What It Takes To Go From Startup To $1B Exit (With Acquia's Lynne Capozzi)

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This is a podcast episode titled, What It Takes To Go From Startup To $1B Exit (With Acquia's Lynne Capozzi) . The summary for this episode is: <p>In 2008, software veteran Lynne Capozzi joined a brand new tech startup called Acquia as its CMO. Fast forward to 2019, and Acquia was bought by Vista Equity Partners for a whopping $1 billion. The Acquia CMO quoted in all the press releases sharing the announcement? Still Lynne Capozzi. On this episode of CMO Conversations, Tricia sits down with Lynne to talk about why she joined Acquia (twice – she left in 2011 to start a nonprofit then boomeranged back in 2016), how to scale marketing at critical growth stages, and how her role has changed over time.</p><p><br></p><p>Like this episode? Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review and share the pod with your friends. You can connect with Tricia and Lynne on Twitter @triciagellman @lcapozzi</p>

Tricia Gellman: Welcome, everybody. You're listening to CMO Conversations. I am your host, Tricia Gellman, the CMO of Drift. We started this podcast series as a way to get in front of CMOs of different sized companies, as a way to talk about the changes and challenges happening in the marketing sphere, especially in leadership. So if you're aspiring to be a CMO and/ or you are a CMO, and you're interested to learn more of where marketing is going, how we're addressing the challenges of being more accountable to revenue, working better across the organization, structuring your teams, all these kinds of topics we cover. And I'm excited to have with me today, Lynne Capozzi, who is the CMO of Acquia. Acquia is the leading cloud platform for building, delivering, and optimizing digital experiences, which of course today, is highly relevant for everyone living in this digital world. And Lynne has run marketing at startups at big companies, she's seen the growth of brands of categories, and she's led tons of change in the marketing world. Something very unique about her is that she has not only worked at multiple companies, different logos, and different sizes, but at Acquia multiple times, so really having that experience of small and now a larger company, all within the same brand. So Lynne, thank you for joining us, and maybe you can just explain to people a little bit of your responsibility as the CMO of Acquia, And then we can talk a little bit about your superpower.

Lynne Capozzi: Sure. Hi, Tricia. Great to be here. Thanks for having me. I am the CMO of Acquia, And so I have responsibility for all aspects of marketing demand gen, our website, which is our biggest lead gen vehicle, field events, and so forth. So every area within marketing globally,

Tricia Gellman: What would you say is your superpower? I think one of the things we've covered in this podcast series is just how different the expectations are for CMOs at different sized companies, but also just in terms of the scope and what's needed at a different time, based on sort of what that brand is trying to achieve. So what do you feel is the superpower that you really bring to your role as a CMO?

Lynne Capozzi: If I think about it in terms of superpower, I've been very fortunate in my career where I've been able to work in all different areas of marketing. So, I had roles in demand generation, in branding, in corporate messaging, in events, in partner marketing, product marketing. I think taking that experience from all the different aspects of marketing has been really important for me as a CMO, and probably the superpower that I use most often is the ability to help organizations with their website redos or website relaunches. And I spend a lot of time on that, I've just done my own website relaunch, and having experience in all different areas of marketing has been super helpful for that.

Tricia Gellman: That's what I was just going to say, it's like a lot of people think a website, oh, that's one tactic within a CMO's sort of sphere of ownership is digital marketing. But really, I think the website is a catalyst for bringing together everyone, because it is your big lead driver, as you already mentioned, it has all your messaging, which hits on your product marketing teams and others. So are there specific roles or people, or even past experiences that you have that you think have helped you sort of become this superpower of website redesign?

Lynne Capozzi: I think as I said, kind of having each area of marketing, I think has been important, because your website really is everything from your messaging, to your branding, to what you're doing for lead gen, or what you're doing potentially for e- commerce. And so, I think just having kind of that experience across the board, it's just been helpful for me. I can always fall back on that experience.

Tricia Gellman: Yeah, for sure. Have you been relaunching websites at companies around new branding? Is that the catalyst? My own career, I feel like that's been the catalyst, like we really need to change the look and feel, or add something into full functionality. For example, I was involved in one redesign where we implemented a different CMS that would give us better personalization. So there was a business goal there, which was personalization. In a lot of cases, especially in startups, it's about rebranding or pivoting to a new category, which I know that you have also done new category creation. So what do you think becomes the biggest catalyst for redoing your website?

