DocuSign’s search for a successor to chief executive Keith Krach is over, more than a year after it started. The company announced today that it has hired former Responsys CEO and chairman Daniel Springer to lead the company. Springer plans to expand DocuSign’s leadership role within the digital transactional management space and guide the company to an eventual public offering.
The announcement ends a rather long courtship that started in the summer of 2015 when an executive recruiter reached out to Springer about working at DocuSign. Springer declined because he had just left cross-channel marketing automation platform Responsys, after it was acquired by Oracle, and he wanted to spend time with his family. Then, last November, DocuSign reapproached Springer, who signed a contract before Christmas.
He considered his time leading Responsys as a “perfect warm up” to running DocuSign, explaining that the processes around scaling a business, taking it public, and finding it a home were “great training and experience.” But the difference for Springer is that while Responsys “did shape a category, DocuSign really built its own category,” and this is what he wants to pursue as CEO.
Some areas of interest include opportunities around payments, where you’re able to provide secure transactions after signing documents, such as for partnerships, contracts, or housing leases. In addition, Springer wants to accelerate DocuSign’s international expansion, doubling down on markets like Asia Pacific, Latin America, and Europe.
Springer’s vision is to “own the category” of digital transaction management. “I want to build a very significant, independent company.” This could also mean eventually going public — he shared that an IPO is in the cards but said that no specific timeline exists.
“I’ve spent a lot of time looking at DocuSign and determining what will have to happen to make it public-ready,” Springer said. “From my assessment, there’s nothing that stands in the way of DocuSign being a public company. [We have] significant business, growth, and we feel that it’s more than adequate to go public….Another big bucket is having a team in place that you feel confident in operating in the public market. The management team is very strong in scaling this business. I feel the boxes are all checked, and now it’s about figuring out the right timing.”
DocuSign began its search for a new CEO when Krach announced he was stepping down in 2015 after eight years at the helm. Last March, the company was all set to announce a new chief, but that unnamed candidate — believed to be Rick Osterloh — opted out at the last minute. DocuSign said in a statement:
The objective of our built-to-last succession plan is to attract the highest caliber talent, and purposely we never set a timeline for the decision. All of the individuals interviewed were outstanding – and this candidate was among the best of the best. Once he announced plans to leave his current role, another company with unlimited resources approached him with an offer. After careful consideration, he chose to join the other company.
Analysts and pundits had weighed in on possible successors to Krach. The list includes Enrique Salem, board member, former Symantec CEO, and Bain Capital Ventures managing director.
Now, 10 months later, Springer has been hired and Krach has assumed the sole role of chairman. Springer admits that there were questions about the company’s performance after the last candidate dropped out, but based on conversations with board members and others at DocuSign he sensed that “it’s a quality group.”
He plans to work alongside Krach to further DocuSign’s growth. Springer explained that Krach will be working more in the boardroom than in the field but will be used “aggressively” to support the company’s business growth objectives. “I’m feeling super aligned with Keith on that front,” he said.
“After our comprehensive CEO search, I am confident that Dan is the right leader to continue our hyper growth, further strengthen our preeminence in the market, and further inspire the innovative, entrepreneurial, values-based culture of DocuSign,” Krach said in a statement.
The lengthy process of selecting a CEO has resulted in some internal issues at DocuSign. According to Bloomberg, as the search dragged on, four of the nine top executives departed the company, including two senior vice presidents.
Krach has promised he’ll remain chairman for at least the next three years now that Springer is on board.