Born in 1957, Keith Krach studied Industrial Engineering at Purdue University and an MBA in Harvard. At General Motors he managed the Robots Division, leaving to launch a successful start-up. Following that, he took a period of time to spend with his family starting in 2001 and to dedicate to charitable initiatives. He became CEO of DocuSign in 2011.
Author: Anja Steinbuch Photos: Matthew Busch/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Today, a mere three years later, his latest tech business, DocuSign, is again estimated to be worth 3 billion dollars. He took the business world by storm with his cloud solution for secure digital signatures and automated business processes. 50 million people in 188 countries already sign their business transactions virtually with DocuSign.
Robotics and digitization pioneer
So it is not altogether surprising that consultants Ernst & Young crowned Keith Krach their “Cloud Service Entrepreneur 2015”. For the second time. The tall American already won the award in 2000. “Keith is a world class entrepreneur,” stated Mary Meeker, KPCB Partner & DocuSign Board Member, outlining the reasons for his second victory. “He‘s a pioneer in the fields of robotics, e-commerce and the digitization of business,“ she continued. “Brilliance, dedication, creativity and energy,” these are the attributes that colleagues used to describe him.
In Silicon Valley, the father of five who today lives in San Francisco is now part of the legendary network of Silicon Valley icons. Never seen without a jacket and tie, he certainly doesn’t belong to the tech crowd of nerds who work from their bedrooms. Krach radiates a natural authority. When he talks, people automatically listen. At the age of 26 he was the youngest Vice President at US car maker General Motors, but then he wanted to go his own way. He swapped his management career in the 1980s for an uncertain future as an entrepreneur. “Everybody thought I was crazy,” Krach remembers. Today he is regarded as a trailblazer in the automation and digitization of business processes. He founded his first start-up, Rasna Corporation, at the end of the 1980s. His idea of integrating computer-based designs into automated processes was revolutionary at the time. The young entrepreneur was one of the first to network and automate industrial processes using robots. In the 1990s, Krach sold the software company – cue “Goldfinger” – for 500 million dollars and set up Ariba. Once again with a revolutionary idea: the automation of management processes. He would continue in the same vein when he took over the start-up DocuSign in 2011.
Today, the Purdue and Harvard graduate is mentioned in the same breath as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. He has worked with Craig Federighi who is responsible for software development at Apple, Jim Steele and David Rudnitsky – both co-founders of Salesforce and current managers at Insidesales. John Chambers and Peter Solvik, for many years the CEO/CIO double act at Cisco Systems, were also among Krach’s influential companions in arms. Some network.
Digital transaction management platform
In the 90s he was the first man to develop secure technology to pro- cess contracts, documents and all professional transactions online, and today he is now passing on his expertise in industrial engineering to younger successors. “That is the principle of Silicon Valley. The legendary entrepreneurs support the young wild things,” Krach explains. For his own business, the subject of security is the number one priority: “After all, our customers are entrusting us with their most valuable and crucial documents.” With this in mind, DocuSign was founded in the cloud before cloud computing was the widely popular, automatic approach it is today. He used the experience he had gained with Ariba in the digitization of business processes from the supply chain to delivery. A digital business transactions platform was created: Digital Transaction Management (DTM). The portal enables any company of any size and in any sector to securely sign, send and save online business transactions in a legally enforceable procedure from any location on earth. “An enormous relief for all companies,” Krach assures.
His recipe for success, “simply to make everybody a customer,” is working. The principle of DocuSign is straightforward: The higher the level of digitization in business, the more companies will also need digital business processes. “We measure our success by the success of our customers. That is why we don’t look at the number of orders we receive but at the number of successful digital transactions conducted by our customers.” And so the success rolls on, explains Krach. “The more business our customers generate via the DocuSign Global Trust Network, the more satisfied and loyal they become. And because deals can be sealed faster and more securely with DocuSign, the financial success of our customers takes off at the same time.”
What began auspiciously with customers such as T-Mobile US, UBS, Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank, picked up pace significantly last year. As Krach puts it: “In 2014 we recorded more successful business transactions than in our entire previous company history.”
New business partners such as Xerox and T-Systems contributed to further growth. “We estimate that by the end of this decade, every successful company will be fully digital,” says Krach, outlining his conviction. DocuSign‘s Digital Transaction Management platform saves time and therefore also money. There is no longer any need to print out documents, fax them, scan them or send them. Sources of errors caused by analog data entry are also eliminated. And there is one further advantage: namely that compliance requirements can be easily met with the aid of DocuSign because every step is automatically documented and can be legally proved. Along the way, anti-corruption measures can be enhanced and risks minimized. To this can be added the convenience offered by DocuSign of being able to conclude deals anytime, anywhere and on any device. T-Mobile US uses DocuSign in its stores and online in order to speed up the contract signing process. To ensure the security of its customers, DocuSign has installed an integrated monitoring system with leading security technology in all areas, and its service is available in 43 languages and almost 200 countries. More than 100,000 companies are already using the network worldwide. Strategic investors include SAP, Microsoft, Google, Salesforce, Visa and Deutsche Telekom. Krach is especially pleased at the work being done with his “German partners”: “We want to expand our network to include mid-sized companies and large businesses in Germany.”
11 years unmatched experience of the cloud: Since 2005, when Dynamic Services for SAP first launched, T-Systems has been responsible for transformation to the cloud for more than 250 companies worldwide.
Whether in agricultural production processes, fleet management in logistics or for predictive analytics as for machine manufacturer Dürkopp-Adler – in the age of Industry 4.0 real-time information is becoming a competitive factor.