From One Rocketship To the Next

Jim HerboldSo I woke up one morning earlier this year and it actually sank in… my departure from Box was complete. I had helped find and hire my replacement, the transition was finalized, and my last day had come and gone. I had an amazing and career-changing journey over six and a half years at Box – going from the first sales hire to the EVP of global sales. Our team was incredible, the hypergrowth was consistent and predictable, and the company was ready for an IPO. Box’s sales and sales operations engines were humming. We had built a rocketship.

But as the S1 filing approached, I knew it was time for me to begin my next chapter. If your name is on an S1, you really should plan to stick around for a couple years (public markets are not fond of the flux created by a departing head of sales). I wanted to take what I had learned about growth and build again.

There’s an incredible amount of innovation and disruption happening in Silicon Valley right now, and I was humbled by the many opportunities that came my way. But through all of these introductions to amazing companies, there was one that was already the incumbent…

Discovering the next big thing: Predictive

I first met Vik Singh from Infer in 2011 via an introduction from Ben Horowitz. Ben’s firm had invested in Box and also fronted an early investment in Infer. At the time, I was 4+ years into my role running sales at Box, and we were looking for every angle we could find to better understand and optimize our sales and marketing funnel – I am always looking for lift! Part of running a hypergrowth sales engine is making sure you are aggressively squeezing every drop of revenue out of every cluster of leads that you have.

Vik told me he could build a predictive model that would use CRM data and thousands of external signals to float the leads to my reps that would have a higher likelihood to close. He said we could get more revenue from the same sales effort by simply having our reps spend more time on the right leads. Sure, I’ll try that. Who wouldn’t?

I had used lead scoring in marketing automation systems in the past, but I’d never actually seen any proof of lift from those engines, so I was curious to see how this Infer thing would be different. Vik and the team built a predictive model for Box, it showed that we could double our revenue outcome on our largest source of leads, and my jaw hit the floor. I became Infer’s first customer, and I knew they were onto something really special. Data science and predictive analytics for sales and marketing had arrived and I was adopter number one.

Gearing up for blast off

I recall immediately thinking to myself that Infer was probably the only company that could pull me away from Box. I wasn’t ready for that then, but I also wanted to deepen my relationship with Vik and his team. In 2013, I asked Vik if he’d be interested in bringing me on as an advisor. I recall an analogy that Eric Schmidt had told Sheryl Sandberg when he was courting her to join Google: he said that when you spot a rocketship, you should just get a seat at the table, any sort of seat – it’s not about title or role, it’s about getting on board. I couldn’t agree more.

Infer has invented a new category – predictive intelligence – and is the clear leader. Predictive is absolutely the way of the future, especially when it comes to unleashing the value locked up in CRM and marketing automation systems. Every sales and marketing leader in the world will adopt this, and every company with a CRM system needs Infer.

So here I am at the beginning of my next chapter as Chief Revenue Officer at Infer. I’m here because Vik has put together an incredible team of data scientists and company builders. I’m here to give sales and marketing leaders around the planet the same ammunition, insight and revenue lift that Infer gave me at Box. I’m here to lead and sell and help build another rocketship… Watch how far and how fast this one flies!Rocket Ship

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