Lynne Capozzi: I think there's a couple of them that I see that tends to be most common, definitely around rebranding, so if a company is doing rebranding. If a company is getting acquired or they're merging, merging two companies together, getting acquired by another company, and so therefore you got an acquisition going on, and that requires the new site to represent your new branding. A third area is a new CMO. So most of the time, when a new CMO comes in, they want to say," Okay, I want my version of messaging, and I want to see us expand more in messaging and branding," and so they do that. The other is just a better demand gen vehicle, right? And so, needing to increase, maybe your metrics are poor in terms of what you're doing for demand gen, and conversions and so forth on the site. And that a lot of times will require... And leads to thinking about doing a relaunch. And so typically, those are basically the areas why and when people will do a relaunch.

Tricia Gellman: And maybe we didn't talk about this previously, but I'm just wondering, especially since your solution is helping to power a lot of website redesigns as well, it's kind of a good superpower for you to have given the brand and solutions that you guys sell, is there anything that you've observed in terms of how long people's websites typically last before they need to be replaced?

Lynne Capozzi: So people ask me that all the time and I typically say, if you haven't redone your site in two years, it's most likely time.

Tricia Gellman: That's pretty short.

Lynne Capozzi: Yes. Mm- hmm(affirmative).

Tricia Gellman: But it also potentially unfortunately aligns with the changes and challenges of a CMO.

Lynne Capozzi: Yeah, that's right. I mean, just and think about how quickly the digital world is changing, right? So I think it kind of ties with how quickly marketing and messaging in the world is changing.

Tricia Gellman: Yeah, I think that's something that we're going to get into a little bit later, because I think one of the things that really, I think you've seen and I've seen, is the move to technology as being a key component of the CMO role, understanding your tech stack, figuring out how you use it, staying on top of the latest technology to really accomplish your goals. So we'll jump into that in a couple of minutes. Tell me a little bit about your journey at Acquia. We talked already about how you're a boomerang CMO, but what was it like the first time, and then what has it been like now, and what do you see as sort of challenges in differences?

Lynne Capozzi: Well, I think the first time around when I was at Acquia, I was the CMO, we were earlier on, right? So we were in building phase, I call it, and so we were trying to do everything from building the category, building our messaging, building a demand gen machine, building all the frameworks that we needed, building a new partner program and rolling that out. So we really were in kind of this building phase. I mean, I remember spending a lot of time initially on, when I say building the category and getting into the category, we're an open source software company, and so then the analysts wouldn't even consider us in the CMS or content management system category. We had to not only help define it, but we had to figure out how to help them analyze and figure out why an open source company should even be in the category, because it didn't fit their inaudible model. We don't pay for the software, and so," Oh, we can't get in that box," because we didn't fit that category. So we spent a lot of time kind of helping and working with the analysts to define the category, and then to grow and be a leader within the category, and that was a lot of effort, and then as I said, we were building out demand gen machine. The other thing that we were doing was looking for, it seems like in the earlier days we were doing a lot of pitching to get investment, and so as an exec team, we were spending a lot of time creating the deck, and writing the messaging, and getting the story down, the unified story down between execs, and pitching ourselves to different investors. And so, that was time consuming, but the nice part about that is it gets your team unified together because you're saying the same story and you have the same message, and you know what your goals are as a company, because you have to articulate them in a very concise and concrete way. Those were the things that we worked on early on, but when I came back, and now I been there for about three years or so, I think it's different. I'd put it mostly in the growth category. A lot of the foundational work was done, right? So now I get to see the fruits of our labor from early on while we're leader in the category, right? We're up in the upper right, and whatever inaudible that was. And now we're doing things like, how do we grow the business? How do we grow from 20 to 30% growth every year? How do I do cross- sell and upsell to our existing customers? Because now-

Tricia Gellman: Because now you have customers.

