14 minutes | Jul 30th 2020

E115 – App Annie CEO Ted Krantz – 1 of 3 – Forged in B2B Software Sales

Transcript

Ted Krantz, App Annie CEO : Yeah, honestly, I was fortunate because I got put in a global role..

Stephen Cummins: Okay. Of course.

Ted Krantz: And it was Global Accounts at Peoplesoft and I had Craig Conway in my accounts.

Stephen Cummins: Yeah.

Ted Krantz: So I’m this, you know, mid thirties, young executive, flying around the world and having Craig, like, sitting in meetings with me. So I got indoctrinated in the C-Suite hard and heavy…very early on. We had some big global accounts and Craig was intimately involved in those accounts. That’s one thing I really learned from him. I think at a high, you know, high level with my career, I’ve been blessed that I’ve had three legends that I’ve been pretty close to. Craig early on at Peoplesoft, you know. And then I moved over with Tom Siebel at C3. I’m very close to Bill McDermott still today at SAP. 

Stephen Cummins: Very good

Ted Krantz: And all three of them have heavy influence on my career.

Stephen Cummins: Welcome to 14 minutes of SaaS! The show where you can listen to the stories and opinions of founders of the world’s most remarkable SaaS scale-ups!

This is episode 115 of 14 Minutes of SaaS, the first of 3 episodes where I chat with Ted Krantz, CEO of App Annie – a mobile data and analytics platform. Ted is what I call a re-founder, because he’s overseen a complete re-imagination of the brand – something that was overdue. Employee numbers have held pretty steady in the last 6 months through Covid. About 77% of employees and former employees would recommend working with App Annie to a friend (well above average) and Ted enjoys a healthy approval rating of 80% on Glassdoor. That’s well north of the average rating, which is – if you’re curious – 69%. Since our interview App Annie have launched Ascend – which is the upgraded new version of their acquisition Libring for advertising analytics. It has more than 1 million users and over 1,100 clients.

Stephen Cummins: Ted Krantz, CEO of App Annie, a mobile marketing data and analytics platform here on 14 Minutes of SaaS. And we’re here in the Web Summit. Great to have you on the show Ted.

Ted Krantz: Delighted to join you Stephen. Thank you for having me.

Stephen Cummins:  Fantastic. I’d love to know a little bit about where you came from, where you grew up, your life. Prior … let’s say, all the way from childhood prior to you entering the kind of the B2B software world of Peoplesoft.

Ted Krantz: Got it. Yeah, I grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, which I kinda describe as a great place to be from. Great family values. Grew up in Omaha which is 600,000-700,000 people. My dad was a policeman. And so we moved to Dallas when he I guess I was 12 or 13. So, just as I moved into middle school. And then I spent the better part of 30 years basically in Dallas. Played some sports when I was a child. I was one of those not gifted athletes, but very competitive. So, I played football. I did a little boxing and I did a little bit of baseball.

Stephen Cummins: I thought you were a footballer when I saw you actually.

Ted Krantz: Yeah. I played football. Yeah, I played quarterback.

Stephen Cummins: Okay.

Ted Krantz: Well, I played in Texas in those days they ran wishbone. And I was a throwing quarterback.

Stephen Cummins: What’s the wishbone?

Ted Krantz:  Wishbone is a lot of handing off. So the game has changed. Now, there’s a lot of passing, but when I played, it was a lot of… lot of running.

Stephen Cummins: Okay. Okay. So it was a little bit more like rugby perhaps?

Ted Krantz: It was.

Stephen Cummins: Okay.

Ted Krantz: That would be a good analogy.

Stephen Cummins: So tell me a bit more about when you move to Dallas. Did you enjoy moving there? Did you miss your home? How did that work out for you? You were 12 or 13?

Ted Krantz: 12 or 13. I love Texas.

Stephen Cummins: Okay.

Ted Krantz: Indoctrinated really quickly. Football was a big portion of that. It’s a big football state.

Stephen Cummins: Yeah. Cowboys.

Ted Krantz: Built my nucleus of friends that I still have today, actually, Yeah. Went to the University of Texas at Dallas. I worked my way through school. I paid for my entire ride. So I was the first in my family to go to college. So I bartended my way through school.

Stephen Cummins: Fantastic. Same as myself.

Ted Krantz: Yeah.

Stephen Cummins: First generation as well.

Ted Krantz: Yeah.

Stephen Cummins: Yeah. Usually have to work a little bit harder in the States.

Ted Krantz: You do.

Stephen Cummins: Just because of the cost of [education]

Ted Krantz: I was bored in high school. I didn’t really have to try academically until college and then I was, like, really excited and motivated.

Stephen Cummins: Fantastic.

Ted Krantz: But not so much as a student in high school.

Stephen Cummins: Okay. I was actually the same.

