Why This CEO Pumped The Brakes On Growth Before Stepping On The Gas

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Why This CEO Pumped The Brakes On Growth Before Stepping On The Gas

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Photo Courtesy of SendGrid

This month SendGrid, a cloud-based customer communication platform, announced the opening of its new global headquarters in downtown Denver. A leader in email deliverability, SendGrid has 40,000 paying customers and delivers over 30 billion emails each month for internet and mobile-based customers like Airbnb, Pandora, HubSpot, Spotify, Uber and FourSquare and more traditional enterprises like Intuit and Costco.

This move consolidated three separate offices while more than doubling the capacity of the company’s previous Colorado footprint. Currently they have just over 300 employees spread across Colorado and California and plan to grow to 900 by 2020.

Rapid growth at this scale doesn’t happen responsibly unless the financials are solid. SendGrid projects crossing $100 million in revenue next year and has already booked two profitable quarters. IPO preparations are underway.

SendGrid CEO Sameer Dholakia joined in 2014 when the company had roughly 200 employees. Despite an eagerness to capitalize on the upside potential, his first move as CEO was to throttle back the investment in growth.

“On the financial side, I wanted us to increase our rate of spending at no rate faster than revenue growth,” says Dholakia, who has 20 years of experience in bringing high growth, disruptive cloud and enterprise software solutions to market. “We weren’t doing that in 2014.”

He started by slowing hiring, he says, because talent acquisition is the single most important decision made every week . Then he installed new leaders over every major function of the business who could convey a clear direction and future focus. “New talent doesn’t appreciate a lack of organization or a lack of clarity on priorities,” Dholakia explains. “They want to know how they’ll develop new skills or they’ll bounce out quickly.”

With this new layer of management in place, he commenced a major cultural shift regarding recruiting. He taught hiring managers to view attracting, developing, and retaining talent as central to their roles and insisted that they always make the trade-off that benefits the long-term.

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