Lynne Capozzi: Yeah, now we have inaudible-

Tricia Gellman: And a significant enough number, yeah. So if we go back to the early phase, I think one thing that's interesting, we've touched on it with different visitors to the podcast, is category creation. And for Drift, for example, we don't have a magic quadrant. So we work with analysts, but the end game isn't to be in the upper right corner, because there isn't an upper right corner for us, but it's still important for us to work with analysts. You're saying that there was a magic quadrant, there was a category, but you weren't being considered into it, and I'm wondering, how long did it take you to kind of move the thought pattern of the analyst community to then widen the category to include you, and then obviously you helped to position yourselves as a leader?

Lynne Capozzi: I would say it took us a good year to 18 months at that time. I mean, I would hope it would be fast.

Tricia Gellman: That's pretty fast.

Lynne Capozzi: Yeah. Yes, but-

Tricia Gellman: I think that's pretty fast. I mean, analysts, aren't known as being the most forefront, fast moving jump through hoops group of people.

Lynne Capozzi: I think it was a repetitive process that we had to do to show our growth. One, we had to show the growth of, as we had more customers and brought more customers on, we would highlight those customers, and the other was the momentum that was happening around open- source itself. So we clearly weren't the only open source vendor, and open- source was becoming a much less risky type of purchase, a much less risky type of adoption for any kind of enterprise. So as open- source popularity grew, we benefited from that, and that helped us in the category.

Tricia Gellman: Yeah. I mean, that's excellent. And I think it always helps, I think one of the things that we've talked about before, but it's like, you can't have a new category if you're the only one in the category. So I think this idea that open- source was growing, it really does help to validate what's happening, because it's not just you that's speaking about it.

Lynne Capozzi: Right, exactly.

Tricia Gellman: Yeah. Now, you did have a time after sort of helping to grow this category, helping to get the company sort of more off the ground, initial funding, where you left. What were you looking to do as a CMO in your other ventures outside of Acquia before you decided and bumped into coming back?

Lynne Capozzi: I loved the company, but left Acquia when I decided to devote myself full- time to running a nonprofit. And so, I met the board at Boston Children's Hospital, which is a volunteer position that I love, and I run my own foundation. So I wanted to devote some more time around that, and more time than my kiddos who were young. And so, I had a chance to go off and do both of those for a while.

Tricia Gellman: That's awesome. Now you're back, how do you manage? It's not like you decided," Oh, I'm going to stop working at Acquia to go do a nonprofit, and then I'm going to come back and I'm going to stop doing nonprofit," you're doing both, which is very demanding. So how do you manage doing both things?

Lynne Capozzi: I know sometimes I feel like I do it really well, and other times I feel like I do a terrible job of trying to juggle both. So I came back into Acquia because I was ready to kind of devote myself full- time again to a CMO type role, and as I say, I fell back in love with the company and kind of came back in. At that time I said," It's still really important for me to do my nonprofit work. My kids are older. I should have a little bit more bandwidth to be able to do that." And so, the luxury of age, I guess, I was able to kind of devote some more time to doing that, and I just keep it as, it's a priority for me. So, I keep my board meeting scheduled. That's a time I don't touch on my calendar. I make sure that I'm doing the legwork that I need to do. And honestly, Trisha, it goes up and down, so there are times when I'll spend a lot of time on my volunteer work and nonprofit work, and there are other times and other months, if I'm in the middle of a launch, or if I'm in the middle of a busy work time, I'll spend less time, but I do try and kind of even that out, and I definitely touch base every once in a while with myself to say," Am I doing enough and can I be doing more, and okay, how do I fit this in?"

Tricia Gellman: Yeah. I mean, I think it's really impressive being a new mom. It's hard to juggle all of these things, and I used to be on the board of the YMCA here in San Francisco and it was really rewarding, but it wasn't me starting my own foundation. And so, I'm wondering, you talked about how your children are at a different phase in their lives. Is the foundation itself also at a different phase, which makes it easier for you to be in the board meetings, but not necessarily have to be as hands- on?

Lynne Capozzi: Yes. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. It's a little bit different phase, and we have our researchers established at the hospital. And so, we are definitely in a different phase after we kind of did our initial growth phase. Mm- hmm(affirmative).

Tricia Gellman: Yeah. I think, I mean, to me, this falls into this category that we're all human and that we have a lot of things that help make us happy. It's not just waking up everyday and going to work, and going home, eating dinner, and going to bed. And so, what's your recommendation to listeners in terms of how to identify for themselves what really categorizes something that's worth putting their effort into? Because you have to make these trade- offs. How do they identify that it matters that much to them?

