Blog Posts |
Why I joined LeapYear – Transforming Data Exchange in the Financial Services Industry
I am excited to announce my joining to the LeapYear Technologies team in the role of President of Financial Services Industry. I’d like to use this blog to explain my rationale for joining the team, and why I am so excited about the prospect of helping my colleagues in the financial services sector more fully leverage their massive data sets.
For over 30 years I have served in various roles across the financial services sector. I started my career in sales, working at companies such as Reuters and SunGard (now part of FIS), and eventually had the opportunity to be the CEO at two companies including SmartStream Technologies. More recently I ran corporate development in capital markets for Temenos, and then joined C3.ai to run their financial services practice. My career has given me opportunities to experience a wide variety of commercial models, and I’ve studied very carefully how to help my customers generate superior returns on their investments.
About three months ago I was introduced to Ishaan, the CEO of LeapYear. The company had an open search for someone to lead their growing practice in the financial services sector. As I got to know the company I became intrigued by the opportunities they had in front of them, and how I may help support their growth. Here are the key points I considered when evaluating joining:
- Transformative power (e.g. is there massive value?) – Having seen many aspects of both the FSI ecosystem, and surrounding vendors, I had to ensure that any move I made had the ability to truly transform our customers. As I learned about the LeapYear technology, and the use cases they were enabling, I saw firsthand how transformative the technology would be. The company is truly enabling two massive trends to play nicely together: the need to be AI-driven, and the need to protect privacy. As we move into the next phase of the data driven economy, the ability to effectively and efficiently use sensitive data is rapidly becoming a strategic imperative for every enterprise. LeapYear uniquely solves this challenge.
- Differentiation (e.g. is there sustainable value, and is it hard to replicate?) – As many parts of the data and analytics ecosystem mature, I’ve watched many companies move from innovative to commoditized. As I evaluated LeapYear I looked very closely at the uniqueness of the offering. Two things struck me as distinctly unique. First, it’s the only company I could find that was exclusively focused on bringing differential privacy to mainstream use. As I talked with my network of friends, the board and the team at LeapYear, it was clear the company has a large first mover advantage. Second, the business model is unique in that LeapYear can truly enable data exchange at scale, with rigorous privacy. This gives the company a chance to outperform reasonable expectations on growth, which is critical for a sales team.
- Product reality (e.g. can the value be rapidly scaled?) – it’s no secret that many companies claim more than their product offering can deliver to entice the market, and drive adoption. With LeapYear, I spent a good deal of time understanding the product market fit, how real and extensible were the use cases, and would the software deliver. Without doubt, the product is real, and its applications across banks, money managers, data vendors, exchanges, clearing houses, insurance and payments companies are vast and confirmed by customers. Again, for a sales organization this is critical, as it allows us to scale the customer base rationally, without the need to create specialized product development for each use case or customer.
With all these points addressed, it came down to understanding the team and my fit. As part of the hiring process, I was asked to build a go to market plan, and support that plan with applications of the technology. As I listed potential customers, and sub-segments in FSI, I was surprised at how many places we could take the software, and how transformative it would be to each segment. And as I explored this plan with the team, I was impressed both with the thoughtfulness of the company, but also it’s supporting infrastructure. Having investors like Bain Capital and LSVP, along with advisors such as John Thompson and Joe Grundfest, simply augmented the ability to truly reach the market, scale the offering, and drive commercial success.
I’ve been at the company a month, and am happy to report that all those points I validated during the interview process are more than confirmed. Our team continues to grow to keep up with pipeline growth, and the applications and use cases that continue to expand and enable transformative capabilities for our customers.