[Auren Hoffman] Welcome to World of DaaS, a show for data enthusiasts. I'm your host, Auren Hoffman, CEO of SafeGraph. For more conversations, videos and transcripts, visit SafeGraph.com/podcast.
My guest today is Dean Stoker, Dean was co-founder and former CEO of Alteryx, and current chairman of Alteryx, a $5 billion market cap data analytics automation platform. Dean, welcome to World of DaaS
[Dean Stoecker] Hey, I'm glad I'm a data nerd.
[Auren Hoffman] Yeah, well, we've got two of us here, plus probably every single person listening to this is a data nerd, too. Now Alteryx is a really interesting company and not too many people understand the whole history. It was founded in 1997 and you kind of took a different approach to building Alteryx than the typical venture funded SaaS company. I think it took Alteryx like 10 years to get to $10 million in revenue. And then all of a sudden, it just exploded and everything took off. How did you even stick with it the whole time? And what's that genesis story?
[Dean Stoecker] Yeah, it's a great journey. In fact, I'm writing a book right now called “Masterpiece: the emotional journey to creating anything great”.
[Auren Hoffman] Ah, okay, I got it.
[Dean Stoecker] It is a long journey, there's two ways I think to see success in the tech world. One is to be the tortoise. The other is to be the hare. And I think it depends on what sector you're in and the DNA that you and your team are made of, to kind of determine what path to take. For us it was a 20 year old overnight success to get the IPO, which is definitely not your conventional Silicon Valley journey. Although I have to be careful when I say that, because if you look back at even companies like Tableau, it took them, I think, 15 years to go public. You just don't hear about these stories, you hear about the rocket ship, you know that went public in three years and it's growing at 200%. But our journey started early and you're right, it took a decade to get to $10 million. We went public 20 years after we started, and we were $85 million in revenue when we went out in March of 17. And I think this year, we're expected to do north of 600 million ARR.
[Auren Hoffman] And someone's like Charlie Munger has a famous saying he wants to get rich slowly. And sometimes people are too much of a hurry to get wealthy. Do you ascribe or how do you how do you think about it?
[Dean Stoecker] Well, if the opportunity had arisen to go faster, I would have. It's funny because Charlie Munger might be right on one hand as an investor, but on the other hand, if you're listening to the pundits on Sand Hill Road in Silicon Valley, I think the phrase is slow growth is slow death. And so somewhere in between is the truth. And for us, you know, I do a lot of mentoring now that I'm retired, do a lot of mentoring to young CEOs who might not be prepared for a 23 year journey. And so I mentor them on things that they need to think about. I think that going back to speed, you shouldn't worry about going fast, the CEO’s only job is to make sure that your money outlasts your ability to find the product market fit. And for us, it just took a long time, I don't think the product market fit really took hold until 2014.
[Auren Hoffman] You basically invented this kind of category of analytic automation. Could you explain what that is?
[Dean Stoecker] Yeah, it's an interesting one. So the analytics space has been very fragmented for a long, long time. I think we're probably the only pure play and self-service analytics vendor that exists today. And there's so much confusion about analytics. On one hand, you've got the diagnostic dashboard folks who believe that they're involved in analytics, you've got a billion Excel users who believe they're dealing with analytics, you've got a million SaaS Institute users who believe data science is critical. And nobody really had a good handle on defining what the analytic space looked like. And over the last five years or so, we began to hone in on what was really happening in the space. It began, I think, with the first wave of digital transformation, where people said “we need to automate processes, we need to identify our business processes and find out how to build analytics around them and then automate them”. And data during this time was also fairly elusive. It's still very fragmented, data is all over the place in the cloud, on the ground, in every container.
[Auren Hoffman] And many different apps.