Lynne Capozzi: I think my advice, I think would be choose something that you have a passion for, that you're passionate about, and if you're passionate enough about it and you care enough about it, then you're going to hopefully find the time to devote to it. And if you don't have the passion around it, it's really difficult, especially juggling so many things. You have a busy job, it's an important job, we all have kiddos. And so, it's not easy, but if you can find that area that you think you have some passion in, that's, I guess would be my advice.

Tricia Gellman: Yeah. And then are there things, I mean, you just outlined before, you have your meetings set, they're on the calendar, you know you're going to work around them. It sounds like you put on your calendar as well the time to do the prep work that you're going to need for board meeting. Outside of sort of blocking the time to make sure that you're doing the work and that you're not falling behind, is there any one other piece of advice that you would have for people for balancing and managing their time to be able to deliver across multiple demands?

Lynne Capozzi: I don't know any other advice. I'd say the one thing I find that I do is just sleep less, and that happens. Honestly, if I feel like I'm behind a little bit or I need to do more, that's typically what happens, is I cut back on a little bit of sleep for a couple of days. But I think devoting the time, holding yourself accountable for it, and making sure, I'd say, that you have planning time. So it's not just a matter of holding the time on your calendar, it's actually a matter of," How am I going to plan out my time, and my effort, and my energy?", and making that a conscious decision to set yourself planning time so that you can plan," Okay, this is a priority to me. This is important. This is what I want to do with my time, and therefore I know how much time probably that that will take." So, sometimes we have such big calendars in front of us that it's just an autopilot through your calendar, and having that time to just really strategize and think about how you want to spend your time, is equally as important, I think.

Tricia Gellman: Yeah. Is that something you do weekly, monthly, quarterly? How often do you feel like you're sort of reevaluating your time? And something I'm going through right now, which it's interesting to ask you, because I feel like I have several meetings, but then if I look at what's accomplished in those meetings in the end of the week, it's not getting me to that goal. And so, coming back from maternity leave and looking in the meetings, I'm now saying," Okay, these meetings exist because by the end of the week, I need to know X, Y, Z, and therefore, we have to restructure what's happening in these meetings." And so now, I'm doing an exercise with the people who participate in the meetings, to gain alignment on what we're doing in those meetings.

Lynne Capozzi: Yeah, for me, I definitely look at it weekly, so it's part of my Sunday ritual, right? In terms of what's what's upcoming for the week ahead. The other thing that I do, is I do a fair amount of it on a quarterly basis. So one of the things that I've done both for myself and for my marketing team, is one week per quarter, we have what I call a marketing scrum week, which probably wasn't the right name, but I picked it quite a while ago, so I need to stick with it for consistency. So I call it marketing scrum week, and so I give my team permission not to attend meetings. And so, I ask the company and I say," We are in marketing scrum week. We are heads down with the following list of tasks." And so, we one, we do planning during that week. Two, we put together a list of tasks that we want to complete, and we cheer each other on and reward each other for the tasks that are completed. It really energizes people, because it gives them their time back, and it's the one gift I could never figure out how to give people, which is more time. And so, by eliminating the meetings, it does give them more time, and the other thing that it does is it makes everyone sit and self- reflect to say," Do I really need to be in that meeting going forward?" Do I crosstalk-

Tricia Gellman: Yeah, it kind of creates a reevaluation. I mean-

Lynne Capozzi: Yeah.

Tricia Gellman: ..."Why am I going to be in that meeting next week when last week, I survived without it?" So.

Lynne Capozzi: Right.

Tricia Gellman: I love that. That's so cool.

Lynne Capozzi: Exactly. Yeah.

Tricia Gellman: And sorry, do you do that at the beginning?

Lynne Capozzi: We do it middle of the quarter.

Tricia Gellman: So then if it fits in your planning time period too?

Lynne Capozzi: Correct. Yep, exactly. And then it doesn't interfere with, I can't do it in the last month of the quarter, because that would be horrendous for sales, right? I.

Tricia Gellman: Yeah, yeah.

