14 Minutes of SaaS

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14 Minutes of SaaS

Listen to 14 Minutes of SaaS  Spotify Apple podcasts / Google Podcasts / TuneIn Stitcher

E117 – App Annie CEO Ted Krantz – 3 of 3 – Adding Lustre to the Gem

Ted Krantz App Annie CEO

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 117 of 14 Minutes of SaaS, the final instalment of a 3 episode chat with Ted Krantz, CEO of App Annie. This kicks off with some fascinating insights into the thinking behind App Annie’s brand metamorphosis – embodied by a completely altered logo. And, as is traditional for 14 Minutes of SaaS, we’ll receive some great advice from our guest. This time it’s more career advice for those who want to get into the C-suite in established tech companies as opposed to our usual advice for SaaS founders.

Stephen Cummins: So I have to ask you what’s with the new diamond logo because you have … ?

Ted Krantz: Don’t call it a diamond, Stephen

Stephen Cummins: Okay. Forgive me. Okay. So that’s… that’s just me looking at it, but the new logo with, and it looks like, kind of Sci-fi, really clean, strong upper case logo. It could not be more … it’s like a statement of saying ‘We have changed!’ …  because what was there for all those years was the friendliest of handwriting.

Ted Krantz: Yeah.

Stephen Cummins: And suddenly, I see something with tight angles, sharp clean …  and I see very, very clean professional looking uppercase font. What are you trying to transmit to the world?

Ted Krantz: You have good eye!

Stephen Cummins: I do.

Ted Krantz: You know, many different things. One. Who writes by hand anymore? Right?

Stephen Cummins: Makes sense

Ted Krantz: The icon itself. Yes, it’s got a friendly component to it, but  … does it have the right enterprise premium flair to it? Especially when you’re selling to the C-level and our average deal size is about $100,000. Okay? So there are issues there. The second piece is … It has never been refreshed. And we’re at a point in time or we’re changing the trajectory of the company with this much broader value proposition than just the way you used the think about App Annie. So it was the natural transition. And I was very passionate that we need to do it. We more affectionately like to think of it as a gem.

Stephen Cummins: Okay. It’s a softer word.

Ted Krantz: Yeah. But it’s got more to it than … more artistic quality than just calling it a Diamond.

Stephen Cummins: Okay.

Ted Krantz: There’s times you can look at it … and it looks like a gem … and there’s other times it looks like an open box… by design.

Stephen Cummins: Okay.

Ted Krantz:  Depending on if we’re using the colour version or the black & white version.

Stephen Cummins: Is it connected with the gamers?

Ted Krantz: There’s a level up element of gaming that we used in the gem aspect. There’s also a unit of data in terms of the box and the dimension and depending on how you’re looking at it. And then with the colour highlighted like you’re talking about … it’s like a hotspot. Could that be an opportunity to dive into? All of that was framed with a great deal of deliberation to come up with that logo

Stephen Cummins: For sure

Ted Krantz: The other thing that I like about it … it’s a logo mark that unique; and it’s something that can identify us without the name itself. We AB, tested this like crazy because we’ve been around a long while. We want to make sure we get it right. Yeah, we had 80 percent affinity across the board for this new logo, including our customers, well globally with a big sample size. And I’ve heard very little negative. Only Upside in terms of this release. So when you get these things look at Slack. When they changed their logo, that didn’t go so great. And so I felt really proud that we developed this logo with our own intellectual property as well. It was all in-house.

Stephen Cummins:  Definitely, clearly a much better fit for an enterprise grade company with high-tech massive investments in… in… in cutting edge technology. So coming back to your good self Ted, living such hectic life. I mean, you’re running the company and you’re running around here which, you know, I know how tiring that can be. You know, how do you keep mind and body together? How do you stay healthy?

Ted Krantz: I’m a huge… I’ve done a lot of martial arts over the years. I’m a huge believer in physical mental, spiritual and kind have been three dimensional at all times. So no matter what it takes, everyone that knows me knows this as well. I’ll work out almost every day. If I don’t get my workout in a particular day, it’s very rare. It’s something that I really need to disengage and get physical … that allows me to also think more creatively. I do a lot of my work inside my head in terms of strategy and considerations when I’m in the gym that I wouldn’t normally do if I’m just running from meeting to meeting.

Stephen Cummins: Is that a form and meditation for you?

Ted Krantz: I do meditation separately.

Stephen Cummins: Okay.

Ted Krantz: I started Headspace. I grew up doing martial arts. I’ve always been a little bit intrigued by that. I’ve gotten to a point where I am more self-aware of that and I’ll work on it …. but it’s like 10 minutes a day. I’m not like, you know, the Twitter CEO enable to do it for, whatever it is, 90 minutes every morning. I’m not built that way, but I’ll try to block, you know, 10 minutes and I’ll do that every day. And it’s really helpful. My whole philosophy on meditation is changed as a result of Headspace because they’ve mainstreamed it. I used to think of meditation as just blocking that 10 minutes … and trying to, like, get all the thoughts … fighting them out of your head. And then there’s a point where you’re more enlightened, you say now the philosophy is to get to that calm perspective and then apply it in the everyday world.  That’s very beautiful to me in terms of finding a way to get to that next level and really stay tuned to that meditative state of just, like … letting things happen and not react.

Stephen Cummins: Yeah. And I guess when you’re emptying your mind … and I am guessing, when you’re meditating; that’s more just a complete dissociation. Whereas your ideas, I think you were saying, come in the gym …

Ted Krantz: They do.

Stephen Cummins: … because you’re just focusing on something repetitive that, you know, automatically …

Ted Krantz: In particular swimming.

Stephen Cummins: Okay.

