Peter Bauer on Founding Principles vs Scaling Principles

This is a talk from BoS USA 2012 about some of the big challenges founders face when their ideas take off. Not the challenges of growth that people usually discuss – hiring, operations etc – but the challenges that growth bring to your own personal identity, your values and principles and those of your company. Can the principles you have when you set your company up with a few friends survive in a business of a few hundred people?

Find Peter’s talk video, summary, transcript, and more from Peter below.

Find out more about BoS

Get details about our next conference, subscribe to our newsletter, and watch more of the great BoS Talks you hear so much about.


Learn how great SaaS & software companies are run

We produce exceptional conferences & content that will help you build better products & companies.

Join our friendly list for event updates, ideas & inspiration.

Unsubscribe any time. We will never sell your email address. It is yours.


Peter Bauer is the founder and CEO of Mimecast, a cloud-based enterprise email management system. Mimecast was founded over ten years ago and like most companies, it took a while for them to find ‘the thing’. They have grown into a successful company on any measure over that time – offices all over the world, 6,000 paying enterprise customers, 350 employees, $70 million revenue, happy customers… The week before Business of Software Conference, Mimecast announced a $62 million funding round to accelerate the growth of the business. ‘Big’ funding rounds for companies get people talking about companies and in the enterprise software space, big funding rounds are often the first time that people hear about companies and this can give the impression that their ‘success’ has been ‘meteoric’.

This was no overnight success though and Peter is a very thoughtful individual. He says himself that Mimecast is a triumph of endurance rather than brilliance. He is also very clear, (like Joel Spolsky when he discussed the reasons that he took venture funding for Stack Exchange), that he does not want to take funding at the expense of losing control.

In this talk, Peter discusses his entrepreneurial journey and the principles that he and his co-founders have tried to apply to the growth, development and scale of their business. It is a remarkable talk in many ways as much for the openness about the stresses and fears that he feels as an entrepreneur, husband, father and human being and the challenges and fears that ‘success’ brings on the relationships that he cares most deeply about.

“I can very clearly remember my wife saying to me in 2003, Peter what happens if this thing gets really big and expands globally and you’re spread all over the world. How are we ever going to see you? You’re going to be at work all the time. You’re so sucked into this thing now, imagine how it would be if this went on for years and went global. Whoops.

“For a long time I felt like I was compelled to choose between impending family failure or long term business failure.”

Not enough entrepreneurs talk openly about the challenges of entrepreneurship and the non-sustainability of startup life. Not enough are as open about their fears when they work with investors.

Mimecast principles:

  • Build something together with friends.
  • Do things on our own terms.
  • Never let an investor assert their agenda over the agenda of the business.
  • Intent is the ultimate multiplier.



Peter Bauer: Hi everyone, fabulous to be here. Just a question? Has anyone here actually eaten more than 10 marshmallows during the game. No? They’re really delicious. So I’ve negotiated with Mark and I’ve secured two additional packets so for the two best questions asked at the end of the session. It’s a packet of marshmallows. Let’s work this thing out.

So when I spoke with Mark about this talk in the beginning I considered that perhaps founding principles and scaling principles were two separate things, but, the more I thought about it, the more it occurred to me that at Mimecast our founding principles, in many ways, have been our scaling principles and while many things have changed that have defined our daily activities over the past years, there’s been a core thread of principles and values that have provided significant scaffolding that have enabled us to show endurance and to grow with minimal setbacks. So I’m not entirely sure whether our story is unique or whether the lessons that we’ve learned are transferable but I thought I’d share some of what we’ve learned and some of the things we’ve tried and experienced and they might be useful to you. But I think it is very much a journey for us and I don’t really have any idea as to whether we are in the middle of that journey or at the beginning or at the end but it’s very much a work in progress, and so what I want to share with you is where we are at and what we’ve seen without necessarily knowing the height of the summit that exists beyond the next.

Initially, Mark had actually said that I could speak for half a day, but as he was more and more successful signing on significantly better speakers than me he systematically cut back the time that I had available so I only have 45 minutes. So I’ve chosen 4 things that have been important to me personally and have been both founding and scaling principles of significance for Mimecast and hopefully there’s some time for some questions and some marshmallow winnings at the end.

