Harvard Business School Association of Northern California has named Keith Krach its 2019 Business Leader of the Year. The honor will be celebrated at next year’s 50th Anniversary of the HBSANC’s annual gala.
Krach, Chairman of DocuSign and Silicon Valley veteran, was selected in recognition of his transformational leadership and game-changing impact in business, technology, education, and social sectors, as well as his extensive philanthropic endeavors. Previous honorees include such legendary leaders as: George Schultz, Andy Grove, John Chambers, Bill Hewlett, Dave Packard, Charles Schwab, Stephen Chu, Larry Sonsini, Arthur Rock, Walter Haas, Carol Bartz, Andy Jassy, Robert Mondavi, and Gordon Moore.
“Throughout his career, Keith has brought powerful transformational leadership to many sectors—factory automation, engineering, commerce, education, philanthropy and even the way people sign,” said Salman Khan, Founder and CEO of Khan Academy and 2017 Business Leader of the Year. “His focus on innovation and productivity combined with his approach of perpetually challenging the status quo and empowering people to accomplish more than they had ever imagined possible has resulted in a profound impact on GDP per capita, international trade and the sustainability of our planet.”
“As a 21-year-old engineering student at Purdue, I couldn’t believe it when I learned I was accepted at HBS,” said Krach. “When I showed up that first day at Harvard and saw the caliber of students with their breadth and depth of experience, I was terrified. I never imagined, in a million years, that someday my fellow alumni would recognize me with such a great distinction.”
Krach served as Chairman, CEO & President of DocuSign until 2017 and currently serves as chairman of the board. Krach spearheaded the company’s transformation from a startup to the category leader it is today. Under his leadership, DocuSign became a verb and built the DocuSign Global Trust Network, which comprises more than 400,000 companies and 400 million users in 188 countries.
In 1996, Krach co-founded Ariba, serving as Chairman & CEO. Krach took Ariba public, ultimately achieving a market capitalization of more than $40 billion and building one of the fastest-growing software companies in history. In honor of his accomplishment in creating the category of B2B Electronic Commerce, Ernst & Young named Krach the 2000 National Entrepreneur of the Year. Today, $1.6 trillion in commerce is transacted annually through the Ariba network, which is more than Amazon, eBay and Alibaba combined.
“Krach has become a category kingmaker, building four game-changing companies from robotics to engineering software to e-commerce to e-signature and digital transaction management,” observes Harvard Business School’s former faculty chair of Building New Businesses, Bruce Harreld. “All four companies are considered disruptors, became clear market leaders through category creation, generated significant shareholder value, and chose paper or manual processes as their main competitors.”
Prior to founding Ariba, Krach led General Motors’ GMF robotics division, as the company’s youngest-ever vice president. GMF gave rise to what is now the largest robotics company in the world. After GM, Krach helped found Rasna, the engineering design software company that created the category of “Mechanical Design Synthesis” and achieved the distinction of being ranked by Inc. as the third fastest-growing company before it was sold to Parametric Technologies for $500 million in 1995. Krach has also served as chairman of the board of trustees for Purdue University, chairman of the board of Angie’s List, and International President of Sigma Chi fraternity.
As Chairman of Purdue, Krach guided a paradigm shift that generated a new model for STEM education and retraining the workforce by bringing on Mitch Daniels, then governor of Indiana, as university president. Purdue dramatically increased its global reach while dramatically improving student affordability with its game-changing move to acquire Kaplan and create Purdue University Global.
Purdue stands alone in not increasing tuition in the last seven years and now serves as a role model for reforming higher education and tackling the nation’s $1.4 trillion student debt crisis. “Keith Krach had a profound and far reaching impact at Purdue,” said Michael Berghoff, current Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Purdue University. “He has a unique combination of transformational leadership skills, which benefited Purdue greatly during his term as chairman of the board of trustees.”
Krach is founder and chairman of the DocuSign Impact Foundation, whose unique mission is to transform people’s lives by transforming noble causes. Generous gifts from the Krach Family Foundation support the work of numerous philanthropic endeavors including City Year, the New Story Charity, Opportunity International, the San Francisco Symphony and the founding gift for the Children’s Autistic Network, to name just a few.
Recently, Keith and his wife Metta were honored as a couple, receiving City Year’s 2018 Citizen Leadership Award for their inspiration, dedication and service to the community. “Metta’s love for helping children and communities, combined with Keith’s passion for leadership and mentoring, generates a powerful force for civic impact in the Bay Area and beyond,” said Michael Brown, CEO and co-founder of City Year.
About the Harvard Business School Association of Northern California
The Harvard Business School Association of Northern California (HBSANC) is one of the largest & most active HBS alumni networks in the world. Serving over 6,000 Bay area alumni, our mission is to provide meaningful ways for Northern California HBS alumni to connect with one another, to be inspired, and to make a positive community impact. Each year, HBSANC provides access to over 100 innovative programs including inspiring HBS Professor talks that facilitate lifelong learning and engaging events that feature local leaders who have built some of the most successful companies in Silicon Valley. Through our Community Partners and Startup Partners programs, HBSANC contributes over $3 million in pro bono consulting to the Bay area nonprofit community and entrepreneurial ecosystem. HBSANC is a 501c(3) organization. For more information visit www.hbsanc.org.