By Jim Kaskade
Conversica has gone through some big changes over the past 12 months. I joined as the new CEO last Fall, we launched a new Intelligent Virtual Assistant for fundraisers, achieved profitability in Q2 2020, and secured $20 million in Series D funding. These changes, and others, show that it’s possible to make great strides even in tough times.
Well, the year isn’t over and neither are our announcements. We are proud to announce two new executive appointments to the Conversica team. I want to welcome Peter Maloney, our new Chief Financial Officer (CFO), and Mark Jancola, our new Chief Technology Officer (CFO) and Vice President of Engineering.
These two gentlemen are exciting new additions to the company – each bringing their own super powers that will help us build the world’s largest augmented workforce.
Peter Maloney has twice served as a Chief Financial Officer for companies that went public. Coming to us after five years at Jobvite, his most recent work involved a transition of the company into the portfolio of K1, a PE fund similar to Kennet and PSG. Jobvite is a SaaS company that has undergone a transformation from an SMB-focus to a MM/ENT-focus business model, similar to what we are now doing at Conversica.
Before Jobvite, Peter helped E2Open (a cloud-based, on-demand software company for supply chains) go public. Peter later facilitated taking the company private through an acquisition by PE firm, Insight Venture Partners.
Both times, Peter worked closely with private equity investors focused on the balance between top-line growth and profitability. For Peter, the theme of profitably scaling a company is more important than scaling at all costs. Peter’s 31 years of experience in finance also included driving positive change at Arthur Andersen, Dole, Republic Industries, Adaptive Broadband, Keynote, and SNOCAP.
Peter brings to Conversica a lot of experience in managing financial business models to optimize the metrics that really matter for a company and overlay that on the operations for the company. He really believes in doubling down on a company’s strengths and shoring up its weaknesses. This requires digging in to learn the key business drivers, unique advantages and then connecting these to preferred business models.
“Conversica has an incredible head start in Intelligent Automation for revenue-generating teams, and there are more verticals and larger companies that can tremendously benefit from this,” Peter says. “As companies invest more into digital, the market will only become more excited about our capabilities.”
“Conversica offers great technology, a stellar management team, and a winning strategy. Those are all the things I look for in a company,” Peter says. “Conversica is at the head of an emerging market and has the potential to not only meet but exceed market expectations. It’s only a matter of time before we hit the tipping point when our augmented workforce solutions are a part of every enterprise.”
Mark Jancola has taken two companies public. Most recently, Mark worked for Apptio, a provider of SaaS-based Technology Business Management solutions for managing businesses in the IT field. Mark joined Apptio as employee #20 back in 2010 when it was in its early venture-backed growth. He grew his engineering team from just a handful to over 100, leading the engineering team through an IPO in 2016 and then through an acquisition by the leading Private Equity firm, Vista Equity Partners, in 2018 for $1.9 billion.
Prior to Apptio, Mark was a VP of Engineering at Hewlett Packard, responsible for global R&D for its data center automation solutions. He also led engineering at HouseValues, MidStream Technologies, and CISCO.
Mark’s philosophy revolves around the idea that the road of transformation and evolution of the business needs to be more predictable and bite-sized. “Land with the basic product and expand with additional capabilities over time,” Mark says.
He also believes in software-oriented transformations while increasing the overall adaptability of a product to match the needs of different geographies and cultures. The key is a high-quality product that is robust, secure, and (internationally) compliant.
Coming to Conversica, Mark’s goal is to enhance our Intelligent Automation platform so that others can add capabilities, allowing for a developer channel to take advantage of the tech we provide.
“We will continue to build our library of Intelligent Virtual Assistants and skills to go after functional roles in Sales, Marketing, Customer Success, and Financial Services in addition to different verticals and geographies,” Mark says.
Mark’s responsibilities include an overall technical strategy, engineering operations, and championing our core technologies including Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and Natural Language Understanding (NLU). Mark is a big believer in “people power” and wants to foster and develop the engineering culture within and around Conversica. Mark’s plans for Conversica include enhancing its platform and capabilities, encouraging others to create/expand capabilities alongside us, and building a developer channel.
“Fortunately, internal AI architecture is modular in design to be able to incorporate new technologies fairly easily. Our AI algorithms apply across our customer base, we leverage all of our customers to tune our models, meaning every customer gets the benefit of the network,” Mark says. “We are continuing to improve functions and the accuracy of our Intelligent Virtual Assistants.”
Mark believes Converisca is at an exciting point in its journey fueling digital transformation for it’s clients. He is especially interested in further exploration and research into AI to make it even more applicable to solving business problems.
“Conversica’s Intelligent Virtual Assistants for revenue-generating teams are cutting edge. We’ve already successfully solved many tough business problems,” Mark says. “But I think we’re just scratching the surface. And even though we just secured Series D funding, it feels more like we’re just getting started on this fantastic journey.”
Get Ready for Non-Linear Growth
Both Peter and Mark exhibit the kind of energy, experience and philosophy essential for leading companies into a hyper-growth phase of their journey. I am eager to see what our teams can accomplish over the next year! Woot! Hang on…here we go.