So the 4 founding and scaling principles that I’d like to talk about, firstly building something with friends. Secondly, dealing constructively with my own fears about the implications of success. Third, never allowing an investor that would change the chemistry of our business. And fourthly, the power and value of clear intent and the logistics that goes behind that.

So I’ll talk through each of these individually and hopefully bring them to life with some stories and maybe you can relate to them as well.

So we started Mimecast in 2003, really with a vision of how cloud computing, although it wasn’t named that at the time, would create opportunities for new companies as client serve architecture became legacy and most of all software needed to be rewritten over time for the next generation. And we at Mimecast, it was our founding team, looked at business information management and email infrastructure as two important pieces and so our opportunity at the intersection between those two evolving assets and so the past almost 10 years now we’ve worked hard everyday to build a business that is shaped around that vision for the space.

I guess ours would be probably be quite the remarkable story except for the fact that it’s taken 10 years. So what’s interesting is that we’ve been able to bring most of our core management team that helped found and develop the business along for the journey as well. So perhaps it’s more as a story of endurance than a story of any brilliance. I think that really great companies require both, and we’ve continued to work on the brilliance part. But I think what’s enabled us to be an endurance player has been some decisions and some principles that we have followed, many of them far more observable in hindsight than part of any particularly clever planning or foresight.

As Mark mentioned, last week we announced a 62 million dollar investment. [laughter] That’s actually a clip from the internal video we did for our staff to announce it, which will never be seen by the public or our investor. [laughter]

This investment came from inside venture partners and some of our existing investors. And what this will do for us is that it will support our growth now from 6000 customers hopefully to beyond 20,000. It will help us grow from where we today of about 350 people to more than double that size. It will help us move from about 1.6 million paying business subscribers today to well over 5 million. And grow our annual reoccurring revenue base from about 70 million dollars today into the hundreds of millions of dollars. It will also help us launch exciting new products and it will support our expansion into more international markets. Today we are in North America, the UK, South Africa and we have a small office in Australia as well. But this investment will also test us like we’ve never been tested before, and it will certainly draw fearsome competition towards us. Hey, it may even start some rumors. And it may make some people scared of what we might become. But I think what’s exciting for me is that, despite this investment, it still leaves us as a management team in a position to be in control of our own destiny and to work according to our own principles and on our own terms. And it gives us the opportunity to compete together at the next level. Now as a founder, as an entrepreneur, and as a CEO this is a big part of why I come to work and a big part of why many of our top people come to work as well. Because we all love, as entrepreneurs, the opportunity to wake up in the morning and know that our teams are working on our own terms and following our own passions. And we’re working with people that we choose to work with and with people that we enjoy building something together with. And that is why the first founding and scaling principle of Mimecast is building something together with friends.

Now long before I started Mimecast, I was sitting with a bunch of friends of mine, this was New Years 2001, as a young 28 year old in South Africa and I was thinking about what the next phase in my life would bring and a remarkable idea came to me and it might have had something to do with a bottle of absinthe that was being passed around at the time. But it felt really inspired and so I blurted it out. And I said, Hey guys why don’t we start a business together and then we can work together as friends to which everyone said Waheeeey, and then carried on drinking. But when I woke up the next morning, somewhat groggy, and I think most of my friends had forgotten about that conversation, that idea still stuck with me. And I thought actually it would be pretty cool to do just that, to build a business with friends. And so over a year later, Mimecast was born. And it was born with another person I’d become friends with, my cofounder Neil Murray, in another country, the UK, and based on ideas that hadn’t been formed at the time and certainly had nothing to do with the Absinthe incident, but was very much in the same spirit. And I really like to remind our staff today of the story and I think it has a positive impact because I’m also very honored that most of the friends that were there at that New Years eve in 2001 now actually work for the company or are involved in some way. And many other friends have joined and many people who have joined our company have had friends of theirs join the company. And so we’re a company where people treat each other like friends. But they are also actually are friends and Mimecasters generally really like spending time together. These guys are actually just animals but that’s what an inside sales team looks like when you send them white water rafting for making some numbers.

