Two weeks ago I joined X1 as CEO, a company I am convinced is in the process of disrupting not just the eDiscovery industry, but the regulatory compliance and corporate governance markets as well. As I discussed at length with the X1 team and board of directors during the interview process, I see in X1 a ton of similarities to Recommind circa 2007 (shortly after I joined), alongside several additional advantages we didn’t have at Recommind back then. Does this guarantee greatness for years to come for X1? Absolutely not. But it gives us the opportunity to control our own destiny which is all a software startup can ask. Here’s why.
- X1’s team and culture are strong. I have learned the hard way how important culture is, how it can be instrumental in raising a collective effort to new heights or hold an otherwise successful company back from reaching its potential. X1 is filled with people who have been here for 5, 7, 10 and even 14 years (here’s looking at you Alan!). People here just want to win, to help make clients successful. Our balance sheet and cap table are clean. Revenue is growing nicely and we are cashflow positive. Our investors, shareholders and board of directors have reasonable expectations about our plans and timelines (so far, anyway J). X1ers are actually nice, which is a refreshing throwback coming from what has become a frequently cutthroat, arrogant culture amongst many of Silicon Valley’s largest tech companies and VC community. We are building something special at X1, and if we execute well with a customer-centric focus at all times, everything else – accolades, continued revenue growth and profitability, financial gain – will take care of itself.
- Making information actionable is really hard. When I worked at AccessData, a few VC friends of mine gave me grief for being at a company named after a problem that had already been solved. “Accessing” information is indeed easy in most cases; however, making the right information “actionable” is an entirely different endeavor that is extremely difficult without X1 software. What has changed over the last 10-15 years is the sheer volume and variety of information being created and therefore subject to litigation, regulatory scrutiny and corporate governance mandates. Our industry-leading X1 Social Discovery product is proof of this, but the variety of today’s information doesn’t stop at social media: think of collaboration tools like Slack, Skype or Teams. Simply put, people communicate in a far more varied way today than they used to, and making these varied data types available and actionable is hard. I want to be at a company that is already addressing these challenges for our corporate, government, law enforcement and law firm clients, with ample runway to extend these capabilities, and X1 is exactly that.
- The pressure on companies to find and act upon data is enormous. In the last 2 weeks we have done webinars on finding information on the Dark Web and California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CaCPA). These topics weren’t on corporate radars – and in the latter case didn’t even exist – as recently as last year. Add in GDPR, the growing impact of cybersecurity/breaches, migration of information to SaaS platforms and the cloud and the ever-present scrutiny of regulatory authorities globally and companies are struggling to make their information actionable as never before. And this situation is unlikely to get any simpler or easier in the coming years, as the way we all communicate continues to evolve more quickly every year.
I have learned over my career (and life for that matter) that timing is a key part of life. It’s rarely something we can control, but it has a huge impact on all of us. X1 has a terrific opportunity to fill key customer needs at the exact time they need it, and has a team committed to customer success that genuinely cares. I am extremely fortunate to be here at this time and can’t wait to see where we can take the company over the next 5 years and beyond.
– Craig Carpenter