[Dean Stoecker] Yeah, it's all over and so in our case, we decided to make sure that we could see the emergence of the data world with the automation world. And the only way you can actually get to digital transformation is the third element of analytic process automation, and that is upskilling of the worker. It's never going to be done by people living in VLOOKUPs in Excel. Digital transformation isn't going to be done by the SAS, PhD trained statisticians, it's going to be done by mere mortals in the line of business in every functional area, from Sales Ops, to Marketing Ops, to FPNA, to supply chain. Our road was intentional, we said, “we're going to take the biggest TAM, we're not going to fall into the BI trap, we're not going to fall into the descriptive analytics trap”. We recognized early on that analytics is a continuum, it goes from really simple things that you can do in a dashboard, like Tableau or Qlik, all the way up through spatial analytics, to predictive modeling, to machine learning, to automated modeling. And we're the only platform that actually allows code free and code friendly approaches to that entire continuum.
[Auren Hoffman] You benefited from this massive trend over the last 10 years where we've seen this massive rise of data science, right? So the number of data scientists has grown more than 10x in the last 10 years. You obviously saw that trend early, and you had this huge wave that I'm sure that helped your company. How did you identify that trend?
[Dean Stoecker] It's a great question, because I don't think we knew it was going to happen, we knew that there would be the emergence of the citizen data scientist. We were never going to see more than 2 million trained statisticians in the world, but we've identified 50 million potential citizen data scientists who typically live in complex VLOOKUPs.
[Auren Hoffman] Like a McKinsey analyst or something.
[Dean Stoecker] Of course. And this is why today we have 100,000 users of Alteryx at PwC. Because they hated their jobs before using Excel trying to do this complex work. And as a company to digitally transform, they actually wanted to upskill the entire workforce. And Alteryx is a perfect vehicle for upskilling workers to really get a better sense around seeing data as an asset and analytics as a continuum. All for the purpose of automating all business processes, so that you seek out what's reported as being a $15 trillion value that's locked up in data sources around the world.
[Auren Hoffman] The first time we met, you told me that the derivation of the word Alteryx is from alter y x. So explain the geospatial roots of Alteryx.
[Dean Stoecker] Well, that's where most of my career had been. I grew up in the data business, very similar to the kinds of things you're doing, although this was long before cloud, and so data as a service wasn't really an offering back in the day when I was working for content companies, but all the companies that I worked for sold data. And I don't think many of them recognize that the ultimate value in content is when that content becomes ubiquitous. If everyone has the ability to touch it, to play with it, to make it dance. The only way you can get ubiquity, in content, and I don't care if it's POI data, if it's demographic information, things coming out of SQL stores or off of cloud services, it's just data to me. And the ultimate value that you get is when everyone has it. In order for that to occur, people have to have that data wrapped around in elegant, easy to use software. Our drag and drop, click and run approach was the answer to that. You then have to apply an analytic layer to allow users to prosecute both the simple analytics and a dashboard that might end up in Tableau or a PowerPoint presentation or whatever, all the way up through automated modeling. I just think that what happened what was we saw the first wave in about 2009 with the emergence of Qlik and we said “well, there they made it easy to create beautiful dashboards”, but it was still sold to IT, it was managed by IT, governed by IT, paid for by IT. We said “that's not the market we want to be in” and we said “there's going to be something next because every disruption that occurs in the tech world has successors”. And it was Tableau in 2011-12. We started in the spatial business until we found that product market fit. Now, in order for Alteryx to survive, we had to find high value use cases for our platform. We were selling Alteryx for $55,000 a seat, we were selling it for $4,000 in 2014. Because my background was spatial we said “let's be great at spatial”. Spatial is a weird science, it's hard to do. My belief is that the Esri’s the MapInfo’s, as good as those companies were, they were focused on the map, not on the answers. In some cases, the answer can be found in a map, [but] data is the rocket fuel for GIS, the elixir of life for a box of tools. And so we said “let's just prosecute spatial, we'll start to add in all the other components of the analytic continuum until we find the perfect product market fit”, and we found that in 2014.
[Auren Hoffman] You mentioned these data sets, it seems they become more valuable obviously when you can easily use them and manipulate them, so that's where the value of an Alteryx comes in. They also become more valuable when they are more easily joined to other datasets, right? Whether they're joined to internal first party data or other third party data sets, how do you think about things like join keys are the value of these other ways of like linking these datasets together?