I think that the spirit really extends beyond the company and I think we pass this on to our customers and to our partners and to our suppliers as well so it’s a very important aspect. Now this doesn’t mean that it’s a picnic. This is a company that is deadly serious about success, and we’re deadly serious about each others success too. And the enjoyment of building something together as friends transcends this and it is actually a very worth while way to spend our time.

So I don’t know if you’ve ever built a sandcastle or if you’re North American maybe a snowman or something with your kids or friends on a beach. It’s actually quite a wonderful experience when you get into it. There’s an energy flowing and there’s a creativity and a cooperation and also a competition for ideas at times too. And building Mimecast at many times feels like that and that’s when it’s the most meaningful and the most exhilarating experience. And it’s the experience of building something together that is much more of a reward than the satisfaction of looking at the completed work. It’s also obvious when you’re doing this who the contributors are and anyone who is not working is easily spotted so everyone must be fully present and engaged when the energy is flowing like that. So at Mimecast we’ve ended up with a culture of friendship. Not necessarily because we wanted a specific culture or that we thought it was a smart way of scaling the business. Maybe if your friends are really daft, it’s not a good way to scale a business. But because in and of it self it felt like a good thing to do, a great way to live, and a great way to do anything really. And to start and build a business with friends was one of the key reasons for why our company was created at all. And so this tone has been set for how we work together and it was done from day one. And it really informs our hiring and firing, our promoting and our team structuring. We always ask ourselves can and will this person act and work with all of us like a friend.

Building a business with friends, or building a business where people can work together as friends, requires people with confidence, and fear can undermine confidence. Fear can really undermine your ability to work with and attract friends. So let me talk a little bit about one of my fears as the next founding and scaling principle, and its not necessarily such an obvious fear. I’ve had to learn to deal constructively with my own fears about the implications of success. From the time we started Mimecast, obviously the fear and the excitement of it growing bigger surrounded me, but the fear of it not succeeding is much more present early on. And that is, as im sure many of you can appreciate a startup business, is a pretty fragile thing. But in my experience it was my fear of success that could be far more restrictive on the much longer road that lay ahead and understanding what that fear was all about and addressing some of the often very scary implications of success has been something that has been quite important to me on my journey. And actually there are quite a few prompts around you that can remind you of your fears of success.

I can very clearly remember my wife saying to me in 2003, Peter what happens if this thing gets really big and expands globally and you’re spread all over the world. How are we ever going to see you? You’re going to be at work all the time. You’re so sucked into this thing now, imagine how it would be if this went on for years and went global. Whoops. So the reality was living in the UK was not great for my wife and I figured out after exactly 13 years of marriage, that she might in fact be solar powered. [laughter] And naturally being married to an entrepreneur who lived in London several days a week while she raised our three kids a little bit further out of town was by no means easy. And so the fear of missing out on your family, perhaps letting them down, not being there at many important moments, and the guilt of prioritizing your work over things that you know are far more important to people that are very precious to you, this has for me been one of the biggest challenges in being prepared to be successful. I obviously really wanted Mimecraft to be successful, but at what price? So for a long time I felt like I was compelled to choose between impending family failure or long term business failure. And I felt I was always just buying some time until something possibly went very wrong.

So under these circumstances, great success is very easy to fear even if you don’t realize it. You start to think that maybe great success really isn’t really the thing for you. And it’s quite easy to think about buckling, buckling in and taking a job somewhere else, choosing a path where it looks like things might get better a lot faster, or at least they didn’t look like it could get any worse in the future. But my co-founder would always say to me, Success brings many options. So I would just reassure myself of that and then we would keep going. And I believed there would always be ways to make things right if we could just get the next piece right, it would become easier. So that’s often how I felt about the possibility of success. But ultimately my co-founder was right. And the business grew to the point where I had the opportunity to relocate my family to the US and establish a much more sustainable working and family life situation.

Learn how great SaaS & software companies are run

We produce exceptional conferences & content that will help you build better products & companies.

Join our friendly list for event updates, ideas & inspiration.

Unsubscribe any time. We will never sell your email address. It is yours.

