Welcome Narayan Menon, Matillion’s CFO and COO
We’re excited to welcome Narayan Menon, Matillion’s new Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer, to our company!
Narayan is a seasoned technology executive with over 25 years of financial and operational leadership experience, including CFO roles in the world’s top tech companies. His expertise is a huge step forward for all of us as we accelerate our business execution and scale our platform.
In this fireside chat with Matillion Co-founder & CEO Matthew Scullion, Narayan talked about his reasons for joining Matillion and his first impressions. He also shared his experienced insights in the tech industry and the best advice he’s ever received.
Narayan: I’m Narayan Menon, the CFO and COO here at Matillion. Before Matillion, I was at Vimeo as the CFO. And before that, I spent 20 years in Silicon Valley working for companies like Cisco, Microsoft, Intuit, Skype, and Prezi.
Matthew: My name is Matthew Scullion, co-founder and CEO of Matillion. Our mission is to make the world’s data useful. We make data business-ready faster with the Data Productivity Cloud.
Matthew: So Narayan, welcome to Matillion. I’m thrilled you’ve joined us as Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer! We’ve got an important topic to cover today, which is the relationship between the CEO and the CFO & COO, the role you’ve taken on here at Matillion.
But before we get into the serious stuff, I thought maybe we try a few warm-up questions. As you know, we’re a British company with a significant American team and customer base. So I have to ask first: Soccer or American football?
Matthew: Cricket. Perfect. And next question: Tea or coffee?
Narayan: Coffee. The stronger, the better.
Matthew: Pence or Cents?
Matthew: Jam or jelly?
Narayan: I grew up in India, so jam it is.
Matthew: New York or Manchester?
Narayan: Oh, that’s a great question. I was in Manchester three weeks ago, and I’m definitely planning to see the place more before I can have an informed opinion. Let’s say that.
What made you join Matillion?
Matthew: To get us started, why don’t you tell me why you chose to join us here at Matillion?
Narayan: Matillion is in a very unique space in the market. As you know, the need for data is increasing every day, and the need for being productive with data is increasing even faster. Matillion has a unique opportunity to help its customers get that data, be productive, turn it into insights, and help grow the business.
Another great thing about Matillion is the people and the culture here. You have built a fantastic team for a company at this stage. If you look at a fast-growing early-stage company, you don’t see many companies with a very intentional focus on people and culture.
The company and the values here are very much aligned with what I was looking for. In many ways, it was kind of where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do, aligning very well with what Matillion had to offer. So it was a great fit for me. I’m very pumped about the opportunity and excited to be part of this journey.
Matthew: We’ve always had that mentality at Matillion. The team’s the most important thing and the team lives in a culture underpinned by the values; that was something that you and I immediately bonded on as we got to know each other.
But just thinking about the problem that Matillion solves, and the compelling total addressable market that creates, at its core, it’s about data productivity, right?
Everybody knows data is the new oil, and every business is racing to compete with data, analytics, and AI/ML to improve the way they work, understand their customers and their products, and all that good stuff. But the pinch point we see in the industry is how quickly we can make data business-ready. The demand massively outstrips the supply.
“As somebody who uses data in almost everything I do, I have seen what data can do to the growth of a business – or on the other side – what the lack of productive data can do to a company.”
So, in many ways, our company purpose very much resonates with my direct experience and what I do in my day-to-day job.
What made you the right candidate for the job?
Narayan: Now, let me turn it around on you, Matthew, and ask you: Why did you hire me?
Matthew: That’s not what I was expecting, Narayan. I was told I was interviewing you!
The first thing I will say is you were hired at the end of an incredibly thorough process, and that’s because I think the CFO/COO role is so important in the company. When you start off as a founder and CEO, on the first day, you kind of do everything. Ed Thompson, my co-founder and Matillion CTO, was engineering on the first day of Matillion, which left me to do operations, finance, product, sales, marketing, and everything else.
But as the business grows, we bring in specialist skills. Att the scale that we are now, as well as the size of the opportunity ahead of us, it’s important to continue bringing in the world’s best skills around execution, the rhythm of the business, the stage-commensurate capability to figure out what’s going on, and the ability to allocate resources optimally, to allow us to invest in our products, our teams, and supporting our customers.
And there is no magic rule that says CEOs are the best-placed people in the world to do that, just like I’m not the best person in the world to run engineering or run the field team or create marketing campaigns. So the reason I hired you, Narayan, is that I thought, in my best judgment, you have all the right experience that Matillion needs right now.
Lastly, a strong culture fit is extremely important for me and the team here. Someone that shares the same moral code as the rest of Team Green do, and the same desire to build a consequential, good company. So I’m really looking forward to your help!
Narayan: High expectations. Thank you.
We were fortunate to have a great year in 2022. How will you help us continue that momentum?
Matthew: Narayan, you’re joining at an exciting time. I always feel incredibly lucky and privileged to be part of the Matillion story, helping our customers solve the big problem around data productivity. We started off with the single product Matillion ETL back in 2015; we had about 20 people and a couple of customers.
Today, we’re a platform technology that helps our customers make data business ready faster with the Data Productivity Cloud. We have around 650 people on the team, thousands of global users, and hundreds of large enterprise customers across the US and Europe. That’s what’s happened so far. We’re lucky to have you joining us now at Matillion. What’s your role in continuing and accelerating that momentum?
Narayan: It’s a fantastic story. Not many companies can say that. So all of us should be very, very proud of where we are today. I’ve been very fortunate to work in some great companies and some of the best from companies like Cisco, Microsoft, and Intuit. I have learned a ton working in those companies about scaling businesses, accelerating growth, and all that.