[Dean Stoecker] Well, even doing spatial analytics requires the ability to join multiple datasets. Though if you're doing complex spatial work like network optimization for retailers, a super hard problem. The reason the Esri’s and the MapInfo’s had struggled with that, not because they couldn't do it, but the engines weren't fast enough to perform. If you have a couple of 1000 stores in your network and a few million data points for block centroids or whatever it happens to be, with a bunch of demographic information and competitive information and price information, it's really hard to perform these kinds of things and so we just decided to focus in on the thing that everyone needs. I mean, everything that happens in business happens somewhere and so we decided to focus in on that and I think we really got our footing with spatial and then customers started saying “hey, this is so easy to use, I can now join all my relevant data sources”. We did a study just before we went public with IDC and they said that 64% of analysts said they need no less than seven disparate databases for any analytic outcome.
[Auren Hoffman] Wow. Okay. Yeah, so joining them together is really important.
[Dean Stoecker] Joining, cleaning, organizing, enhancing and all of that stuff becomes very important if you're going to get to analytics that matter for people.
[Auren Hoffman] You mentioned Esri a couple of times, the CEO of Esri has also been on this podcast and in some ways, you remind me a lot about him. You both built these very iconic companies, you both got rich slowly, both built your companies in Southern California. Is that a fair comparison to both of you geo nerds, is it a fair comparison to compare you guys?
[Dean Stoecker] It’s funny, I admire Jack a lot, he built a billion or five company, or something like that. I almost went to work there actually before starting Alteryx. And I told Jack “No”, I said “I'm going to start my own business”. I don't know if there's really any comparisons. I think we see the GIS world completely differently. You know, his perhaps through the lens of a map and mine through the lens of data. Because ultimately, I mean, that's the alter y x, you know, you got to have the data before the map becomes even relevant. And you know, you think about navigation in your car, you don't look at the map, you listen to the directions, right? It's a data play. And so I'm not minimizing the importance of a map for certain applications. But I don't know, it's public sector, I think they do incredible work. I think they haven't done as well in the private sector, because people more want to utilize geospatial and Alteryx provides that mechanism for everyone to engage.
[Auren Hoffman] In that timeframe where you're starting to expand, you're starting to grow, how did you figure out how to break into new industries? Did you leverage partners? Did you hire specific industry focus Salesforce, how did you break into these new different industries?
[Dean Stoecker] It's a great question, because by design, we were horizontal, we chose not to go into a vertical until year 20, I think 21.
[Auren Hoffman] Oh, wow. Okay.
[Dean Stoecker] Because we didn't want to box ourselves in as being the price optimization vendor, or just the geospatial vendor. A lot of the point solutions that exist out there, they're all getting disrupted by Alteryx. Because people want more capabilities and fewer tools, not more tools. And instead of having a software portfolio, if you're an enterprise company, instead of having 15 different analytic solutions for each functional area, you get one with Alteryx. And then you provide mobility for your workforce, because they can now go from sales ops to FPNA or FPNA to supply chain or whatever it happens to be. And so we decided to go horizontal for a long time until, I think, healthcare might have been one of our first, because domain expertise in these complex data worlds like healthcare, where you've got lots of regulatory compliance and HIPAA rules and disconnected disparate healthcare data sets. I think that's when we started realizing that deeper expertise would generate additional ARR.
[Auren Hoffman] Did you find any success in using channels? Or did you basically always go direct to the customer?
[Dean Stoecker] In fact, you might not believe this, but some of the very earliest customers of Alteryx were Esri and MapInfo, where we OEM-ed our technology.
[Auren Hoffman] Okay, so essentially, they were big channels in a way?