Lynne Capozzi: I don't want to say," Sorry, we can't do anything in the last month of the quarter." So yeah, so we do it in the one week, and then in the second month of the quarter.

Tricia Gellman: I love that. That's a great takeaway for the listeners. So now we get back to your experience, small company, big company, one company that's big and then small, I mean, small and then big. Gratefully, not big and then small. You've seen a lot of different things, as well as now that we're in this digital age, you're providing solutions for experience in the digital age. So where do you see marketing going, and how has the role of CMO changed?

Lynne Capozzi: Where do I see marketing going? I think there's a couple of changes that are happening in marketing, which are so super positive, some of which I think are just even driven by the pandemic. So one I'd say is I see a change in marketing where it's almost like, I'll call it an evolution of marketing. So I think all of us as marketers are moving towards less jargon, more empathy, more value, because we know that it's harder and harder to get attention, and it's harder to how to raise above all the noise, the digital noise.

Tricia Gellman: The noise, yeah. Yeah, one of the things we talk about, which I think hits on that point, is really this blending of personal and business time. I mean, I like to talk about it as business to human, because your message has to rise above the fact that you're trying to order something from Amazon to make sure it comes in two days, and then you're back in a meeting, and then you're doing all these things, and you're kind of juggling them all the same, because you're in your personal environment most of the time you're doing it anyway.

Lynne Capozzi: Yeah, and I don't think that's going to change. So I actually think that that's a really good thing. I think the raising above the noise and less jargon, more value, more succinct.

Tricia Gellman: Yeah, I love it. I think it's a great thing to adopt.

Lynne Capozzi: Yeah, yeah. I think so too. So I'd consider that definitely a positive in terms of how marketing is changing.

Tricia Gellman: Yeah.

Lynne Capozzi: The other change that I've seen, which is pretty dramatic, I think, is how we're making use of analytics, right? And making data- driven marketing decisions, everything from the data that you're gathering from your website to... We've got metrics on everything, right? I can measure personalization, I can measure how my conversational marketing is going with Drift. I mean, I can measure everything across the board. I measure all my programs, I use a customer data platform so that I can measure every single campaign and analyze my customer data. So that's what I think is a big difference now, is much more analytics and much more data- driven decisions, and I think it's only to the benefit of marketers because obviously, we get better decision- making, but I like to think of it as traditionally, marketing has been a little bit more of an art, and now I think with all the analytics, it's a nice kind of combination of art and science together, and it definitely makes marketing more credible as well.

Tricia Gellman: Yeah. There's a professor, I think he's at NYU, and he wrote and did a bunch of studies earlier in the'90s about the rise of sort of the digital technology and how it really ties us closer into the analytics, and how in the early 2000s, how people really rotated to what I would call direct response, right? So like advertising Facebook, doing Google Ads, all of these things, versus let's say, brand advertising. And I know in talking to you, you had talked about how you've built your brand around bus shelter ads, and taking over cities and things like that, which we just can't do today. So his study showed that people went so deep on it, because they got so addicted to these numbers and this instant data- driven analytics type of activity, that they lost some of the sort of softer, non- technical, non- analytics components of marketing, and that really, you had to get back into this blend. So how do you think people are looking at that? Because now in the digital world, there aren't as many things to even think about. Do you think that that changes, or what have you seen? Because you've kind of lived through the non- measurable era, all the way to where we are today.

Lynne Capozzi: Yeah, I think it's a blend. I think those brands that are successful are the ones that are finding a middle ground between the two, between using those analytics, and so, being able to be data- driven and analytical, but not to the point where you're paralyzed, right? Where you it takes you so long to make a decision because you need so much data. So I think the brands that are successful are the ones that still use the art form, use the data, a combo together, and try, and experiment and trial, right? That's still what marketing is about. It's trying and seeing what works and what doesn't, and I think it's the speed at which you're willing to try new things, using your data as background. That's kind of one of the most important things, I think.

Tricia Gellman: And then do you have different roles on your team now that are helping you to do this? My experience is that 10 years ago, we didn't have some of these roles, and we've had to create them and also potentially even take, not taken them, but kind of carved them out or created people on your team that have to partner with other teams, specifically, like in the role of CMS, there's a lot of work that needs to happen in companies with working with IT organizations, and whether or not you have sort of that technical IT level person on your team or not.

