This column by Michael Mink was originally published on investors.com on July 27, 2018 and in Investor’s Business Daily Weekly on July 30, 2018
Keith Krach made his mark with new technologies but built his foundation on old-fashioned values. And he was willing to risk his future to stay true to them. Krach, 61, was one of the co-founders of Ariba in 1996. The company is the world’s first and today largest e-commerce network. Krach served as its chairman and CEO from 1996-2003. Ariba, which at one time under Krach achieved a $40 billion market cap, was sold in 2012 for $4.3 billion to SAP SE (SAP). Ariba’s software revolutionized business-to-business e-commerce. Currently some $1 trillion of it goes through the Ariba network annually. Among his numerous honors, Ernst & Young named Krach the National Entrepreneur of the Year in 2000 and 2015. Before all of that, Krach was General Motors’ (GM) youngest-ever vice president at 26, but “I wanted to leave the nest to build something of my own,” Krach told IBD. “Silicon Valley was becoming a mecca for innovation, and I just knew I had to see what I could accomplish there.” So he left General Motors in his rearview mirror. “When I let folks at GM know my plans, they all thought I was crazy,” Krach said. He took a job with a small Silicon Valley software company in 1987 as their No. 2 executive. Not a week into his new gig, he came face to face with a crisis. That’s when the CEO gave Krach a directive of what to specifically say at a board meeting. “And I said ‘I will not!’ ” Krach recalled. ” ‘That would be lying!’ ” Krach felt he’d made the biggest mistake of his life, joining a company “where my values were not the same as the CEO’s,” he said. “I knew if I stayed there I wasn’t living my values.” His nine months there before leaving “was the worst period of my life,” he said.