[Dean Stoecker] They were, MapInfo is a big channel. They actually tried to buy us back in I think it was 2002. And, of course, we were not even on first base yet with the company. So we said, “we're just going to roll this out, because we think it's a significant play”. But for channel partners, we leverage channel partners in significant ways, both resellers and local markets. So today, we're selling in something like 93 countries around the world. And usually, there's a partner involved if it's outside of a domain where we've got a sales team and a support team. So we lead with channel partners, they're very good on the land, some are better on the expand than then others. But the best partnerships tend to be the analytic consulting firms, the global SI’s, almost all of them have standardized Alteryx, KPMG…
[Auren Hoffman] They're both your customer and then they bring you into new customers, when they sign engagements and stuff?
[Dean Stoecker] Yeah, in almost all cases they were sell to, and then they realize “we can recommend this to customers”, or “we can do all the work for customers using this platform”. And so they've become a great channel for us both.
[Auren Hoffman] Is there a way to incent them to more likely recommend? How do you build that relationship with them?
[Dean Stoecker] I think for most of them because they’re customers first, we don't have to wait for them to recommend something because they see the value. They see the ROI and in almost every use case, so there's no special incentives. There's a fairly low margin shift and some of our biggest global partnerships now have a model where aspirationally it's a billion dollars in revenue to us over five years. So it's not the same as resellers, but both are critical in global growth.
[Auren Hoffman] Because Alteryx is really built on a very large user community, you've got this academy of discussions, you've got events, support. I actually spoke at an Alteryx event in 2018. It was amazing. It was huge. It seemed like you took over the entire town of Irvine. What advice would you give to emerging software companies about how to develop a community?
[Dean Stoecker] Well, I think what's funny is that most software companies, I'm not sure they even believe in communities. And they see it as a cost. I can tell you that it is not. So I had community report to me for the first three years.
[Auren Hoffman] You have like a head of community reported directly to the CEO?
[Dean Stoecker] To me, yeah, it'd be good, because what we recognized is that when we talk about this big analytic continuum, it's tricky, because you can do almost anything in Alteryx. I mean, it's used for everything from derivatives modeling in banking, to hedging fuel in airlines, to running on field Player Analytics for the Green Bay Packers. And so it covers off in this gigantic swath. And because there's hundreds of tools, or will be called Building Blocks inside of Alteryx that can be used together and that means 200 or 300 factorial. So we have now billions of combinations of how you could build analytic pipelines. What I'm trying to say is, we prove that analytics is a social experience.
[Auren Hoffman] Okay, so we even when you were like $10 million in revenue, you mentioned you're $55,000 a seat. So you only have a couple 100 seats, essentially, at $10 million in revenue, you still had this community function reporting to you that was really focused on this robust community?
[Dean Stoecker] No, no way. Because back in 2013, we were doing these $55,000 seats, we'd probably add eight or nine logos a quarter. In 2014, we did a bunch of price testing with Tableau. And we found the sweet spot, we found the fact that people who use Tableau don't want to be just in Tableau, they actually want to move up the analytic continuum. And Tableau couldn't provide the rest of that continuum. And that's when we went from nine logos a quarter to 250 logos a quarter it day one, it was crazy. And so we knew that having a community was going to be valuable, especially as we saw net expansion rates that were…the industry, SaaS industry, average for net expansion is something like 106 or 107. For us, for G2K customers, I think it's still 134, something like that. So people, when people land with two seats in 45 days, we know that they're going to buy a bunch more seats in the subsequent quarters. And so we wanted to provide an experience that would allow people to communicate with each other to share workflows. And we have a massive community now. We've won a bunch of awards for being the number one community.
[Auren Hoffman] Okay, so step one of an advice is: just care about the community, essentially, think it's important, what’s step two? I've been involved in lot of companies who want to do a community somehow it still doesn't just appear, it seems like it's a lot of work to develop a community you have.
[Dean Stoecker] You have to invest. My phrase within the company has always been “customer trust defines the integrity of your company”. And to gain that trust, you've got to support them. You can either support them linearly by hiring a bunch more people as you win more customers, which is a terrible financial model. Or, you build out a community to where they can support each other. Not only do you get massive ticket deflections in your support center, but you actually get people coming up with incredible ideas and sharing work product that you hadn't thought of before. So I would say make sure you invest. I don't know how many people we have in the community team today. It's got to be well north of 25 or 30, which is very unusual. Because most executives when they decide to cut something, the first thing they go at are things like community. We publicly have stated that community users of Alteryx, those companies expand three times as much as people who are not involved in community. So we know it works for the benefit of us, and most importantly, the benefit of customers.
