Get Satisfaction, the CRM-plus-community company, is taking a step in a new direction today with the announcement of a new CEO and president.
Rahul Sachdev, a LinkedIn veteran, actually served as a Get Sat advisor for several months before stepping into the chief executive and president role.
Departing CEO Wendy Lea — one of our favorite San Francisco tech execs — will be taking a seat at the head of Get Sat’s board as executive chair.
We got to chat with Lea and Sachdev yesterday about the switchup — and about certain rumors that the Get Sat business may be flagging. Here’s what they had to say:
VentureBeat: What are your ideas for product?
Sachdev: I have long believed that this is a really exciting space that brings together the CRM world and social. What excites me most is the consumer-oriented nature of the platform … developing that further and unleashing that power.
VentureBeat: What are your ideas on how to move the business forward?
Sachdev: We know talent builds companies. My goal is to hire and retain the best talent. Also, it’s about innovation. We want to innovate faster, to have much greater focus on design, to give customers a voice in the future of the companies whose services they use. … They go there to solve a particular need, so our focus is also on making it easier for everyone across the company to lean in and provide more value to the end customers.
Wendy’s built a fantastic company that is open. It’s easy to work with. That’s the type of value that we communicate to our customers about how they interact with their customers, and we want to provide that to our customers, as well.
VentureBeat: How does your background in content sharing relate to Get Satisfaction’s business?
Sachdev: I’ve spent stints at a CRM company and at LinkedIn, where I was responsible for driving engagement. When I think about online communities, it’s a combination of those two — bringing customers and companies together.
Lea: The elegance of his background really got me focused on Rahul as the future CEO of Get Satisfaction. I knew his experience would serve us well. He seemed like the perfect choice to me.
VentureBeat: Wendy, what will you do in your new role?
Lea: Good business comes from good relationships. I’m focusing on customer relationships; there are about a dozen customers that are very valuable to us.
I’ll be building strategic relationships with Oracle, Adobe, Salesforce, and Microsoft — companies like that. … They’re waking up to the power of community.
Also, I’ll be the company’s evangelist and a key spokesperson.
VentureBeat: Will this free up time for you to do more advising and investing?
Lea: We have an agreement that I will get some time back. I’m very interested in getting back to my roots in early-stage startups. I’m eager to be a mentor to those folks. I also sit on a lot of boards, a lot of private boards and one nonprofit.
VentureBeat: How would you characterize the current state of Get Satisfaction? I’ve heard rumors that the business is flagging. What are you doing to address this perception or any underlying reality?
Lea: Last year, we did make a lot of changes. We invested 18 months in our product, and that took a lot. We also changed our business model. The actual number of customers we onboarded was lower compared to the old days, but they paid more. Our user growth was actually up to 6.7 million registered users, and we’d taken on a million of those in the last six to nine months.
Sachdev: As we look at the business, we think 2013 was a really great year for the company. We launched a new platform, over 100 new communities, we’ve assembled a great leadership team, and all our customers are happy.
I have confidence in our strengths and our strategies. The company has these strong assets, and that’s what attracted me. This company is truly different. We truly believe the consumer, the end user, the customer is the most important part. Without them, you don’t have a community.
VentureBeat: What’s the exit strategy?
Sachdev: I didn’t join the company to think about an exit. It sounds like a cliche, but I genuinely believe in unlocking the value of Get Sat. I came here to build a great product and a great company, to make this a great place to work.
When you do all of those things, companies have more options. And you know, I’ll take that. Dressing the company up for sale is not what I want to do.
Lea: We didn’t spend 18 months rebuilding our product to get a quick acquisition.