Meet Jennifer Tejada, the key weapon of one among Silicon Valley’s fastest-growing enterprise software program startups
PagerDuty, an eight-year-old, San Francisco-based firm that sends firms details about their expertise, doesn’t obtain a fraction of the press that different fast-growing enterprise software program firms obtain. The truth is, although it counts as clients heavyweight firms like Capital One, Spotify and Netflix; it employs 500 workers; and it has 5 workplaces all over the world, it has largely operated out of the highlight.
That’s altering. For one factor, the corporate is now a so-called unicorn, after elevating $90 million in a September spherical led by Wellington and T. Rowe Worth that introduced its whole funding to $173 million and its valuation to $1.three billion. Crowded because the unicorn membership could also be today, that quantity, and people backers, makes PagerDuty a startup of curiosity to a broader circle of trade watchers.
Another excuse you’re prone to begin listening to extra about PagerDuty is its CEO of three years, Jennifer Tejada, who’s uncommon on this planet of enterprise startups due to her gender, however whose advertising background makes her much more of an anomaly — and an asset.
In a world that’s going digital quick, Tejada is aware of PagerDuty can enchantment to a far wider array of shoppers by promoting them a product they’ll perceive.
It’s a trick she first realized at Proctor & Gamble, the place she spent seven years after graduating from the College of Michigan with each a liberal arts and a enterprise administration diploma. The truth is, in her first tech job out of P&G, working for the bubble-era provide chain administration startup I2 Applied sciences (it went public and was later acquired), Tejada says she turned “director of dumb it down.”
Sitting in PagerDuty’s expansive second ground workplace house in San Francisco — house that the corporate will quickly double by taking on the primary ground — Tejada recollects appearing “like a filter for very technical individuals who have been very pleased with the IP they’d created” however who couldn’t clarify it to anybody with out counting on jargon. “I used to be like, ‘How are you going to get somebody to pay you $2 million for that?’”
Tejada discovered herself more and more distilling the tech into plain English, so the businesspeople who must signal large checks and “wager their careers on these investments” might perceive what they have been being pitched. She’s instilling that very same ethos at PagerDuty, which was based in 2009 to assist companies monitor their tech stacks, handle disruptions and alert engineers earlier than issues catch on fireplace however, below Tejada’s watch, is evolving right into a service that flags alternatives for its clients, too.
As she tells it, the corporate’s expertise doesn’t simply give clients insights into their service ecosystem and their groups’ well being, and it doesn’t simply discover different helpful kernels, like about which operations groups are the most efficient and why. PagerDuty can be serving to its shoppers develop into proactive. The concept, she says, is that “if you happen to see site visitors spiking on an internet site, you may orchestrate a crew of content material entrepreneurs or development hackers and get them in that site visitors stream proper then, as a substitute of studying about it in a demand-gen report per week later, the place you’re, like, ‘Nice, we completely missed that chance.’”
The instance is a bit analogous to what Tejada herself brings to the desk, which incorporates sturdy folks expertise (she’s very humorous) and a knack for understanding what customers need to hear, but in addition a deep understanding of finance and enterprise software program.
As corny because it sounds, Tejada appears to have been working towards her present profession her complete life.
Not that, like the remainder of us, she knew precisely what she was doing always. Quite the opposite, one a part of her path began when, after spending 4 years because the VP of worldwide advertising for I2 — 4 years throughout which the dot-com bubble expanded wildly, then popped — Tejada stop her job, went residence for the vacations and, whereas her baffled household regarded on, booked a round-trip ticket to Australia to get away and find out about yachts.
She left the expertise not solely together with her skipper certification however in a relationship together with her now-husband of 16 years, an Australian with whom she settled in Sydney for roughly 12 years.
There, she labored for a non-public fairness agency, then joined Telecom New Zealand as its chief advertising officer for a few years, then landed quickly after at an enterprise software program firm that catered to asset-intensive industries, together with mining, as its chief technique officer. When that private-equity backed firm was sold, Tejada took a breath, then was recruited to steer, for the primary time, one other firm: Keynote Programs, a publicly traded web and cell cloud testing and monitoring firm that she steered to a sale to the personal fairness agency Thomas Bravo a few years later.