[Auren Hoffman] Where I've been like in around Alteryx, like, community and forums and stuff, some of these top community members have posted like 1000s of times. How do you think about these engaged members? How do you get people up the stack to get them more engaged? Is it just kind of supporting them and trusting them? Or how do you move them to once a year to many times a year?
[Dean Stoecker] Again, I think that's just the natural impact of having spent the money and had a company focus around community. The entire software world has gone social, with almost everything and we knew once we started to see the expand model, that it was going to happen in a complex space like this, too. And so I think it's just natural. Obviously we put in a lot of gamification, lots of badges. And so there's the reward system of having all the badges. But people genuinely want to help other people. And it's been really one of the best things I've ever done.
[Auren Hoffman] You talked a couple times, there was this transition where you went from 55K a seat to 4K a seat, as a CEO. To me, that sounds like incredibly scary time, even if you really believe in your strategy and your market? How did you go into that? Did you do anything to mitigate that, because it might not start working like day one? How do you think about that decision? In some ways it seems like one of the most important decisions that was made in the company's history, or was that one decision?
[Dean Stoecker] Yeah, it was one of many big decisions. Well, it's when you go from being a tortoise to becoming the hare. And we knew it was going to happen, we just knew it was going to happen. Because it was Qlik and then Tableau. And then if you know, the contemporary audience of software vendors that we grew up with had I think, chosen the wrong path, [???] has data mirrors burse (?). I think the only other one that actually has made it was Domo. They've struggled with the getting to even their last round, I think they're right at that market cap where their last round of funding was three years ago. So it was $30 million when we made that decision, we were $30 million. And we did testing, we did testing and as an analytics company, last thing you want to do is prove it to yourself that you need to do it, and then be afraid to make the decision. And so we made the decision, we had some make goods with customers who had paid us the previous quarter $55,000 a seat.
[Auren Hoffman] You just called up some huge customer and said, “Hey, you're paying us a few 100k a year and now you're paying 30k a year?”
[Dean Stoecker] No, they would still pay us a few 100k a year, we just give them a whole bunch more seats.
[Auren Hoffman] You're still paying the same revenue. But now you we're going to allow a lot more people in your organization to start benefiting from this product.
[Dean Stoecker] Yeah. And this is part of those difficult decisions on the emotional journey to creating anything great, for me, community was a big decision. Because there were arguments with product early on, because I said, “if we're going to build a community, we're going to integrate it into the UI of the platform”. And not everybody believed in community because in the companies that they had been with community wasn't held to a high standard. And so those decisions, were important, pricing decisions, packaging, making acquisitions to round out the platform were important decisions. I think the most important decision, if there are up and coming entrepreneurs in your on your audience here, was starting a group we a strategy team, we called Bingfa. I'm a somewhat of a Sun Tzu Art of War fan. And Sun Tzu said that strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat. And so early on in 2004, at our very first strategy meeting, we had been building out individual components for Alteryx for the first six years, allocates solo cast genetics, our own geocoding engine. And we decided in 2000, for the very first strategy, Bingfa meeting, we decided to build Alteryx the platform. And it was out about a year and a half later.
[Auren Hoffman] If I remember right, you grew the business initially to about $20 million in revenue before taking outside funding. What was the decision to put off the fundraising, what was the overall strategy, and then why at that point, should you step up the gas and bring in some extra outside capital?
[Dean Stoecker] All of the founders, we all grew up in family run businesses, so we all kind of knew that you had to be conservative and tell you needed to be a little bit more aggressive. And for me, until you find the product market fit, that's the most expensive part. And the I think the other part of it is just outlook. So you know, the Valley has great companies, but there's a lot of people who I think see raising money as a badge of honor.
