Big names invested either directly or through affiliated funds include Dell, Google, Intel, Salesforce, Samsung, SAP, Telstra, Visa, Comcast, NTT Finance, Mitsui & CO (USA), Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, the National Association of Realtors and the nation of Singapore. He says: “(Corporate investors have( allowed us not only to thrive in large enterprises, but also to combine their firepower with ours,” Krach said. “That has been a huge part of our success.” Extra: Krach warns that those unwilling to go fully digital: “Chances are, 20 years from now they will be irrelevant.”