It’s not every day you get to sit down with the braintrust behind ChannelAdvisor, but today on the blog, we’re publishing our Q&A with David Spitz, formerly ChannelAdvisor COO and President and now CEO, and Scot Wingo, formerly ChannelAdvisor CEO and now Executive Chairman. David and Scot sat down with us to fill us in on their new roles, just what exactly an executive chairman does, and what this change means for ChannelAdvisor.
So what brought about this change?
David: Well, Scot and I have been discussing this for a while — the past few years have been a whirlwind with the IPO, the acquisition of our Where to Buy solution, expanding our presence in China and more. We’re working hard to make decisions that best benefit our customers in the long run, but sometimes the day-to-day can get in the way of time that Scot would prefer to spend thinking about the bigger picture. By taking on the CEO role, we’ll free up Scot to do what he loves and frankly, what he does better than anyone: studying the industry, uncovering trends and helping drive the strategic direction of ChannelAdvisor. ChannelAdvisor exists and has thrived because Scot is such an intelligent, forward thinker, and this role will free him up to do even more of that.
Scot, let’s hear your take.
Scot: Sure. David touched on this briefly, but I’ll expand on our focus on customers. We’ve launched a big internal initiative this year to improve the customer experience as it stands today, but we’re also anticipating customers’ needs down the road. Things they may not even realize they need. By David taking the helm of ChannelAdvisor, he’ll be in the position to make decisions with customers’ best interests in mind, and I’ll have more time to think about what e-commerce looks like 1, 5, 10 years down the road and how ChannelAdvisor can be in front of changes and our customers’ future needs.
How will you two work together?
Scot: Think of it like a sports team. David has been the assistant coach for the past 9 years and now he’s taking over as head coach. And I’m moving up to general manager. David will be on the field, calling the shots, and I’ll weigh in as needed. I feel great about leaving the team in David’s capable hands.
David, you’ve been with ChannelAdvisor for 9 years in various different roles. Tell us a bit about this path that has led you to the CEO position.
David: It’s been a winding path! In 2006 I started as a consultant for ChannelAdvisor then quickly got the e-commerce bug and dove in. Over the years I’ve managed just about every department at ChannelAdvisor: finance, HR, customer service, business development, product management, sales, marketing and engineering. Managing areas that are outside of my normal wheelhouse required a crash course in understanding parts of our business on a whole new level. This also forced me to rely heavily on our internal leadership–and I think we’ve accumulated an extremely talented group of managers and employees. While it’s been a whirlwind 9 years, I wouldn’t change anything since working with each of these departments has given me the holistic view of our business and understanding that I’ll use to drive my daily decisions.
Scot, what exactly is an executive chairman?
Scot: When I made the decision to step out of the CEO role, I did a lot of research around what the best next step would be for me. Executive chairman (EC) is one of those newer titles and is basically a role that allows a founder and ex-CEO to stay involved in the business. Examples of other ECs are Eric Schmidt at Google, Jack Ma at Alibaba, John Chambers at Cisco. I mention these not because I have delusions of grandeur that we are Google, Alibaba or Cisco, but to illustrate that this is not an unusual path for a founder+ex-ceo to take. Since it’s a newer role, most of these ECs are bending the role to best serve their companies and best match their personalities, so I plan to do the same.
What are your goals for the position?
Scot: I’m only about a week in, so I reserve my right to change things, but right now I have 4 major job tasks in mind:
- Keep up with e-commerce trends and strategize
- Act as a sounding board and support system for David
- Work on special projects
- Serve as leader of the board – providing active input on the strategy of ChannelAdvisor
Why are there reports that you’ve “resigned”?
Scot: We’re a public company, so for regulatory reasons I resigned in order for David to be CEO, and in order for me to take on the executive chairman role.
Glad to hear you’re not going anywhere.
Scot: Nope. Kit [Scot’s dog] and I will still be in the office regularly, chasing tennis balls and trying to find food scraps — well, Kit that is.
David, any immediate goals for the company?
David: I’ve got some big shoes to fill, but in the near term I’ll be continuing to focus on making ChannelAdvisor profitable while continuing to grow globally. It’s something that Scot and I have been strategizing about for some time. Part of the plan here is to focus on larger brands and retailers. When you consider the benefits of the ChannelAdvisor solution, we’re best suited for larger customers, and we find these customers to have the highest retention rates and, ultimately, the most profitable lifetime value for us. So it’s a win-win and a strategy that I believe will move us to profitability.
Otherwise we’ll stay the course that has guided ChannelAdvisor since its inception — helping connect online sellers to as many sources of demand as possible worldwide — through the addition of new marketplaces, the expansion of our digital marketing support and the product innovations that best serve our customers.
David, the ChannelAdvisor office is known for its ever-growing collection of Star Wars memorabilia. Will you be adding any collections?
David: I do like to go fly-fishing in my spare time…but I don’t know if my fishing trophies would mesh well with the Star Wars theme — though I’m sure my wife would love to see them out of the house! In all seriousness, the Star Wars theme has been with us since Scot founded the company and we’re not going to change it now.
Any closing remarks?
Scot: I’d like to thank our customers, partners, and everyone from the ChannelAdvisor team for a great 14 years as CEO. I’m really excited about continuing to work with everyone in my new role.
David: I’m humbled, honored and thrilled to be taking the helm of ChannelAdvisor. We have over 600 talented professionals that wake up every day thinking about how to make our thousands of customers successful in their e-commerce endeavors. The dedication of those employees has made ChannelAdvisor what it is today, and it’s what will take us forward. ChannelAdvisor is committed to long-term customer success, and I look forward to overseeing that success as CEO.
Ok, so who’s running this company since you’re both here talking to me?
Scot: She’s not reliable. We better get back to work.