But maybe from the experience, I’m a little jaded about the startup process or perhaps realistic about it cause I’m reasonably convinced that for the first 3 to 5 years of a startup’s life, it is almost certainly going to be very risky from a personal point of view. I don’t know if there is a way to go from 0 to 60 mph or 600 mph without coming close to burnout and without there being some collateral damage. I don’t know, maybe there are ways to do it. But I wonder, maybe for me, it was harder because we were coming from the outside in, arriving in a new country, being South Africans and newly arrived in London. Entering a market for software as a service that didn’t necessarily fully exist yet. Or trying to do things technologically that hadn’t been done before, using our own money too, initially, building a business while raising a young family at the same time. But it may also be possible that because we were backed into a corner so many times, we actually found more efficient paths to be successful. So I don’t know, it may have been an advantage after all. But there certainly wasn’t a lot inspiration going around that made our early team Colcore, day after day often a very dodgy office accommodation. It was more fear that drove that behavior, fear that if we didn’t dial our way to some opportunities, the whole thing would probably collapse around us. So this early stage was not a time of sustainable effort. My co-founder living with his in-laws for two years, coding in his boxer shorts. His mother in law developed quite a crush on him. It’s really a time of gravity defying heroics, and knowing if you can hold out for long enough, you’ll create something that no one else was prepared to do and that represents your chance to build something more sustainable, but also something elite. And its investing and making it sustainable at the right points that matters and if you don’t have a vision for that you may burn out and your chance to scale could slip away.

I remember one of my non execs saying to me, many times over, It’s all going to change as it grows bigger. It’s not going to be as much fun. It’s going to be more formal. It’s going to be pretty tough, Are you sure you want to do this. And the more he said it to me the more it made me remember my fear of success and actually, in the end, confront it. And eventually I said to him, you know the harder you make this sound the more I feel like I want to do it. and we’ve never discussed it again and I suspect he feels his reverse psychology technique worked and his job is done.

But I think I’ve also heard a lot of conversations over the years over whether a founder can scale. And these conversations, often by people who have never necessarily built a business themselves but have just been armchair execs, would also highlight my fear of what success might bring. If we were successful to a point would this take me outside of my own zone of competency and ultimately result in me being embarrassed as a leader and needing to hand over to someone seemingly more qualified, a real CEO. That’s what they look like, by the way. [laughter] And it really felt for me at the early stages when we were starting, just after the dot com burst, that there was a strong sentiment that founders could not scale. And I felt as a younger guy in my late twenties, early thirties that I kept hearing that investors felt they needed to choose management teams once they’d invested in small companies and find professional people that could scale the company. And it was really reinforced because most of the term sheets I saw, which we turned down, looked like they contemplated the inevitability that founders would become incapable of making major decisions and would need to be significantly supervised and chaperoned once the investment had come in. And when I drilled in on these terms with interested investors, they really would make no secret that they might want to bring in some experienced executives to help scale the business. Some were actually very suspicious of my desire to really control the destiny of the business very tightly with my co-founder. They saw it as risky and self serving. We saw it as our most important obligation.

So I think our desire to work on our own terms, has really forced us to figure out for ourselves what the best way we could scale efficiently was. But it goes beyond the founders as you grow. And I’ve realized that I can’t afford to have a leadership team who themselves fear the terms of our success because they’ve laid out an unsustainable path. So more recently I’ve sought to discourage conversations that go along the line of we could just push like this and get this right till the exit. Or lets ramp this up and we can drive our growth rate and get a good multiple for an IPO. Now these comments sound quite clever and quite germane, even motivational to people that are listening to them, but I don’t like to encourage them. I’d rather want to encourage setting of targets that we can shoot through, not to. That we can think about what comes next. What’s the next battle that lies ahead. I think technology is moving so fast today that you can’t take a short term view. There needs to be long term commitment.

So I’m a huge fan of this book, Great by Choice, written by Jim Collins and, anyone Scandanavian? How do you say that? Phonetically, I suppose. Morten T. Hansen. There you go. Because what this book articulates quite clearly and quite effectively, is how most great victories have rarely been achieved by a discipline of applying a remarkably consist and sustainable format. So if you have an opportunity and your business is looking at long term growth this is a great book to read.