Ted Krantz: Yeah.

Stephen Cummins: I couldn’t wait to get out of school.

Ted Krantz: Yeah, yeah yeah.

Stephen Cummins: I wonder if moving something to do with it … I moved around as well but changed schools as well. So you have a pretty impressive kind of 12 years period from around 2000, I believe, in Peoplesoft, SAP and C3… In similar roles – building sales teams …

Ted Krantz: I grew up through the revenue ranks, yes. Again bartended my way through college and my degree was in Economics and Finance. And so I got my degree and I started interviewing with the finance companies and I thought, ‘man, I just wasted like five years of my life. I’m not sure that this is for me’. And so I took some of the, you know, kind of classic personality profiles and testing and where you should go career wise and sales look pretty good on paper. And I interviewed with a software company called Egghead Software… early on in 1990 and that’s when I started in software. So, I worked my way through a lot of different mid-sized companies. Specialized a little bit in customer relationship management before that was really a cool space… by Marc Benioff and the like. And then I got into the enterprise companies with Peoplesoft in 2000.

Stephen Cummins: Oh … CRM, you mean being, yeah, a cool space from… from Salesforce.

Ted Krantz: Exactly.

Stephen Cummins: And you …

Ted Krantz: It was cool before Salesforce, but Benioff made it much cooler. So growing up through the sales ranks, it’s a performance based world. It’s very different than the world today. Back when I was going through the ranks, there were more people than jobs. Now, it’s the opposite. So you really had to work your way and distinguish yourself through execution and performance. And so by the time I got to Peoplesoft, I had, you know, the better part of 10 years of kind of growing my skills, and I got very fortunate to move into a leadership position; a global role, which was a ton of fun.

Stephen Cummins: Yeah.

Ted Krantz: I had more exposure than I thought it was signing up for actually. Craig Conway was running Peoplesoft at the time. There was a big thing, no code on the client and pure HTML, which was really disruptive. And, you know, Larry Ellison didn’t like the value prop very much.

Stephen Cummins: No. And he lost a couple of good people.

Ted Krantz: Yeah, he absolutely did.

Stephen Cummins: Who built some amazing companies.

Ted Krantz: Yes. Yeah.

Stephen Cummins: Working your way through that, I mean, there’s a  thing that, I… I mean, I went back to Salesforce, and did a little bit of sales for a few years and, but one of the things that struck me is some people are probably born to it. I did very well at it, but I felt I couldn’t do it from my life. And part of the reason was this thing where it all starts again every year and…

Ted Krantz: And every quarter.

Stephen Cummins: Yeah, exactly. You could say every…  you can break it up whatever way …. that takes a certain amount of stamina…

Ted Krantz: It does.

Stephen Cummins: Were you happy when, you know … when you reach a certain point where you’ve got up into the C-Suite and stuff like that? Did you feel “Whew I’ve done my stint” or do you still find yourself getting involved in large deals? Do you find you can’t … you know … do you find it hard to leave that part of your life alone?

Ted Krantz: That’s an interesting perspective. I don’t feel that way.

Stephen Cummins: Okay.

Ted Krantz: I have released from the deals. I do get more into the metrics, but I’ve got a great sales leader that handles the execution side. So I’m fortunate there. And I’m really not fascinated by that anyway; I’ve always been driven more by strategy.

Stephen Cummins: Okay.

Ted Krantz: So I think for me, it’s an easier release then it might be for some.

Stephen Cummins: Okay. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. But would you not feel when you’re working, I’ll take you back to… to Peoplesoft for example … that on a kind of a month by month, quarter by quarter basis, it’s more tactical than strategic.

Ted Krantz: Yes.

Stephen Cummins: At that stage  in your career….

Ted Krantz: Yeah, honestly, I was fortunate because I got put in a global role..

Stephen Cummins: Okay. Of course.

Ted Krantz: And it was Global Accounts at Peoplesoft and I had Craig Conway in my accounts.

Stephen Cummins: Yeah.

Ted Krantz: So I’m this, you know, mid thirties, young executive, flying around the world and having Craig, like, sitting in meetings with me. So I got indoctrinated in the C-Suite hard and heavy…very early on. We had some big global accounts and Craig was intimately involved in those accounts. That’s one thing I really learned from him. I think at a high, you know, high level with my career, I’ve been blessed that I’ve had three legends that I’ve been pretty close to. Craig early on at Peoplesoft, you know. And then I moved over with Tom Siebel at C3. I’m very close to Bill McDermott still today at SAP.

Stephen Cummins: Very good

Ted Krantz: And all three of them have heavy influence on my career.

Stephen Cummins: Wow. That’s amazing. So you’ve had exposure…

Ted Krantz: So I’ve learned from some legends … and they’re all very different.

Stephen Cummins: Yeah, yeah.