[Auren Hoffman] Some people have as a scorecard as itself.
[Dean Stoecker] I always saw raising money as a sign of a weakness until you find the product market fit. And so yeah, we’re 14 years self-funded. 2011 was our first raise, we raised $6 million. We were $18 million at the time. And then, of course, once we saw the product market fit, I raised $163 million in three rounds over four years, and then in 2017, went public. And so there's a time and a reason to raise money, but not because you want to be a unicorn. In fact, our favorite line was, “we didn't want to be a unicorn, we wanted to be a monster truck”. And a monster truck was defined by us as a $500 million market cap company growing at 50%. And we did that And in the end, we ended up at a five, five and a half billion dollar play, which is not too bad.
[Auren Hoffman] Yeah, not too bad at all, one of the things you did right before, or pretty close to going public is you change out basically the entire leadership team except for except for the co-founders, how did you think about that decision? How would you advise other founders thinking about their leadership team in different stages?
[Dean Stoecker] I think the hard part about being CEO, is that you've got to be willing to make those tough decisions. To think that the people who got you to $20 million are the people who are going to get you to $200 million, I think there'll be people who surprise you that can do that. And I only had people who could do that. But I think as the stakes get bigger, as the public objects get more critical, you just have to be willing to change out and so yeah, I think the three or four months before the IPO, and the two months after the IPO, pretty much everybody on my team was new. I mean, those are scary decisions, because I hired all those up people. But you got to know who's rowing in your boat when the when the seas get tough, and not everyone's cut out for it.
[Auren Hoffman] Now, recently, after 23 years at the helm of the company, you decided to step down as CEO, it's like peak COVID, you're stepping down, walk us through that decision. And what advice would you give to other long serving CEOs?
[Dean Stoecker] Well, the funniest thing for me was I never really thought much about succession planning. Now I'm 64 years old. So that has to come into play. Even though I'm healthy, it has to come into play at some point.
[Auren Hoffman] Warren Buffett still running Berkshire Hathaway.
[Dean Stoecker] Yeah, exactly. And I think he now has a successor. My very first board meeting, our non Gov committee said to me, “okay, we need to start succession planning” and I said, “Well, wait a minute. I don't even plan on my own demise?”. And we spent every single board meeting talking about succession planning.
[Auren Hoffman] And starting even like 2012 type of timeframe?
[Dean Stoecker] No, 2017 with the board, we did like we discussed it with the investors from 2014 on, but it became more serious, one, because as a public company, you have to do succession planning, I mean, if something had happened, and we weren't ready and so I started replacing my VCs off the board with operating board members, found Mark Anderson, at Palo Alto Networks, he joined our board almost three years ago now. And he was the perfect outsider running for the role. And he said [yes], a couple of years under his belt on the board, and now has my role. And I think for founding CEOs, you have to be more careful with succession planning, because a lot of CEOs who might take over, might now want to have an executive chair like me looking over your shoulder,
[Auren Hoffman] You feel real ownership in this company.
[Dean Stoecker] Yeah, I'm still the largest shareholder. And then my personal nest egg is in Alteryx stock. And so you would think that I would be all over this stuff. And I told Mark, that was a great partnership that we made, I said, “Listen, I'm only going to help you when you ask for it. I'll be a great board member and help lead the board. But I'm only going to get involved when you need me to get involved”. And there's been some cases, but you know, because he's a first time CEO. But he's got all the DNA to take Alteryx to a billion dollar company.
[Auren Hoffman] How did you know this was the right time for you? How did you know “this is the time for me now to actually go through this succession”?
[Dean Stoecker] There's probably people who plan their careers from start to finish. And they have it in a notebook or on a calendar, and they're living and dying by that calendar. I never really thought about it that way. I mean, I didn't start Alteryx till I was age 40. People say “what would you tell your 25 year old self?”, I would say, “don't wait till you're 40 to start”. And so I think I think it's knowing that you've built a business that can be inherited in a pretty seamless way. You know, I was a quarterback in high school, and I wasn't that great of a quarterback. In part, because I would always hand the ball off or someone else had to catch the ball. And you have to be willing and prepared to turn it over to somebody else. And for me, I found the perfect guy. And it just seemed like a good time. I didn't want to lose Mark and his opportunity. He's done it twice. He's one of a handful of people on the planet that have built multi multiple times to a billion dollars.
