Why did you back Zuora, get on the board, and go along for the ride?

Answered by: Jason Pressman, Managing Director

Category: Partnership & Fundraising

Prior to being an investor - I've been at Shasta since we started the firm 14 years ago - I spent five years at WalMart.com which was Wal-Mart's e-commerce company, a separate entity here in Silicon Valley with venture backing. We grew that business from the ground up, from zero to a very large company and then we sold that back to Wal-Mart. They integrated it in but as part of that experience, I was very involved in the back-end of our business, in finance, payment processing, logistics, customer service - basically in charge of operations. I consumed tons of software. We wrote a lot of that software internally. We bought a lot of software. We integrated with legacy systems that Wal-Mart corporate had. And I knew from the personal pain of having finance operations report to me how difficult it is to have payments and finance as a system. It is mission critical. It has to get done. It's got to be bullet-proof. It can't be wrong and it's prone to fraud because everyone's trying to get at your money. So I had that context.

When I left WalMart.com and joined Shasta, we came together and started investing - I do a mix of consumer and enterprise. My partner Ravi and I, who at the time did all of our software investing, saw over and over again the same complexities that Tien talks about at Salesforce. We'd be sitting in a boardroom and you'd hear the story where the head of Sales wants to discount by 10 percent in the middle of the month or some customer wants to add 20 seats to an account in the middle of the month. And you'd always see the V.P. of Engineering in the corner cringing, curling away. And, I'd say, "What's going on?" They'd say two guys klujed that system together a few years ago and they're not sure what it's written in. And every time they touch it, everything breaks. So you saw over and over again that there was this complexity associated with billing for subscriptions that people dramatically underestimated. I saw that firsthand, and together with Ravi we saw that from our board experience with other subscription companies. I also knew it from living it personally. So when I heard about the company and first met Tien, I knew the complexity that was there. When he described the vision for me, I really understood it and just knew I had to be a part of it and ride this huge wave.