Ted Krantz: And maybe not, you know, dynamic-wise it’s pretty interesting. They’re all a little bit … come at the game a little bit differently.

Stephen Cummins: Would one of them have been more formative for you then the other? Was the one where you…

Ted Krantz:   They were all so formative. I put them all equally for different reasons.

Stephen Cummins: Okay.

Ted Krantz: At Peoplesoft. It was, I mean, I’m early in my career and I’m full blown global. Flying all over the place. Orchestrating big global deals.

Stephen Cummins: Yeah.

Ted Krantz: So for me, that was a dimension of really kinda globalising how I think. And framing my game in a more global, you know, theatre reality versus a lot of sales leaders that are very North American centric. Or a particular region. So I got into global very early on in my career. I think that’s the big distinguishing factor. Plus I have a passion for running those strategic accounts because I learned a lot from Craig and I saw how, you know, a big time CEO is so intimately involved on those key critical accounts.  Maybe not on the whole business. But when it came to those critical accounts, he was in the middle of it with you. That was a little bit different.

At SAP, I learned something different with… with Bill McDermott. I was fortunate to, kinda come in when he was still running the Americas. He was Global CEO. Now he’s over at ServiceNow. I learned a ton from Bill on executing at scale and also the style by which you lead. Some of his leadership characteristics are really unique. It’s highly motivating. It’s very personal. You have deep rich relationships and you get it done together and you enjoy the ride.

Stephen Cummins: Fantastic. Well enjoying the ride is always a very important thing as well.

Ted Krantz: It’s hard to always find that.

Stephen Cummins: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Especially in the high pressure.

Ted Krantz: Right. And then with Tom at C3, I was very fortunate to learn from a legend up close and personal on something that’s entrepreneurial. Right. With C3 and him having huge success at Siebel and then trying to take and run at IOT, and now it’s an AI play and it’s is doing really well.

Stephen Cummins: Yeah, yeah.

Ted Krantz: He did a pivot which most companies can’t pull off.

Stephen Cummins: Absolutely. Absolutely. Now he’s obviously a friend but … let me ask you …  Tom with Siebel.

Ted Krantz: Yes.

Stephen Cummins: So, I’m not a believer that Salesforce killed Siebel, by the way.

Ted Krantz: He doesn’t believe that either …

Stephen Cummins:  I wrote an article on it actually … and I think so … I think every company develops its internal David. I have this theory … companies, like humans, have a life cycle. They’ll all go to the ground no matter who they are ..  at some point.

Ted Krantz: Yes.

Stephen Cummins: But the great companies … they have a long tenure. That’s the difference. And they shine for a certain period of that great tenure. But I believe that all Goliaths develop internal David.

Ted Krantz: Yeah.

Stephen Cummins: And it’s that moment in time when for whatever reason they stop listening, they stop innovating, they stop understanding the market. Maybe they stop talking to the customers … and maybe some good competition comes along the same time. And I believe that’s what happened to Siebel.  They didn’t cannibalise their own massive contracts … because they had a war chest! They could have built what Salesforce has built.

Ted Krantz: Oh, without question…

Stephen Cummins: How do you feel? Do you feel that they made that error too?

Ted Krantz:  Well. I think that there was some dismissal subconsciously of mid-market because, you know, Siebel was built with the best and finest accounts. He established CRM is huge enterprise domain. Without Tom there would not be Salesforce.

Stephen Cummins: Oh yeah.

Ted Krantz: In my opinion.

Stephen Cummins: Yeah.

Ted Krantz: And so I think his thought leadership is really what, kind of, made CRM what it is today and influenced Salesforce and gave Salesforce the lower part of the market. At the same time to, in all fairness, you know, Oracle did acquire Siebel and some of the hands on the wheel were no longer Tom’s.

Stephen Cummins: Yes.

Ted Krantz: And it was Oracle’s domain from there, and that’s when Salesforce entered. So, I have a great deal of respect for how Tom thinks strategically. I don’t think I’ve worked for a smarter individual. I’ve been in enterprise sales for a long time in the software game.

Stephen Cummins: Absolutely.

Ted Krantz: There’s no better product expert and sales expert than Mr. Siebel.

Stephen Cummins: Than Tom Siebel …. Okay …

Stephen Cummins: In the next episode, part 2 of 3, Ted talks about the substantial learning curve of moving from leadership roles in traditional B2B SaaS sales to the C-suite and eventually CEO of a digital marketing company. And another learning curve involving working with a much higher percentage of millennials.

You’ve been listening to 14 minutes of SaaS. Thanks to Mike Quill for his creativity and problem solving skills, to Ketsu for the music and to Anders Getz for the transcript. This episode was brought to you by me, Stephen Cummins. If you enjoyed the podcast, please don’t forget to share it with your network, subscribe to the series, and give the show a rating

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