Lynne Capozzi: Yeah. So yes, the roles have definitely changed. So I've done a combination of added some new roles to the team. I also have a couple of web developers. So I actually have developers that sit in my marketing team.

Tricia Gellman: Mm-hmm(affirmative). Which is new. Like 10 years ago, that would never be the case.

Lynne Capozzi: Correct. That's right, exactly. No, no, 10 years ago it would be developers were on the other side of the wall in IT, and you'd throw over requests," Could you build a website, please?" They'd send you back something-

Tricia Gellman: Yeah, and you'd be waiting.

Lynne Capozzi: ...and it would be a game back and forth. It'd be," Oh, that's horrible," and you kind of keep going back and forth. So yeah, so I have a couple of web developers directly on my team. Not saying every marketer has to, but for me, we are the website company, so I need to make sure that we're right on top of it. So I have some developers that are on the team. I also have some folks that do analytics in my marketing operations team, so that team has definitely grown over the years, right?

Tricia Gellman: Yeah.

Lynne Capozzi: And so, I have a couple of people that are strictly data- driven that do analytics. I tend to add to that team with some part- timers, some co- ops and interns who have some of the more... There are people now that are graduating college with degrees in analytics, and they're the ones that-

Tricia Gellman: In data science, yeah.

Lynne Capozzi: In data science, yeah. So I definitely have a couple of those roles on the team, and then I like to have some folks that are right out of college, because they are so ingrained in social, and it helps, because it helps on our social side as well. So all different kinds of levels of experience I try to do for diversity, but yes, definitely those roles have been changing throughout the years.

Tricia Gellman: Yeah. Yeah, I think it's just so interesting. I remember it was probably about seven or eight years ago, I started trying to bring in new tech stack solutions to what I was doing in demand gen and all of a sudden, I realized, holy cow. How we had this over the fence IT thing, and it was going to be so hard to get the return on investment for the solution. And we had signed on luckily for a six month pilot, and I realized after six months that I couldn't get the buy- in in the time necessary to actually implement the solution in a way that would have high value, and we had to postpone the whole project to spend a lot more time really building up the argument of what the tech stack kind of needed to become, and what that meant in terms of the roles in marketing, as well as the partnerships that we had to have within IT. And that was when I was at Salesforce, it was a big organization.

Lynne Capozzi: Right, right. One of the things that I'm seeing more and more is more of the technology decisions and website decisions too, are now underneath the CMO, and so we're seeing more and more of that kind of decision making authority, and budgeting, and so forth, become under the CMO, which is good, I think.

Tricia Gellman: Yeah, I think it's good, and I think, I mean, especially in today's day and age, I mean, one of the things that we had talked about was a big change today is, how do you drive your brand? And I'd love to get your opinion of what are some of the ways you could drive your brand today in a digital first world? But in a digital first world, it is your brand, this is your experience, and so having someone like IT or others own the website is really challenging, and so I think it makes sense for it to be under the CMO.

Lynne Capozzi: Mm- hmm(affirmative). Yep.

Tricia Gellman: So in building a category, I think that also falls into kind of defining the brand, positioning the company. Now in the digital first world, what are some recommendations or tactics that you've seen work for helping to both reinforce the category and build your brand?

Lynne Capozzi: I think first, it's about knowing who your target is and getting as crisp as possible on your targets, your personas, your segments, whatever you want to call them, and making sure that you've got the right message for those targets, and then a combination of both product type demand gen, and we're talking about value though, always talking about value, right? As well as brand. So I always still like to keep a brand budget where we're talking about the brand, all digital right now, but a nice combination of product advertising and product demand, as well as company brand building awareness. And awareness comes from, in our space, it comes from people knowing that you exist, and knowing that we're a competitor to Adobe or some other offerings. And so, it's some genuine brand building advertising and awareness to marketers and on the IT side. But I always like to kind of keep that brand budget, as tempting as it is always to tap into that and to cut that, or to move it into something else, I always make an investment in brand, and I have most of the time.

