Serial software entrepreneur Keith Krach is joining the U.S. government, after building billion dollar companies DocuSign and Ariba. Why he’s making the leap.
What do you do after building two successful billion-dollar software companies?
Former DocuSign and Ariba CEO, Keith Krach is going to work for the U.S. government. Krach was confirmed Thursday by Unanimous Voice Vote by the Senate for the position of the Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and Environment. There, he’ll be tasked with advancing the State Department’s economic development agenda; elevating and intensifying the Department’s efforts related to energy security, clean energy, and environmental sustainability; and fostering innovation through robust science, entrepreneurship, and technology policies.
Beyond Krach’s obvious business credentials, the appointment is notable in that he plans to make expanding economic opportunities for entrepreneurs a priority throughout his term. Here is a sampling of what he plans to do.
1. Advance cleantech to tackle climate change
Krach is very concerned about climate and environmental issues, and is eager to offer his software and engineering background for assistance however possible. Just like he reduced global paper and oil consumption through his leadership at DocuSign, Krach believes supporting cleantech companies and initiatives can help tackle the nation’s environmental and energy issues.
“I think we all want to leave and preserve the health of our planet for our children and our grandchildren,” said Krach in his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) on May 5th, 2019.
2. ‘Teach them how to fish’
Krach has concerns that development organizations aren’t as effective as they could be. On a family trip to India in 2005, where he was working with a global micro-loan issuer to give out $50 loans in poverty-stricken areas. “I will never forget being in the slums of Mumbai, after my 12-year-old son Carter handed an 18-year-old single mother of a crippled child a $50 loan to purchase a sewing machine, and said, ‘I get it now, dad. We are not giving them fish, we are teaching them to fish,'” says Krach.
Here’s Krach three-point strategy for tackling economic development inefficiencies:
- Focus on deploying funds to strategic countries that can make the most difference.
- Leverage innovation and private sector resources. (“Not just the business sector but also the educational sector and the social sector as well,” says Krach.)
- Amplify American values. Krach asks, “How do you make American Values come alive?” He says he would begin focusing on the power of entrepreneurship, female economic empowerment, and education.
3. Deploy technological diplomacy
Krach believes that recent technological advances by economic adversaries have brought the world to a diplomatic “inflection point” where increasing competition demands an American response. He urges the U.S. government to lead by example and be strategic with international aid–strengthening partnerships with allies and leveraging innovation and private sector resources. “Our rivals are playing the long game and they are playing for keeps,” he said during his SFRC hearing. “There is no substitute for American leadership,” he added. “To prevail, we must play this game better and take economic statecraft to the next level.”