At last, DocuSign finds itself a new CEO

Normally CEO transitions are smooth events carried out away from the public gaze. Not so in the case of DocuSign.

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Back in 2011, DocuSign replaced its founding CEO, Steve King (who himself had replaced founding CEO, Tom Gonser only 18 months previously), with high-profile Silicon Valley veteran Keith Krach. Krach is a well-regarded operator and kicked DocuSign’s business into gear, raising well over $500 million and being valued highly enough to create several unicorns. But Krach, who is chairman and CEO, didn't want to stay in the role forever and back at the end of 2015, he signaled to staff that he wanted to step back from the CEO role and that the board was aggressively searching for a replacement CEO.

That search, however, was a difficult process. Scuttlebutt suggests that DocuSign was all ready to sign up one candidate, Rick Osterloh, who was poached, at the last minute, by Google's business unit for all the most ambitious projects, Alphabet. It was pack to the drawing board for DocuSign, which had to balance the uncertainty of the situation with the desire to find the right person.

All this time, rumors suggest that the board of DocuSign was putting pressure on the business to IPO or sell and, despite Krach's assertion that he wasn't in a rush to do anything, some kind of resolution was needed.

All that is (hopefully) behind the company now with an announcement today that Daniel Springer is taking on the top job and that Krach will continue in his chairman role. If the Springer name rings a bell, that is because he was Chairman and CEO at Responsys for 10 years where he took the business from small startup to publicly listed behemoth. Thereafter he was there to ease the transition from Nasdaq-listed company to Oracle-owned business unit.

Of things corporate development, Springer certainly is no slouch. Somewhat gilding the lily in an obtuse reference to the long and drawn out process, Krach pours praise upon Springer.

"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," he said. "Dan brings an exceptional track record of executive leadership, along with deep SaaS expertise and public company experience. As we pursue one of the largest strategic markets in the cloud today, we must continue to sprint this marathon, and I could not be passing the baton to a better person and leader than Dan."

Further pointing to the corporate development experience Springer has, it is worth nothing that he serves or has served as a board member at both public and private companies, including iCIMS, Ansira, YuMe, ELOAN (Banco Popular), Heighten, Persado and eGroups (Yahoo!), as well as at nonprofits, including YearUp, The Urban School, Shop.org, AdTech, The Randall Museum and The San Francisco Friends School.

DocuSign is a well established company and Springer has little to do in terms of product, partnership or placement, the usual tasks of an early-stage leader. What he does have to do, however, is to shepherd DocuSign into the next stage of its life -- to continue the growth, keep the investors happy and, before too long, find a resolution to the "IPO or trade sale" conversation. Watch this space.

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