Intercom hires a CFO as it ramps toward an IPO

Today Intercom announced that it has hired a chief financial officer (CFO) as it ramps toward an IPO. The unicorn also promoted its COO to the CEO role earlier this year.

The company’s recent CEO, Karen Peacock, told TechCrunch that her new CFO Dan Griggs was a strong candidate thanks to his experience helping take Rocket Fuel public, and for helping execute a “whole business transformation” at Sitecore, where he worked immediately before coming to Intercom.

Intercom is a software startup that sells customer-chat software that works with support and marketing teams. Different tiers of its service allow for automated “conversational” campaigns, and custom bots. The company has raised a hair over $240 million, according to PitchBook data.

Griggs told TechCrunch that he was not in the market for a new role, but conversations with Peacock drew him in.

Peacock took over the CEO role after around three years as the company’s COO, during which time it became known that the preceding CEO had made “unwanted advances” on employees. Intercom also underwent layoffs before Peacock took over the helm. According to reporting, the firm cut around 6% of its staff in May, a time when many tech companies were trimming personnel due to market uncertainties surrounding COVID-19 and its economic disruptions. (Update: Following publication, Intercom stressed that co-founder Eoghan McCabe earned support from its board after an investigation into the allegations in 2019. During a call, the company also emphasized that an external party had executed the investigation.)

Now Intercom has a refreshed C-suite, and is at IPO scale.

According to TechCrunch reporting at the time Peacock took over as CEO, Intercom had around $150 million in annual recurring revenue (ARR). The company clarified to TechCrunch that the ARR milestone was reached at the end of its last fiscal year, or the conclusion of January of 2020.

Dan Griggs, via the company.

Intercom, Griggs said, is near profitability and is growing in the “strong” double digits. We read that as meaning between 50% and 99% growth, implying the company could close its current fiscal year (January 2021) with $225 million to $298.5 million in ARR, with a bias — thanks to the laws of large numbers — toward the smaller figure.

With a CFO with IPO experience on hand, a new CEO, a material revenue base and good growth, when is the IPO? Not soon, sadly. The CFO said his company doesn’t need to raise new capital, and that it has enough liquidity today to invest. That’s financial-speak for “no rush.”

The CEO is on the same page, saying during the same call that Intercom is not in a hurry to go public, and wants to build out some internal infrastructure before executing the transaction. There won’t be an IPO for at least 12 months, she estimated.1 (Update: Intercom reached out after publication to clarify that the timeline discussed in our call was imprecise. The IPO is at least two years away.)

Intercom hit some market chop in 2020 and had to spend parts of the last year or so cleaning up internal issues. Now, in theory, it has sorted house, and is operating in a market that has greatly rewarded software startups in recent quarters, especially those helping other companies operate digitally.

Let’s see how fast Intercom can grow. We’ll get the full retrospective with its eventual S-1.

  1. Alas.


Intercom announces the promotion of Karen Peacock to CEO

Three years ago almost to the day, Intercom announced that it was bringing former Intuit exec Karen Peacock on board as COO. Today, she got promoted to CEO, effective July 1. Current CEO and company co-founder Eoghan McCabe will become Chairman.

As it turns out, these moves aren’t a coincidence. McCabe had been actively thinking about a succession plan when he hired Peacock. “When I first started talking to Eoghan three years ago, he shared with me that his vision was to hire someone as COO, who could then become the CEO at the right time and he could transition into the chairman role,” Peacock told TechCrunch .

She said while the idea was always there, they didn’t feel the need to rush the process. “We were just looking for whatever the right time was, and it wasn’t something we were expected to do in the first year or two. And now is really the right time to transition with all of the momentum that we’re seeing in the market,” she said.

She said as McCabe makes the transition away from running the company he helped found, he will still be around, and they will continue working together on things like product and marketing strategy, but Peacock brings a pedigree of her own to the new role.

Not only has she been in charge of commercial aspects of the Intercom business for the past three years, prior to that she was SVP at Intuit where she ran small business products that included QuickBooks, and grew it from a $500 million business to a hefty $2.5 billion during her tenure.

McCabe says that experience was one of the reasons he spent six months trying to convince Peacock to become COO at Intercom in 2017. “It’s really hard to find a leader that’s as well rounded, and as unique as Karen is. You know she doesn’t actually fit your typical very experienced operator,” he said. He points to her deep product background, calling her a “product nerd,” and her undergraduate degree in applied mathematics from Harvard as examples.

In spite of the pandemic, she’s taking over a company that’s still managing to grow. The company’s business messenger products, which enable companies to chat with customers online, have become increasingly important during the pandemic with many brick-and-mortar businesses shut down and the majority of business is being conducted digitally.

“Our overall revenue is $150 million in annual recurring revenue, and a supporting data point to what we were just talking about is that our new business to up market customers through our sales teams has doubled year over year. So we’re really seeing some quite nice acceleration there,” she said.

Peacock says she wants to continue building the company and using her role to build a diverse and inclusive culture. “I believe that [diversity and inclusion] is not one person’s job, it’s all of our jobs, but we have one person who’s the center post of that (a head of D&I). And then we work with outside consulting firms as well to just try and stay in a place where we understand all of what’s possible and what we can do in the world.”

She adds, “I will say that we need to make more progress on diversity and inclusion. I wouldn’t step back and pat ourselves on the back and say we’ve done this perfectly. There’s a lot more that we need to do, and it’s one of the things that I’m very excited to tackle as CEO.”

According to a February Wall Street Journal article, less than 6% of women hold CEO jobs in the U.S. Peacock certainly sees this and wants to continue to mentor women as she takes over at Intercom. “It is something that I’m very passionate about. I do speak to various different groups of up and coming women leaders, and I mentor a group of women outside of Intercom,” she said. She also sits on the board at Dropbox with other women leaders like Condoleezza Rice and Meg Whitman.

Peacock says that taking over during a pandemic makes it interesting, and instead of visiting the company’s offices, she’ll be doing a lot of video conferences. But neither is she coming in cold to the company having to ramp up on the business side of things, while getting to know everyone.

“I feel very fortunate to have been with Intercom for three years, and so I know all the people and they all know me. And so I think it’s a lot easier to do that virtually than if you’re meeting people for the very first time. Similarly, I also know the business very well, and so it’s not like I’m trying to both ramp up on the business and deal with a pandemic,” she said.


Intercom lands former Intuit exec Karen Peacock as its new COO

Karen Peacock, COO at Intercom Intercom, a business messaging tool that enables companies to communicate directly with customers in an online context, announced today that it has hired former Intuit SVP Karen Peacock as company COO.
She joined the company May 30th, but they are making the news public for the first time today.
Peacock comes with an impressive resume that starts with a BA from Harvard and an MBA from Stanford. Read More

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