Ted Krantz: Because I don’t swim with music so I’m swimming and I’m thinking the whole time.

Stephen Cummins: Okay. Yeah. That’s when your ideas come to you.

Ted Krantz:  Yes. Or on the bike. I’ll be texting the people in the office.

Stephen Cummins: I used to time trial on the bike. I love the bike. So what’s the one personal quality, if you were to pick one, that you feel, you know has helped you succeed over the years? Is there something that you could actually see in yourself that is common to the period when you’re in that kind of, you know, in that battle stage in sales roles? And then in a more kind of leadership and roll in sales and then moving into the C-Suite and all of that. Is there… is there one internal quality that you feel you have that has helped you continue to succeed as you’ve moved into those roles?

Ted Krantz: I’ve gotten away with great qualities in terms of public face, presenting on the stage, the presence, all of that is something that I think I do organically really well. But I think what differentiates me… there’s a lot of people that do that well…What makes me unique, I think, is being a coach.

Stephen Cummins: Okay.

Ted Krantz: I’m motivated by coaching, I push and I challenge and I develop people. And I develop people that want to be developed. If I have someone on my team that I feel like has hit their career arc and they feel like they’ve got great game and they don’t have a lot of tuning to do, I don’t invest much. But where I will invest is on people that I think have great potential that are high quality people, and I want to see them thrive. And more of my career, especially at this stage, is that motivation. It’s watching them shine. I’ve had my time.

Stephen Cummins: And have you found as you’ve moved kind of from company to company that people come with you sometimes?

Ted Krantz: Yeah. I’ve always had a following that way for sure. And I’ve also inherited people that may have been ready to walk out the door that are ready to stay with me for the long run too. So I take pride in both of those.

Stephen Cummins: Is there anything you’d like to be better at?

Ted Krantz: There’s a lot of things that I’d like to be better at.

Stephen Cummins: Anything in particular?

Ted Krantz: Consistent feedback would say I could probably be a little more patient. I think that’s a… that’s a consistent trend for the… for the team that… that works for me.

Stephen Cummins: They’re not smiling though. They’re deadly serious.

Ted Krantz: Yeah, no. They’re actually in the room with us laughing at the moment because they know how true that is. I do have a tendency to set the expectation just slightly higher than is probably doable. Right. So there’s always that element of managing my expectation … that it’s gonna take a little bit more time and so, yeah, those are some things that I know I could do better.

Stephen Cummins: So three of Ted’s senior team in the room here are having a little giggle. Yeah. As he’s saying all of that. What are you most proud of in your life so far… That’s always a tough one because you have family.

Ted Krantz: My life in general. Yeah. If you make it that broad, it’s outside of work. It’s my daughter. My daughter’s a Rockstar. Straight A student. She works for Goldman Sachs. She’s been my hero. Her life is so buttoned up. I wasn’t like that. It took me a while to work out the kinks and… and grow up. She’s just, you know, been so steadfast and hungry from an academic perspective and now career perspective. It’s simply admirable.

Stephen Cummins: It’s fantastic to here that. If you were to give a little piece of advice for somebody who wants to work their way up through the SaaS rank or through the technology ranks…

Ted Krantz: In today’s world…

Stephen Cummins:  …In today’s world into a C Level role into… into a major leadership role and they’re entering it, let’s say early days. What’s the one or two things you might impart to that person?

Ted Krantz: Keep your head down and get it done. There’s too much of a tendency today to self-promote, to push and ask for the constant, you know, next level. And I think you have to … there’s a mix of make it happen and let it happen. If I look back at my career that you need to have … early on in my sales career, I was motivated by one simple thing. Fear of failure. I went out on my own, I paid for my college. I was motivated by failure. I’m not gonna fail. And there’s a point where it starts to kick in. It was probably around Peoplesoft where I’d like ‘No, I know I’m good at this’ and now it’s about maximising this and that “let it happen” starts to prevail over “make it happen. And I think that’s where my career really took off. If I could break it down, that’s a fundamental that I’d like to impart on others.

And the last thing too is …. Getting to the C-Suite I think it happens almost in an indirect way. You … you will simply lift. Once you get to a Level 2 Manager, your career after that kind of organically plays out. But for me, it’s from individual contributors to first level manager … there’s a big gate there. And then between first and second level, those are the two big hurdles. So if you can make it over that, you get the second level, you got a chance at some point in time. And then you’ve got to round yourself out.

And I do think you have to learn how to balance strategy and execution all the time. I see that even today at the C-Suite. Internally, at our company and other places. Sometimes executives, even at the highest levels, they have a very difficult time balancing execution and strategy. I relentlessly push my team with strategic programs to the point that they just want to throw up on me is like ‘It’s too much! It’s too much!”  I’m like “No, you got a balance both!” And so I think executives that can organically pull off balancing execution and strategy … try to, you know, balance that time equation as much as you can … are going to be the ones that rise to the top.

Stephen Cummins: Thank you very much, Ted Krantz, for giving me “14 Minutes of SaaS” … and a lot more by looks at the time clock there. Thank you.

Ted Krantz: Thank you, Stephen. It was fun. Thanks so much.

Stephen Cummins: Thanks a million.

Stephen Cummins: In the next episode, 118 of 14 Minutes of SaaS, we’ll have the first of 2 episodes with Minnesota’s Bill Magnuson, CEO and Co-founder of Braze, a hyper-growth customer engagement platform. Like App Annie, Braze also passed the 100M ARR (Annual Recurring Revenue) line last year … and again mobile data is a major focus

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

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

Listen to 14 Minutes of SaaS on Spotify Apple podcasts / Google podcasts / TuneIn Stitcher