Is Space Force a dumb idea? Elon Musk doesn’t think so. He harkens back to when the Air Force was established shortly after World War II and how it was “wildly panned as a ridiculous thing to create” back then. But for much of the world, there is still more of a collective eye roll for President Trump’s Space Force, largely for two reasons 1) the lack of a clear strategy behind it and 2) Trump’s erratic leadership style.
The same is true for companies. You can always find smart, thoughtful people who support even the wildest sounding ideas. But the real test of effective leaders is not their capacity to come up with audacious ideas — rather it is their ability to declare a sound strategy, systematically execute against it, and lead with a steady hand, even when others have doubts.
That is what makes Grovo, one of our portfolio companies, acquisition today by Cornerstone OnDemand (NASDAQ: CSOD), a global leader in cloud-based learning and human capital management software, so noteworthy. It’s a great example of solid strategy together with great leadership and partnership network yielding the best possible outcome for Grovo’s customers, team, and future.
About 18 months ago, Steve Carpenter became Grovo’s new CEO. He knew the company couldn’t reach its potential with just SaaS business-as-usual. He looked carefully at Grovo’s assets and discovered, in developing microlearning for others, Grovo had hundreds of content hours literally on the cutting room floor that it could convert into its own content library. That content could yield different distribution partnerships, deals, and discussions and create entirely new revenue streams. The team also looked at what was most unique in its product offering; it was around the ability to create content in their product, not just view it. So the strategy was made clear: 1) create world-class microlearning content 2) build an engaging product that could be used by customers anywhere, and 3) enable broad distribution partnerships.
He then built the team that could bring that strategy to life: a COO from Marvel, who knew the content business cold; a Chief Learning Officer who could build an ace content team and hundreds of new microlearning modules; new Heads of Sales, Marketing, and Customer Success who leveraged the strategy to deliver on revenue; and a new CTO who let unproductive engineers go, doubled the team productivity, and brute-force upgraded the entire customer base onto a totally new architecture that let customers benefit from newer features faster. All this while the company was contracting and reshaping — getting leaner and fitter.
Grovo’s brand and mission to deliver modern learning that helps employees thrive will continue at its new home with Cornerstone OnDemand. The strategic alignment between the two companies couldn’t be better. Ensuring this outcome has been a major effort on the part of everyone on the entire Grovo team, starting with the founders when they created its original vision.
So today, I want to congratulate the extended Grovo family for delivering against their strategy, never giving up even when things got hard, and ensuring a great future for its customers, employees, and mission. Well done, team! I loved being a part of the journey.