Forbes: Docusign #3 on Cloud 100

Keith Krach DocuSign

With 250,000 customers and 100 million users, DocuSign is a big company to change course. But for the $3 billion private cloud company at #3 on the Forbes Cloud 100 for 2016, the trick to doubling growth after a decade in business started with a strategic decision made in the last two years.

Back in 2014, the majority of DocuSign’s business came through its own web and mobile applications, which made it easy for customers to share their signatures online. But the company realized that its future would have to be much bigger than that for the company to keep growing and perhaps reach a long-rumored IPO.

“DocuSign has a beautiful app and a beautiful experience, but in the world of digital business today, it’s the API that is the product,” says Marie Huwe, vice president of developer marketing. “So we focused a lot on improving our API story since September of last year,” says Huwe’s boss, chief marketing officer Brad Brooks.

The trend that DocuSign recognized was that its customers in industries seemingly far from the cloud, such as John Deere, were increasingly hiring developers and DevOps teams to build their own software and core tech. Much of what they were building still needed signatures. But DocuSign had spent more than 10 years building out its own brand and continually fighting to boost its names recognition. Giving DocuSign’s product away to the developers white-labeled could undermine it all.

Brooks and his team figured out a middle ground in which DocuSign’s APIs allow its customers to integrate signature functionality without losing DocuSign’s own iconography. And the company changed some of its approach to selling its product, offering trials to developers who might later evolve into paying customers through sample code.