The transfer gave her a possibility to spend time together with her now teenage daughter and husband, however she additionally didn’t have a job for the primary time in a few years, and Tejada appears to love work. Certainly, inside one yr, after speaking with buyers who’d gotten to know her over her varied roles, in addition to keen recruiters, Tejada — who says she is “not a founder however an amazing adoptive dad or mum” — settled on the 50th of 51 firms she was requested to think about becoming a member of. It was PagerDuty.
She has been overseeing wild development ever since. The corporate now counts greater than half of the Fortune 50 as its clients. It has additionally doubled its headcount a few occasions since she joined roughly 28 months in the past, and lots of of its workers (upwards of 43 p.c) are actually girls, in addition to engineers from extra numerous backgrounds than you may see at a typical Silicon Valley startup.
That’s no accident. Variety breeds variety, in Tejada’s view, and variety is sweet for enterprise.
“I wouldn’t say we market to girls,” says Tejada, explaining that variety to her is not only about gender but in addition age and ethnic background and way of life alternative and placement and upbringing and experience.
“We’ve made a aware effort to construct an inclusive tradition the place all types of individuals need to work. And also you ship that message out into the market, there’s lots of people who hear it and surprise if it might presumably be true. After which they arrive to a PagerDuty occasion, or they arrive into the workplace, they usually see one thing completely different than they’ve seen earlier than. They see folks they’ll relate to.”
Why does it matter in the case of writing code? As a result of an enormous a part of coding is problem-solving for one factor, says Tejada. “When you have got folks from numerous backgrounds chunking by way of a large bushy drawback collectively, these completely different views will get you to a extra insightful reply.” Tejada additionally believes there’s an excessive amount of bias in utility improvement and person expertise. “There’s a whole lot of gobbledygook in our app that a lot of builders completely perceive however that isn’t accessible to everybody — males, girls, completely different practical varieties of customers, folks of a distinct age. Like, how accessible is our cell app to somebody who’s not a native-first cell person, who began out on an analog telephone, moved to an enormous desktop, then to a laptop computer and is now utilizing a smartphone? You must take into consideration the accessibility of your design in that regard, too.”
What in regards to the design of PagerDuty’s funding? Earlier than parting methods, we ask Tejada in regards to the cash PagerDuty raised a few months in the past, and what it means for the corporate.
Unsurprisingly, as as to whether the corporate plans to go public any time quickly, her solutions are variously, “I’m simply constructing a permanent firm,” and, “We’re nonetheless having fun with the advantages of being a non-public firm.”
However Tejada additionally appears conscious of not elevating far extra money for PagerDuty than it must scale, even whereas there’s an ocean of capital surrounding it.
“Going again to the early ’90s, in my profession I’ve not seen a market the place there was extra prepared availability to capital, between tax reforms and sovereign money and large corporates and low rates of interest and large enterprise funds, to not point out the elevated willingness of huge institutional buyers to develop into LPs.” However even whereas the “underlying drivers and secular tendencies and main indicators” counsel a wholesome marketplace for SaaS expertise for a very long time to come back, that “doesn’t imply the labor markets are going to remain the identical. It doesn’t imply the geopolitical environments are usually not going to alter. Once you let the shortage subject available in the market drive your valuation, you’re additionally accountable for rising into that valuation, it doesn’t matter what occurs within the macro atmosphere.”
The place Tejada doesn’t essentially need to be so measured is in the case of PagerDuty’s place in its market.
And that may be difficult as the corporate features extra traction — and extra consideration.
“For those who do the proper factor to your clients, and also you do the proper factor by your workers, all the remainder will fall into place,” she says. “However the minute you’re taking your eye off the ball, the minute you don’t earn the belief of your buyer daily, the minute you cease innovating in service of them, you’re gonna begin going backwards,” she says with a shrug.
Tejada recollects a dialog she had together with her govt crew final week, together with with Alex Solomon, the corporate’s CTO and the one among three PagerDuty founders who stays actively engaged with the corporate. (Co-founder Andrew Miklas moved on to venture capital last year; Baskar Puvanathasan in the meantime left the corporate in March.) “They most likely needed to kill me,” she says laughing. “I informed them I don’t suppose we’re disrupting ourselves sufficient. They’re like, ‘Jenn, let up.’ However that’s what occurs to firms. They’ve their first success they usually miss that second wave or third wave, and the following factor you recognize, you’re Kodak.”
PagerDuty, she says, “is just not going to be Kodak.”