CEO Reflections in Extraordinary Times

On 27th February DocuSign announced their intention to acquire Seal Software, in order to further their ambitions of delivering the first and most comprehensive Agreement Cloud technology. As the CEO of Seal, I was fully involved in the diligence and negotiations, but as DocuSign has been a partner to Seal for nearly two years and a customer for much longer, I have had regular contact with the company ever since I started at Seal 3 years ago. From those first interactions in 2017, I have held the company in the highest regard and was absolutely delighted to work towards the acquisition. I firmly believe Seal has a very bright future as part of DocuSign. Their strategy, execution and of course, wonderful products are super impressive. However, one aspect of the culture which I perhaps hadn’t appreciated as much as I should have is their tenacity and commitment to get the job done. This was clearly demonstrated when they turned on a dime and took their large in-person events virtual two weeks ago.

The week following the announcement I was due to present at the DocuSign Global Kick-Off (GKO) and a day later at their flagship user conference, Momentum in San Francisco. On 28th February the DocuSign leadership made the very difficult and brave decision to make these events virtual, due to the COVID-19 outbreak.  This was one of the first in-person tech conferences to be canceled and transformed into a live virtual event. Over one weekend the events team pivoted the logistics, the content was reorganized, and a TV studio was built in order to change the format from a 1200 in-person event to a multi-thousand online broadcast. I was still invited to be part of the broadcasts for the kick-off and the user conference, and my abiding memory is of how slick and professional it all was. Hard to think that 5 days before they had been planning an in-person event with all the trimmings and switched so dramatically. Seal will be joining a very powerful and dedicated organization.

The acquisition is expected to close sometime in DocuSign’s Q2 and there is a lot of work to be done between now and then on integration planning and the like. But this is no ordinary time as we all know. The COVID-19 outbreak has meant that this process has had to go virtual as well. As a responsible organization, we at Seal had to make our own changes in response to the threat. At the same time as DocuSign was taking their conferences digital, we made the decision to stop unnecessary travel and a week later to close our offices and ask our employees to work from home. As a tech start-up with a very agile and mobile workforce, the concept of homeworking is not that alien to most of our staff and we are adapting very well. My leadership team and I are closely monitoring the situation and figuring out the most effective ways to lead and communicate during this period.  I am personally loving the video feature of our collaboration technology!

We realize that not all employees have the same home situation, and for some, dealing with children being off school, a partner perhaps also homeworking and other aspects of home life can present significant challenges. We are doing what we can to help and be flexible so that our employees can keep on building, selling and supporting our market-leading products. I believe the resilience I saw at DocuSign that conference week is something Seal has in abundance too, and our employees are rising to the situation.

In recent days a large number of our customers have reached out to us to ask for our help with their new contract analytics challenges.  Unsurprisingly businesses are keen to understand the obligations and risks associated with their supply chains and customer contracts in light of the pandemic. Do their contracts have language relating to pandemics, epidemics or health issues? Are there force majeure clauses and what are the terms associated? Is there language relating to business continuity? Are their termination clauses that can be enacted by either side? These are the sorts of questions that Seal’s analytics software can answer, and our customers are looking to us to step up and help them. Last week we built and trained models to find COVID-19 related language in contracts and these are being offered to our existing customers free of charge and we will endeavor to help them implement these analytics in short order so they can surface this business-critical information.

In the midst of all this, the integration planning continues, and the anticipation is building for our Seal employees who are super excited to soon be a part of one of the success stories of the last decade.

Stay safe and well,

John