So the third principle that has been important to a megalomaniac like myself to our company is never to allow an investor to change the chemistry or to be able to assert their agenda above that of the company. And for me as a founder and one of the biggest shareholders in the company, I’ve always been adamant and clear that shareholder interests come a very distant second to the interests and the sovereign goals of the company. And the company and it’s stakeholders are a broad community of people including shareholders but also staff and their families, customers, partners, suppliers. But very few investors who are charged with investing other peoples money, could live comfortably with an early stage venture that looked at the worlds like this. These investors typically needed to be able to assert their interests, above all others to be able to manage the risk that they perceive they were taking with the money they were investing. They needed to secure the right to assert their interests above all others, should they need to. So they wanted the right to veto and control major decisions in the company’s future. And frankly I was sitting there thinking, Crikey have you done this with this company before? What would give you the depth of insight to know what is right for this business, for the next quarter, let alone the next 10 years.

So call me a skeptic but I was thinking there is so much still to figure out for any kind of smart person. I felt that were in a situation that because they were holding that checkbook was about to make them right. The last thing I wanted to do was do a deal where by default someone else gets to presume their right and the onus switches back to me to have to persuade them or convince them of the validity of another formula. Cause that’s really not why I chose to start and build a company. And that’s not why a core team of people chose to invest their time creativity, reputations and careers with me. So I felt people had bought into us in a very personal way and not to investors, and so it would be wrong for me to advocate that position of responsibility. It would be wrong allow myself to be muted by some kind of new arrangement.

What do you think of that picture Mark? Are you looking? Are you paying attention?[laughter] Dogs.

So how could I underwrite my obligations as a leader if I allowed someone else who had their own objectives that was separate from our vision to be my source of permission? So for me the orientation of many venture investors was unpalatable even though it was affirming and flattering to have the interest of many of these guys in our company. But they had real obligations to structure their own dealings in a certain way because they were actually investing other people’s money, but that didn’t necessarily mean it was right for me or for my team. We were investing far more than any of these guys were possibly capable of and by right we wanted to control the destiny of our journey. So ultimately we took a longer way around. We worked the streets of London. And we built a network of a few dozen angel investors around the company. And they provided us with, I guess, a form of ongoing patronage. They were a set of trusted relationships with people that supported us in exchange for an opportunity to be part of our story and to make some money, but not to make any decisions.

Now it wasn’t for everyone. Some people turned their noses up at it, but we raised over 10 million dollars in total this way, in several small increments that we called our just in time funding strategy. Each of these angels is now substantially in profit for having supported us and it allowed us really to navigate and to find our path in a very intuitive way and in a very responsible way.

So the money was certainly helpful if not critical in helping us to lay track and place bets on our future. We could hire more engineers, more marketing people and channel partner people, things that weren’t necessarily going to generate revenue right away. But I think the greatest advantage that funding this way around gave us was that by the time we did bring in venture investors, we had proven ourselves as business builders which meant that we could more easily negotiate terms with bigger investors that didn’t effect the chemistry of our company. Because by then we were able to assert the interests of the company above investor interests and be lucky to have them graciously participate in that arrangement and help us grow even bigger.

So the fourth thing I’d like to talk about this afternoon is intent. Clear intent and logistics. We’ll talk about intent first and logistics, the supply chain that delivers the payload of that intent. And I like this quote from General D.D. Eisenhower.

You will not find it difficult to prove that battles, campaigns, or even wars have been won or lost primarily because of logistics.

So my son plays, none of those people are my son by the way, it’s a stock image. My son plays soccer in our local town now. And I remember watching him in the UK when he was much smaller. And it was quite interesting because on match day all the boys would sort of run around on the playing field kicking the ball, chaotically, and by some miracle maybe a goal would be scored but it was much more of a free for all. But watching them now at age 9 it’s quite different because these boys have now got intent. And its actually developed through the season. The coaches told them what to do. He’s pointed out where the goals are. And they’ve had the experience of scoring some goals and now that they’ve done a few they actually get it. And they know that when they’re on the field, that is what they are there to do. They’ve got intent they’ve organized themselves around, and they score quite a lot.