[Auren Hoffman] Okay, so a couple of personal questions. So if you were governor of California or Colorado, what data would you look at to better run the government?
[Dean Stoecker] Wow. Well, I think that that governments need to utilize every possible piece of data to be more efficient with taxpayers money. Now, we do a lot of work in state and local governments, we can make some work in the fed with interesting agencies like DOD and commerce. You know, our first two contracts with the Census Bureau was managing the delivery of the central census data. And you know, that data gets used by urban planners, it gets used by everybody. And so I think governments need to be better stewards with our tax dollars by leveraging content. And that cell phone content and things like that, but I'm talking about things that really help distribute services more efficiently.
[Auren Hoffman] Like a traveling salesman problem, or do we have to actually invest in the things that are working and stop investing in things that are not working?
[Dean Stoecker] Well, I think digital transformation needs to happen at all levels of government. You know, a lot of the agencies in DC still are struggling. And I think Chief Data officers only came in to present being less than two years ago. And so understanding the data you've got, rather than every agency having their own. Look at the work that you're doing, I mean, all of the Open Gov initiatives for making it easier for people to consume everything from property tax records, to voting data, even though there's probably the people who wouldn't want that to happen. There's all kinds of data that can be used to improve the way government operates. Because I think that smaller government is needed. And I think instead of raising taxes, let's figure out a way to leverage content to make better decisions.
[Auren Hoffman] It's hard somehow in inertia for government to make some of these hard decisions. Because there things that governments are doing incredibly well. And there's people are benefiting, incredible. But there's also other things that maybe, like all companies, you try things out, and some things didn't work out, but they keep going. There's this inertia to keep these certain things going that are maybe not working so well. Do we just have to live with that that's just the way it is for government? Or is there some sort of way of putting something in place are these harder decisions can be made?
[Dean Stoecker] Well, this goes back to the very first part of the conversation that we started out in. And that was around APA. Analytic Process Automation needs to occur within the government. And the most important part of APA is upskilling the workforce. But what's going to hurt government is when you know, talented Python coders come out of college and they can say, “Do I want to go work for the government or do I want to go work for Google?” And we know what decision they're going to make. And I think that puts the government further and further behind. So they've got to be cognizant of upskilling the workforce by giving them fun, engaging platforms like ours, and probably not only Alteryx by lots of other things, that allow people to get excited about going to work and solving complex problems. And every agency has these issues. I know the government's invested a lot of money, but you're right, they've got to do things a bit differently. And taking some lead from the private sector, I think is a reasonable approach.
[Auren Hoffman] Last question we ask all of our guests, besides for telling yourself in your 20s to start Alteryx, or a company like that, if you had to go back in time, what advice would you wish you could have told your younger self?
[Dean Stoecker] I think it really is about having the courage to start, and I guess I did. You'd read this in my book, I had three or four other startups. They were small, didn't cost me a lot, although one was big enough to hurt. But get out there and learn, and take chances and identify opportunities. I mean, it's amazing what's happening. Clayton Christensen talks about disruptive innovation, and there's so many things that haven’t yet been disrupted. That whole process of taking an old practice and putting it in the hands of a whole new user class. That's all we did. We didn’t change analytics, we simply democratized it. And anyone who's thinking about starting a business, make sure that it's a disruptive innovator, and take the chance and go for it. And don't isolate yourself because what I learned from the very beginning was that no one's going to believe your idea as much as you, and so be patient, get ready for the long journey, because it will take you through the peaks of enlightenment and troughs some disillusionment. The swamp of effing despair.
[Auren Hoffman] Yeah, read some Sun Tzu maybe on the way. This has been awesome, thank you tell people where they can find more about you on the internet?
