Today, we’ve officially announced that Zack Urlocker has joined our team as Chief Operating Officer. Despite his boyish looks, Zack is what the Silicon Valley Press describes as a veteran technology executive, bringing more than 20 years of marketing and management experience to Zendesk.
His resume lists one amazing achievement after the other, and he is renowned for his work at MySQL, taking the open-source software company to nearly $100M in revenues, before it was acquired. Impressive. I don’t think I know any software startup that hasn’t built its software on MySQL, Zendesk included.
MySQL’s most noteworthy achievement was building an awesome, open-source, enterprise-class product, suitable for almost any kind of company that still managed to reach nearly $100M in revenues. And that’s in part why we think it’s such a scoop to have attracted Zack to our team. Like MySQL, we take great pride in making our software affordable, available, and suitable for any kind of company, small or large. I also believe that Zendesk’s cloud-based deployment model is disruptive in the same way that open source was previously. It enables us to deliver a high-quality product more cost-effectively than ever before. For many of our customers, it would be more expensive just to host and manage the software themselves than what they pay us in total fees.
The first question a CEO gets when he hires a COO is always: what will you do? My answer is always very precise: I will do CEO stuff. Joking aside, we really wanted to give Zack maximum impact in running the customer-facing areas of our business. As a first-time Silicon Valley CEO, my goal is to build the best team possible. That way we can make Zendesk the world’s premier customer support help desk company.
So far, the trajectory looks good. As you can read in our press release we quadrupled our revenues between 2009 and 2010 and tripled our customer base. We announced 5,000 customers back in May and more than 22 million users by the end of 2010.
Before we hired Zack, I had a long and good talk with Mårten Mickos, the former CEO of MySQL. He told me that Zack would come to me with all the stuff that I didn’t want to hear, but needed to hear in order to scale the company. That turned out to be true. In the short time that Zack has been with Zendesk, we have tried to look at our business with new eyes. It’s not always easy, but man, it’s rewarding. We are already getting great ideas on how to improve our business and better serve our customers.
The day Zack agreed to join the company coincided with the consumption of many beers at a Zendesk meetup in San Francisco. We knew we had found the perfect fit for our company when Zack held his own drinking shots of Schnapps at our Christmas holiday party. MySQL was obviously a great training ground in many different areas!
Zack, welcome aboard!
P.S. To learn more about what drew Zack to Zendesk, check out my interview with him here.