Tricia Gellman: Did you see in the past year, as we kind of all pivoted super fast to work from home, and changes and challenges in terms of how you might drive your revenue numbers? I don't know if you guys kind of... We cut our forecasts based on not having the certainty of where things were going to go, and then we cut the marketing budget of course, as well. And so, I actually ended up pivoting more into the demand gen, like how do I really, really, really focus on the alignment with sales, and making sure we're building a little bit more of a machine in terms of marketing and sales together, and moving that forward, at the detriment, I would say last year of brand. That said, we did launch ourselves into a new category halfway through the year, so it was not 100% a mess, but did you see the same thing or were you able to really protect that money last year, as people were pivoting and things like that?

Lynne Capozzi: Well, yeah. I mean, 2020 was such a unique year in so many different ways. We did the same thing, so we initially had said we were going to reduce our plan, and then so we had the COVID plan, inaudible, and we had the new plan, and then what we did is I did put some of my budget and my brand budget on hold. So instead of a cut, I held onto it and I said, " Let's see how we do throughout the year," and as we got closer to the year end in the fourth quarter, we realized we were actually, we were beating the COVID planning, we were very close to the original plan.

Tricia Gellman: That's awesome. Congrats.

Lynne Capozzi: And so therefore, yeah, I could do more, I could spend that. I could pull up my brand and start to spend some of that.

Tricia Gellman: Yeah, that's awesome, and congrats. I mean, I think we've been fortunate to have heavy demand because obviously, when you're driving a digital first solution, it's very powerful in a digital first world, but we definitely, we saw changes and challenges in the growth, and we've grown tremendously in the second half. I think we did a lot of things to really pivot around the time that we were all pivoting to work from home, but then saw the returns on in the second half.

Lynne Capozzi: Yeah, we did a similar thing in terms of our focus, our main focus was definitely demand gen, and also customer marketing, to make sure that we would eliminate churn, and that we were maintaining our existing customers, because we know how important that was. And so, we did have some churn from, there were some organizations that just went bankrupt, so that's going to happen in a pandemic, but we spent a lot on kind of doubling down around our customer efforts, so I increased our customer advocacy type programs.

Tricia Gellman: We didn't talk about it earlier in what are the positives that came out of COVID, I think the empathy and really being human in terms of how you're speaking and getting rid of the jargon is super important, but I think the other thing which I think is a positive, because it's been a big thing that I've advocated for a lot, is customer marketing, and the idea now that marketers are not just responsible for new business revenue, but that revenue comes from multiple places with it being new business and driving that demand, but then also retaining and expanding those customers. And so really, I think as I spoke to CMOs over the past year, a lot of us are doubling down and putting more and more budget into that post sales funnel, and what it is that we're doing to really partner with inaudible counterparts.

Lynne Capozzi: Yep, absolutely.

Tricia Gellman: Yeah. That's awesome. So Lynne, let's change the topic a little bit. We've talked about your experience being a CMO in different sized companies, and what I want to talk about now is the recent exit that you all have had. You've valuated at a billion dollars, and Vista Equity Partners came in. Now, maybe people don't think of that as an exit because they think an exit is an IPO, that's what success looks like. Can you share with us, what does it mean to exit with a private equity partner, and how has that changed or not changed what you guys are doing at a leadership level at Acquia?

Lynne Capozzi: Yeah, sure. So we view this acquisition like we have a new investor in the company. And so, I know other folks that have been acquired by private equity firms, and the first thing I hear is," Oh, they're slashing, we're cutting. We're doing this, we're cutting back," that's not the case at all for us, so Vista definitely made an investment in us and they want us to grow, more so than what Acquia would've done by ourselves. And so, it's an additional investment is kind of the way to think of it, and that additional investment initially is going towards more product. So we're increasing our investment that we have in our development team, and increasing the size of the team, and that will help us with obviously more product offerings, larger product offerings, and investment for that. The second area we just started to do initial investment in, is sales and marketing. And so, fortunate enough to have an additional investment for us in terms of, especially around demand gen, and helping fuel the demand gen engine so that we can grow the business even more. So there've been other changes for us, there's a little bit more process, sure, there's a little bit more reporting out that we do. We have a couple of new board members, but really for us it's been, the investment has been great, and also we get to take advantage of what they call Vista playbooks, which is they help us with... They have processes that they know are successful from other companies, and we just pick up those playbooks and implement them.