I’ve also spent quite a bit of my time in my life training in karate. Now at competition time you could always see the people that took part because they loved karate. It was an art form. They wanted to participate. They wanted to work on their techniques, make them beautiful. And sparring with them was a wonderful experience, but at competition time, they were flattened. Why? Because when you step on the floor and you’re thinking just one thing, and that is, I’m going to take that person out, that’s what you do. You’re not there because you like to participate or demonstrate your technical prowess. You’re there to do a job, you have intent and that beats most things. You get on with that job and you take them out. I mean, what would frighten you more? The possibility of being confronted by a highly skilled martial artist that might come over there and humiliate you or show you up or some untrained but unfringed lunatic intent on taking you out. He wants to tear your throat out right now. I bet any one of us would be far more frightened by the guy who has real intent because intent creates a power multiplier.

And you can see that in many sports where a team with well orchestrated intent beats everyone. And I’m still amazed today, watching sports and taking part in them and in business, how many people and companies operate entirely without intent. They exist just fumbling along, participating, taking part, exhibiting their potential but actually doing very little with it. Really waiting to be taken up with someone with intent. Now although participating isn’t intent, you absolutely do need to turn up and participate, but you must have a very clear purpose for being there if you want to win. And in truth formulating this intent might actually take some time, but you need to find it when you can. And for us it’s been an interesting journey defining what our intent is as a company at various points. And it’s really worked, unfortunately in the wrong way sometimes.

And listening to Dharmesh talk it was quite interesting when he was talking about the sales led strategy rather than the engineering led strategy. Because for us sales targets became the language of intent at Mimecast. And it gave our sales teams and our sales leaders a power multiplier in our business. These guys were working for the number, and therefore other folks in the business should help them in achieving the number. And over time our business started to tilt towards responding largely towards what the sales team wanted. And this might be a familiar scene for you. Marketing saw itself as there to support sales, to generate leads. Engineering was inclined to listen to sales a lot about what features were needed to win more deals. Financed listened to sales, and the whole business started to gravitate towards responding to the needs and demands of sales because sales had a very focused form of intent in their number. So sales was proactive and the rest of the business became reactive and drawn forward by sales, almost in their slip stream. And it was interesting and frustrating to observe. In the background I was quietly going mad, putting pressure on all sorts of parts of the business, table pounding with marketing to build more pool based assets, campaigning with engineering to do more things that tracked toward our broader vision. But more often than not I actually was ignored and the business followed the intent of the sales organization. And it frustrated me a lot. Took a while to figure it out and to start to fix it. And we got to a point a few years ago where the group functions, the non revenue generating functions were apologetic towards the sales and the trading groups for anything that they were doing or money they were spending. In fact it was a badge of honor for them to under invest in things they were doing to make sure there were resources available for sales. And it really made me feel uneasy because I felt we were not progressing and transforming the business to be able to deal with the bigger challenges and opportunities that tomorrow would bring.We were just sprinting faster and faster and faster, churning out sales results. And it actually looked quite successful. And that substantially weakened my case for making any change.

So systematically we started to talk to the various non sales groups about their own sovereign goals and how to bring their intent into the business. We put product and marketing and systems goals high on the agenda and we gave them sovereignty and helped people understand that these things needed to be invested in if we were to have a future. And we put strategic programs up there and discussed the significant impact that these things could have on us in the long term. Then we had to ensure that these projects had real intent of their own so we created something called AIM factors, actionable intent matrix factors. And what these did is that they forced non quota bearing teams to solidify and declare their intent numerically.

I’ll give you an example. So rather than the engineering group writing some beautiful software, and participating in the business of writing software, wonderful thing, the intent became much clearer, to get a hundred thousand users using product X or feature Y within a certain number of quarters, much more focused. Rather that talk about a social media program and project, and I’ve drawn many diagrams on white boards, SEO initiatives, we define intent in much more specific terms. Intent was defined as a target number of visitors to our website each week and we put numbers to it. And that gave these teams an intent driven focus that could counter balance with sales and their numbers. And it was quite transformational and AIM factors were then built back to look at the smaller items that were needed to make up and deliver back on those bigger items, a pipeline if you like, a logistical supply chain of activities that needed to be committed to and delivered to achieve success of the intent. So if we wanted to build a North American channel program, we’d have to break it down into subtargets and AIM factors, map it all out in a supply chain. So this meant that if something was going wrong, people could see it easily, if we were missing targets they knew, gosh some of the supplies that I needed in the supply line towards this intent were missing and they could fix it automatically without waiting for the whole program to fail and look at the end.

