By @SimonCocking great interview with Zander Lurie SurveyMonkey ceo. Board member  &  co-founder. CBS/CNET alum. 

 SurveyMonkey has recently launched its new People Powered Data platform and surpassed 100 million surveys(now, that’s a lot of data!). The company is also talking about ambitions plans to grow its international hub in Dublin, so spoke with CEO Zander Lurie to discuss the company’s news and future plans.

What is your background briefly?

I started my career doing technology investment banking. After years in law and business school, I spent 6 years at JPMorgan advising internet companies on mergers and acquisitions and capital raises. I worked with some great companies and even better people along the way. In 2006, I jumped into one of those companies…CNET Networks, to help on strategy. After a couple of years I was asked to take on the CFO role. Over the years I’ve taken on a few leadership roles at top companies including GoPro, CBS Corporation, and, of course, SurveyMonkey—first as a board member, and then as CEO.

Does it seem like a logical background to what you do now?

Certainly! When I moved to the Bay Area I was 25 and super passionate about the internet sector. The wild growth was extremely exciting, attracting early adopters who were curious, focused and risk takers. I had the pleasure of learning from these mentors, and in fact, a few of my close friends started their careers at tiny companies like Netscape, Google and Amazon, that later grew to titans of industry.

All of that experience and passion for technology led me to where I am today. SurveyMonkey is an incredibly unique company with an extraordinary culture. We’ve been profitable from the onset with current revenue north of $200M (and growing), we have a well-loved global brand, exciting products and a team of some of the brightest and most curious individuals around. Our board is full of change agents and visionaries, including our newest members Serena Williams and Intuit’s Brad Smith.

1 min pitch for what you are doing now?

I joined SurveyMonkey full-time as CEO in January of 2016, and as a steward of our investors’ capital and a leader of 700+ people here, I really wanted to understand where the business was, what our greatest strengths were, and where we were investing and driving towards. Starting with a survey (obviously!), we found that our customers were using SurveyMonkey to power their curiosity, listen to voices and opinions of people that matter most–customers, employees and the market – and take actions based on the People Powered Data that we helped them gather.

All this work helped define our vision for the future which goes way beyond surveys and led to additional investment in 2016, resulting in the launch of the all-new SurveyMonkey this summer. We revealed our new People Powered Data platform for businesses—an important milestone and a super exciting mission that every member of our troop was part of. It’s already delivering incremental value and growth, and it’s great to see how excited our customers, employees and the market are about what we do and our new mission to champion curiosity in business.

How has the last 12 months been for SM?

This last year has been all about the transformation of SurveyMonkey: from a survey tool to a People Powered Data platform where businesses can get more value out of their data, and move from information to action.

We already serve 99% of Fortune 500 companies, and now we’re making it easy to deploy SurveyMonkey across the organization and put our solutions directly into key stakeholders in customer success, HR, marketing. We’ve custom built targeted solutions for businesses to understand why things are happening—quickly and confidently. It’s a massive market and growth opportunity for us.

For example, SurveyMonkey CX is our new solution for tracking customer experience and soon-to-be-launchedSurveyMonkey Engage helps companies get measurable insights on employee engagement. We democratized survey research with SurveyMonkey Audience, and now we’ve integrated our panel right into the People Powered Data platform and expanded its reach to 100+ countries.

We’ve also created new technology to transform survey creation and taking: SurveyMonkey Genius, your own personal survey expert, and an improved survey-taking experience that makes a survey feel more like a conversation.

We like the product and have used it a few times, what’s next for the company?

Glad to hear it! We have a clear vision of how people’s opinions and voices can be turned into actionable data, and the launch of our new platform and solutions is the first step in realizing this strategy. Moving forward, we’re laser focused on helping businesses understand what their core constituents are thinking through Employee Powered Data, Customer Powered Data and Market Powered Data.

We’ll continue to innovate our products and solutions with new technologies like AI and machine learning, combined with our research expertise and database to unlock actionable insights for businesses. We’ll help businesses drive conversations at scale with their key constituents in the place they already are: through a mobile-first philosophy and integrations with social messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and Slack.

We’re expanding our international presence, including building out our engineering teams in Dublin and Ottawa, and delivering additional localized features. SurveyMonkey Audience, for example, will have additional multilingual capabilities with support of 16 languages next quarter.

With our expertise, speed and scale we are uniquely positioned to win in the market.

Looking back is there anything you would have done differently & what tips would you give to people thinking of starting their own company in 2017?

I’ve learned to really try and understand what inspires people, what they are curious about. This is very important when you are recruiting your team. My job is to make sure we are building a team that’s strategic, diverse, inquisitive, accountable for performance and aligned on values. Rather than focusing on credentials on a resume alone, I’m much better now at asking the right questions (and encouraging curiosity) to ensure that we’re enriching and strengthening our troop and our culture as we grow SurveyMonkey to the next level.

We have research to back it up, but I can confidently say curiosity is one of the key assets of winning companies and individuals these days, and I’m very proud of the team we are able to attract. They could choose any top brand to work for, but they work for SurveyMonkey now, and part of that is our unique culture where people are encouraged to ask questions and drive change.

Why did you choose Ireland to grow your company?

We opened our international headquarters in Ireland in 2014 because of access to talent and ease of doing business, and now it’s a vital hub for our international business and global customer support team. Our customers are diverse, and we strive to build a diverse customer support team to ensure we’re listening to all customers.

So, our Dublin presence is key for SurveyMonkey’s international growth strategy—we anticipate the team here to grow by 25% this year and are hiring to build our Product & Engineering team that will focus on developing localized features and accelerating go-to-market initiatives. We are also in the process of building a Data Strategy to store data in different parts of the world, which will likely lead to additional investment opportunities in Ireland.

Anything else we should have asked / you’d like to add?

We have ambitious growth plans for our Dublin office, and last year SurveyMonkey was named among “Best Places to Work in Ireland” offering perks and stability of an established brand combined with growth opportunities and innovation of a startup. Our goals are clear, and we’re playing to win. So, I’d love to see more and more curious and talented people join our team here.

If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking

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