How did you come up with the idea for Zuora?

Answered by: Tien Tzuo, CEO, Zuora

Category: Product Development

It's been a 10-year journey. Most people think of us as a billing system but we're a complete commerce and financial solutions solution. We do pricing, quoting, billing, revenue recognition - the whole thing - but the genesis of the idea was at Salesforce. At Salesforce in the early days, we were trying to figure out how do we use this new business model for subscriptions (or pay-as-you-go business model) where we say to companies, "Look you don't have to pay us millions of dollars. Just pay us on a monthly basis based on how many users you have." And that simple idea exploded and now the whole software sector is sold and purchased and consumed as a subscription.

Ten years ago, we took a step back and thought there's nothing about what we did that's intrinsic only to software. It could really apply to any other industry. We looked at early examples of Zipcar and Netflix when they were still mailing out DVDs and realized there's a whole world of subscription services that can be had. And that was a really interesting idea for us because what you're looking for as an entrepreneur, especially a Silicon Valley venture-backed entrepreneur, are discontinuities in the marketplace to build a very big company. So we realized if every company goes in this direction and every industry goes in this direction and becomes a subscription service, they're all going to need a whole set of systems. We built it ourselves at Salesforce and we never liked it and it never did what we wanted. We always wanted to buy from somebody else. So we put one plus one together and said that this is a big opportunity. It's something we're dedicating our lives to -- trying to build a big, big company.