And I hope to bring those skills and leverage those experiences to help us grow even faster from where we are today. A part of my charter is also working with each of the business leaders in improving the execution and accelerating the outcomes and business performance. So I’m really looking forward to working with, for example, the Product and Technology teams to make the Data Productivity Cloud a huge success, working with the Sales and Marketing team to really accelerate the global expansion of the go-to-market motion, and working with the G&A and Operations functions to make them more efficient and effective.
So I’m really looking forward to working across the company in making the boat go even faster, making Matillion a billion-dollar revenue company in the future. That’s very much in the realm of possibility.
Matthew: One thing you mentioned is the expertise that you’ve gained from those wonderful tech companies that you’ve previously worked for. Is it simply a case of copying what you did at Cisco and applying it to a company like Matillion, or how does that play out?
Narayan: No, there are some common threads, but it’s never copy-paste. It’s about finding the right way to adapt those learnings to the Matillion environment. The market is different. The time that we live in is different. The culture of the company is different. The people are different. To me, it’s never about copying and pasting something from somewhere else, but rather adapting the foundational elements of what made those companies successful and bringing them to bear here at Matillion.
Matthew: I guess some things are always true in great companies, but other things are, perhaps, more specific to them. The value that we give to our customers is our consumption business model, as opposed to the way software has traditionally been sold: perpetually or as SaaS licensing, etc. That, I guess, brings some benefits to our customers, and also some innovations required inside the business.
“Consumption model-based businesses are unique in many ways. One, it helps the customers grow at their own pace, and the company grows with its customers. So it’s a very natural motion for any business to have a consumption model. But it comes with its challenges; it’s not as simplistic as a software licensing model or a subscription model where you have very clear visibility into how the next 12 months are going to look.
What that means is that we have to adopt our processes and systems in a way that facilitates consumption, and help our customers be successful so that they want to consume more Matillion products. So it is unique in many ways, but there are companies that have been very successful with it, and history has shown that software companies with the consumption model have grown faster, have higher retention, and are more profitable over time.
The macroeconomic environment has changed. What keeps you up at night?
Narayan: I’m very bullish on Matillion and what the future holds for us. How do you see that from your seat? And on the other side, what keeps you up at night?
Matthew: I’m a CEO of a high-growth software company. Lots of things keep me up!
You know, you’re joining the company at an interesting time.
“We’re all on planet Earth, living through an interesting moment. There has been more than a decade-long bull run of cheap money and, macro economically, that’s all changed in the last 12 months. You know this as well, if not better than me.”
That offers a really interesting opportunity for Matillion. We’re the Data Productivity Cloud. Productivity, what does that mean? It means achieving more with the same. And our customers today need to do that more than ever. What our platform does is allow customers to innovate with data faster than they otherwise would be able to do. They can get more data insight with the same amount of resources, or they can actually – due to the low-code, no-code nature of our platform – get more people into the process of making data business-ready.
So it feels to me like the market need, which has always been strong for Matillion and the Data Productivity Cloud, is becoming even more relevant over time.
“Every company, from the smallest to the very largest, needs to harness its data to be more productive as a competitive necessity.”
That need is so huge that what keeps me up at night is simply ensuring that we scale our platform, our team, and our business execution in a way that is commensurate with that need – because any missteps we take on the way, we’re kind of doing the world a disservice by not getting our solution to the market. So yeah, lots of little things. But the big thing would be seizing the vast market opportunity we have in front of us.
Narayan: Great. So what you’re saying to all the CFOs reading this, is that they should adopt Matillion and really make themselves more efficient and effective.
Matthew: Yeah, the only nuance I’d add to that is CFOs, as well as CIOs and Chief Data Officers. But really, every business needs to compete with data, which is why our platform is, as we describe it, “everyone-ready.” It’s suitable for the highly technical data engineer writing Python, SQL, and DBT. But it’s also suitable for the ETL developer, the data scientist, and the tech-savvy business analyst. And because we support high code as well as visual low-code/no-code, it’s also valuable for FP&A team members.
So if you’re trying to make data business-ready faster to support your analytical, data science and machine learning ambitions, which is basically everybody in business, then we hope we can be helpful to that.
What’s your first impression as the CFO & COO of a UK-founded tech company?
Matthew: So Narayan, what are your first impressions as the CFO and COO of a UK-founded tech company?
Narayan: This is the third European company that I’m part of, and there are certain additional cognitive loads that you would expect being domiciled in a different country. The accounting rules are different. The regulations are different. That is to be expected. Outside of that, it feels like a great Silicon Valley tech company, with excellent talent and people who are driven and passionate about what they do to create a great culture. So it doesn’t feel that different, to be honest.
Matthew: Third European company. If you had to pick a favorite country?
Narayan: The UK, I’ll give you that.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Matthew: We’ve talked all about the vast body of experience that you’ve amassed through your career and the distinguished companies that you’ve worked for, all of which we’re excited to be benefiting from now that you’re here. Across that career arc, what’s the single best piece of advice you’ve received?
Narayan: Early in my career, my manager told me this, and I have reflected on this many times over the course of my career: It’s all about the people, the people you report to, your manager, the people you work with, your peers and your team. Your success is essentially determined by the people you have around you.
“And the last part of that advice is to pick your people very carefully. And I have. The farther along in my career I have come, the more and more I have really felt that to be true. So I have tried to be very picky about the people I have around me.”
Matthew: I couldn’t agree more that people are the most important thing. So I am super excited and grateful that you’ve joined Team Green. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us as we rise to the challenge of this huge problem that we’re helping solve. I’m glad you’re here to help, and I’m really excited about working with you in the years to come.
Narayan: Same here. I’m very excited to be part of this team. Thank you, Matthew. I am really looking forward to the next part of the journey.