Our engineering team, interestingly, also transformed and they became a product group. They actually renamed themselves. And they were focused on meaningful outcomes in the market place as opposed to just writing code and telling us it was finished. They started to hire new classes of skills to achieve those effective outcomes and gave their developers more responsibility and accountability for the overall success. So this kind of rigorous intent driven planning has really transformed our execution as a company and that’s possibly been one of the biggest shifts from being a small company to being a medium sized company, and particularly important as we spread out largely between three offices.

But I have to stress that all of these metrics and measurement have to be kept in check. Because we don’t measure things for the sake of measuring things. The purpose of having them at all is because they drive us to define and declare our intent and then as a matter of course we track them from there. Because what I’ve also seen in our history is that all too often that its the accounting measures or the sales revenue measures that define for the whole company what success looks like. And it can all get pretty wrongheaded. These measures start shaping the intent of the business and other departments lose their sovereignty. You end up with a CFO in the head of sales really calling the shots on your strategy and the business can lose its grip on vision transforming the future. So I feel fortunate that we spotted some of the stuff early and we had time to deal with it. And that we’ve been able to define a mechanism that supply chain of success that can deliver the payload of our intent. So we’ve really observed it that intent in the playing field, as well as in our business, is a power multiplier and it can really make small things significantly more powerful.

I said at the beginning of the talk that I don’t know whether we’re at the beginning or middle or end of this journey and I’m not sure it matters. So for me I’m assuming that we’re actually still at the beginning because I think that inclines all of us to continue learning much much more. I’ve 8 seconds left for questions. [applause] Thank you.

Mark: Take One quick question, at the back. You’ve got a microphone.

Peter Bauer: Mark if it’s just one question, we know he’s winning the marshmallows.

Mark: Should we give him some spaghetti too?

Audience: Hi. Brian Turchin. So how has your job changed over the years and how do you see it changing in the future?

Peter Bauer: I think a lot of it is actually quite the same. The fundamental role that I have is imagining the future, developing story lines, and being the chief purveyor of belief in the company. Initially I had a way of working with a small group of people that I saw everyday and purveying the belief about the opportunity and drawing the stories out. But as we’ve grown, I don’t get to talk to everybody so its more about creating conduits for that to continue to happen. So making sure that I’ve surrounded myself with people who are either as good, or in some cases better, who can all be CEO representatives, if you like, in the business. So instead of just having 2 hands and one voice, I now have a team of 7 guys in my exco. I now have a team of 16 hands and 8 voices that do this work for me. But actually a lot of it is remarkably similar. The job itself and how I need to approach is the same, but the level of engagement that I get to have with everyone is slightly different.

Mark: Thank you. [applause]

Find out more about BoS

Get details about our next conference, subscribe to our newsletter, and watch more of the great BoS Talks you hear so much about.

Peter Bauer

Peter Bauer

Peter Bauer is the founder and CEO of Mimecast, a cloud-based enterprise email management system.

Mimecast was founded over ten years ago and like most companies, it took a while for them to find ‘the thing’. They have grown into a successful company on any measure over that time – offices all over the world, 6,000 paying enterprise customers, 350 employees, $70 million revenue, happy customers. The week before Business of Software Conference 2012, Mimecast announced a $62 million funding round to accelerate the growth of the business. ‘Big’ funding rounds for companies get people talking about companies and in the enterprise software space, big funding rounds are often the first time that people hear about companies and this can give the impression that their ‘success’ has been ‘meteoric’.

A fully committed and serial entrepreneur, Peter’s studied marketing in South Africa.  He trained as a Microsoft systems engineer and began working with corporate messaging systems before founding his first technology company FAB Technology in the mid-nineties.

Following the successful acquisition of FAB Technology by Idion (which he led as MD), he subsequently to move to the UK where he founded Mimecast. He now spreads his time between London, Boston, San Francisco, Cape Town, Johannesburg and some other suspiciously sunny places in the world where Mimecast has offices.

More From Peter.

Learn how great SaaS & software companies are run

We produce exceptional conferences & content that will help you build better products & companies.

Join our friendly list for event updates, ideas & inspiration.

Unsubscribe any time. We will never sell your email address. It is yours.