This podcast is for informational purposes only and does not constitute an advertisement. Views expressed are those of the individuals and not necessarily the views of Thoma Bravo or its affiliates. Thoma Bravo funds generally hold interest in the companies discussed. This podcast should not be construed as an offer to solicit the purchase of any interest in Thoma Bravo fund.
AIR DATE: January 25, 2024
RUN TIME: 7:52
This podcast is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute an advertisement. Views expressed are those of the individuals and not necessarily the views of Thoma Bravo or its affiliates. Thoma Bravo funds generally hold interest in the companies discussed. This podcast should not be construed as an offer to solicit the purchase of any interest in any Thoma Bravo fund.
Hi, I'm Chip Virnig, partner at Thoma Bravo, and this is Beyond the Deal, a special bonus episode of Thoma Bravo's Behind the Deal. And I'm here with the former CEO of Dynatrace, John Van Siclen.
John, I'm excited to talk about your inspirations, your career, and your life, and if our viewers want to learn more about the origins of our partnership, they can listen to our full length episode on Behind the Deal.
So John, earlier on the podcast, we talked about the milestones along your career with Dynatrace over those 13 years, but I wanted to kind of ask you a deeper question along the way there. Is those four different CEO hats or general manager hats that you wore, which was the... Forget about the dollars. What was the most rewarding for you?
That's a really hard one because each one had their challenges, but they actually had their rewards as well. I'm a real believer that nothing's a straight line. It only looks easy from the outside. It's always a challenge inside and you need to take those challenges and turn them into opportunities. And the venture business seemed pretty straightforward to me because I'd been in it for multiple lives and knew what the VC's expected, and it was really about figuring out how you take the first few dozen customers and turn them into hundreds, which was really a core part of my career growing up in sales and business development.
The second phase was probably the most challenging, the Compuware phase because I wasn't really in charge of everything. I was in charge of products and market and global resources, but not for how the business operated underneath to support it.
Yeah, I said I'd never be another public company CEO. I was one once, and I just felt like, gosh, there's a lot of things that take your attention away from driving the business, if you will. But I knew that if we could get a sustainable, predictable revenue model under our belt with a leading edge product that had a lot of room to continue to grow, that it would be an awful lot easier, and it was. And super exciting ride. So each one had its excitement and that's what keeps me interested. I'm a problem solver at heart and there are plenty of them along the way.
So here's a difficult question. Now I feel like I'm interviewing a Hall of Famer athlete here. But it's 2021, everything's going great. What made you think that was the time to step away from it all?
We had had sort of discussions of what if and maybe and that kind of thing. No firm decisions prior to that moment. With the company approaching a billion dollars, and having done it for 13 years and having two additional granddaughters on the way, it was one of those moments where I could just keep at it or I could leave on top and shift gears and turn my attention elsewhere and toward the family that frankly over the years they had to put up with me. From what I've been able to see from afar, things really have continued to be quite successful at Dynatrace. What we built is still rolling along in the model that we envisioned.
Let's reminisce a little bit. The listing on the New York Stock Exchange. Up in that podium balcony, ringing the bell in 2019. Clearly we talked about what that meant financially and all the milestones, but what did it really mean for you and for the company? And I told myself I wouldn't cry on the podcast, so please be gentle right now.
It was a surreal moment for sure. It's not something that was on my bucket list, I have to do it. But once it became a potential item to be able to do, it was like, wow, this is going to be exciting. And it didn't disappoint. It went by in a flash. You're just so present with everything that's going on as time just wasn't relevant, really. So it was a bit of a blur. I have to look at pictures to remember some of those moments. But standing on that podium and ringing the bell with you, Chip, and Seth Boro, and the management team of Dynatrace, it's one of those moments in time in someone's career where it's just special.
How about you? What did you think? You're a young man. I'm near the end of my career and I'm doing it. I was so excited. How about you?
I'm emotional enough of a human being to just looking at the faces of you and Bernd and Steve and Steve and Andrew Hittel and everybody up there on that podium, just looking at everybody's faces and just realizing how long that journey was for everybody and the good times, the rough times, and just how that story progressed to the point of that occasion. It was just looking at all your faces, literally, just I forgot about the financial return and what it meant for Thoma Bravo and all of our investors because that was all obviously fantastic. But for that moment, I forgot about it, and I just looked at you guys and I'm like, this is what it's all about. This is what it's all about. It was just great.
So John, one last question before we wrap up. What's something that you wish you would've known at the beginning of your career?
I've thought about that here and there along the way, but I have to say that it was probably patience. That's a double-edged sword, by the way. If you're too patient, you're in trouble. I'm a change agent by heart and I move fast, faster than most. And sort of thinking through what's next and how to get there. And having the patience to bring people along, I guess I underestimated a little bit maybe in my career. How about you, Chip?
Patience is definitely one of them. For me, I think I've benefited from having great mentors in Orlando Bravo and Seth Boro along the way for 15 years, and they've been here every day with me. But, I think being a better listener earlier on, just to absorb even more as a sponge. That's probably one thing that I wish I told myself. I was so busy trying to get things done, execute. I wasn't always listening and absorbing all those great words of wisdom. You remember our former chair at Dynatrace, Marcel Bernard. He was the mentor to my mentors and I wish I absorbed more from him when he was still active in the portfolio. And that's probably my biggest thing is being a better listener. It also helps you in your personal life.
One of the things that changed during our time together, Chip, was you went from the eligible bachelor of San Francisco to a married man now with a couple kids. How's that going? And in Miami, no less.
It is going. It's going well, and it's keeping me very busy. But thank you for reminding me of that journey as well. We'll save that for another podcast. How about that?
Well, John, it's been an absolute pleasure reconnecting, and it's been great telling our stories to everybody else and hopefully they enjoyed as much as we did.
I hope so. Thanks again for including me, Chip.
Certain statements about Thoma Bravo made by portfolio company executives are intended to illustrate Thoma Bravo's business relationship with such persons rather than Thoma Bravo's capabilities or expertise with respect to investment advisory services. Portfolio company executives were not compensated in connection with their podcast participation although they generally receive compensation and investment opportunities in connection with their portfolio company roles, and in certain cases are also owners of portfolio company securities and/or investors in Thoma Bravo funds. Such compensation and investments subject podcast participants to potential conflicts of interest.
Certain statements about Thoma Bravo made by portfolio company executives are intended to illustrate Thoma Bravo's business relationship with such persons rather than Thoma Bravo's capabilities or expertise with respect to investment advisory services. Portfolio company executives were not compensated in connection with their podcast participation, although they generally receive compensation and investment opportunities in connection with their portfolio company roles, and in certain cases are also owners of portfolio company securities and/or investors in Thoma Bravo funds. Such compensation and investments subject podcast participants to potential conflicts of interest.