Tricia Gellman: That's great. I mean, we have a mantra here," Innovate all the time, but that doesn't mean start from scratch." Adapt off of other people's best practices, is the fastest way to change and pivot.

Lynne Capozzi: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So I mean, the playbooks can cover everything from kind of what should the back office infrastructure look like, accounting and all that, and even things like sales enablement playbooks, which are super helpful.

Tricia Gellman: Yeah, that's super helpful. And so, then do you have a lot of interaction with the team? Are you going through the playbooks with them, and as a CMO, are you involved with... I guess now they're the board, right?

Lynne Capozzi: Yeah, some of them are board members and others are various roles throughout Vista, and yes, I have interaction with them, for sure. Yep. So sometimes it's reporting out to them, other times it's engaging them, asking them for them advice, and the other thing that I find super helpful is I now have a network of CMOs from other Vista companies, and I'm able to have connections with those other CMOs from other companies, really helpful for me.

Tricia Gellman: Excellent. Well, this brings us to the end of our session. It's been a great conversation, and I end every single session with the same question. So time for my magic question, and that question is, what is the number one lesson that you believe, in marketing, a marketing lesson that you've learned in your career?

Lynne Capozzi: Hopefully it's a magic answer, I would say that probably the biggest marketing lesson that I learned is there needs to be a tight synergy between marketing and sales. You need to share the same goals, you need to share the same objectives, and there needs to be a plan that is cohesive between marketing and sales, and when you don't have that, marketing is even harder. It's just super hard to do if you're not aligned. And so, that's my kind of lesson throughout the years, is make sure that marketing and sales alignment happens.

Tricia Gellman: I love that, because we had the conversation earlier about the importance of digital marketing and the analytics that you get out of it, and the ability to make smart decisions and using sort of data to drive your decisions, but I think data around leads is not as valuable as data around revenue. And I think now as we move into this new digital era, we call it the revenue era, it's not okay as a marketer to just be responsible for leads, you need to move closer to the CRO, you need to move closer to sales so you can share on that metric, whether it is the pipeline or it is the revenue. I think in different companies, it's different things, but it's a big message that I love to push, so I love that that's your lesson to bring to the inaudible.

Lynne Capozzi: Excellent.

Tricia Gellman: Yeah, we could probably have a different session on what are your tips and tricks on working with sales, but for another time, maybe we'll invite you back.

Lynne Capozzi: I would love to come back. That would be great.

Tricia Gellman: So thank you so much, Lynne, for joining me on CMO Conversations, this has been a great conversation. I think you've shared a lot of lessons in terms of what you've learned through your career, and there are a lot of great takeaways, whether you're a CMO or you aspire to be a CMO. One thing that our listeners love is to connect with podcast participants, and so what would you recommend? Should people reach out to you at LinkedIn? Should they reach out to you at Twitter? What's the best way to communicate with you if they have added questions?

Lynne Capozzi: I'm on them all, so my email is lynne. capozzi @ acquia. com. I'm on LinkedIn as well, and on Twitter I'm lcapozzi. So any of those is fine, I would love to hear from people.

Tricia Gellman: Excellent. Well, hopefully you all took a lot away from this episode. If so, and if you are a fan of CMO conversations, please reflect that in the stars that you give on your platform of choice for podcast listening. It's been so fun having Lynne, an experienced CMO at multiple levels join us. I think we are very aligned in what we are trying to do in our companies and some of the things we've learned along the way as well. And so, I'm going to wrap this up, but hopefully look forward to hearing with you all in another two weeks when I get my next guest on CMO Conversations. Thanks everybody.


In 2008, software veteran Lynne Capozzi joined a brand new tech startup called Acquia as its CMO. Fast forward to 2019, and Acquia was bought by Vista Equity Partners for a whopping $1 billion. The Acquia CMO quoted in all the press releases sharing the announcement? Still Lynne Capozzi. On this episode of CMO Conversations, Tricia sits down with Lynne to talk about why she joined Acquia (twice – she left in 2011 to start a nonprofit then boomeranged back in 2016), how to scale marketing at critical growth stages, and how her role has changed over time.

Like this episode? Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review and share the pod with your friends. You can connect with Tricia and Lynne on Twitter @triciagellman @lcapozzi