[Dean Stoecker] My LinkedIn is Dean Stoecker, you can Google me, there's all kinds of fun interviews like this one. From every everyone from CNBC to podcast with all kinds of people around the world, in Middle East and in Europe. And for any entrepreneurs who are interested, I've got more time on my hands, of course now. I'm happy to have a chat with you if you're trying to figure out what to do, or struggling through some of the decisions because over 23 years, I've probably seen most of the things that you're likely to see. And whether you take the information and run with it or seek additional advice, just don't be afraid to reach out it's [email protected]
[Auren Hoffman] One of the most amazing things about the entrepreneurial environment that we live in is that there are people like you, and you're not alone, there are many people like you. You've had incredible success and then are willing to mentor and help. I had many when I was a younger CEO and had many, many people like you who helped me out. And it's just this incredible thing in the water or the air that people like you or not just off on their yacht, they're actually willing to be engaged and help people for really just because they like to help.
[Dean Stoecker] Well, I think that when you've been through the trials and tribulations of a 23 year journey, not having raised for 14 years, there's a lot of advice that you can give to people There's no book you can buy that's going to tell you, you know how to do this. My book might be the closest they'll give you some tips. Not in running the business necessarily, but in running yourself.
[Auren Hoffman] When does your book “The Masterpiece” come out?
[Dean Stoecker] Hopefully in September, we're kind of going through the drafts at the present moment.
[Auren Hoffman] Okay, awesome. I really can't wait to read it. Thank you so much, Dean for being a world of das. It's been a real pleasure.
[Dean Stoecker] All right, thanks to the data nerds.
[Auren Hoffman] Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed this show, consider rating this podcast and leaving a review. For more World of DaaS (DaaS is D-A-A-S), you can subscribe on Spotify or Apple Podcasts. Also check out YouTube for the videos. You can find me on Twitter at @auren (A-U-R-E-N). I’d love to hear from you.
Dean Stoecker, co-founder and former CEO of Alteryx, talks with World of DaaS host Auren Hoffman. Alteryx is a $5 billion market cap data analytics automation platform. Alteryx knew that digital transformation would be driven by workers in every functional area of a business, from Sales Ops to FP&A to supply chain, and not just the PhD-trained statisticians. So they built a platform that allowed for code-free and code-friendly approaches to the entire analytics continuum.
Auren and Dean explore the rise of the citizen data scientist, how Alteryx defined the analytics space, and how they built a product that supported the entire analytics continuum. They also dive into why Alteryx invested in long-term strategies, including channel partnership and a user community, to slowly yet effectively strengthen their business.
Spotting talent is really hard. Identifying A-players can feel impossible. Peter Thiel has one of the best interview questions for identifying talent, “What important truth do very few people agree with you on?” But Daniel Gross disagrees. Daniel believes easygoing questions like “What movies do you like to watch?” elicit more telling responses.
Daniel Gross is the CEO of Pioneer, a reimagined version of the startup accelerator focused on identifying, motivating, and enabling the next wave of founders. Daniel previously founded Cue, which was acquired by Apple, and was a partner at Y Combinator. Daniel co-authored with Tyler Cowen the soon-to-be-released book, Talent: How to Identify Energizers, Creatives, and Winners Around the World. Simply put, Daniel is an expert on spotting talent.
Auren and Daniel dive into Daniel’s favorite interview questions, how to distinguish between good and great employees, what makes a 10xer, and how to measure productivity. They also explore why the strongest leaders are energetic, enthusiastic, and funny.
Tyler Cowen is Professor of Economics at George Mason University, host of the Conversations with Tyler podcast, blogger at Marginal Revolution, author of several books (including one my personal favorites, the Great Stagnation).
Tyler is one of the very few truly committed to constantly learning. He also reads 5-10x faster than a fast reader, so his superpower is consuming large amounts of information.
Auren and Tyler cover how the last year drove the end of the Great Stagnation, society’s newfound appreciation for big business, why Tyler thinks economists’ use of data is overrated, how to spot talent, why organizational capital would be one of the most valuable data sources, and so much more.