From a Utah basement to a billion-dollar company

January 27, 2022, 11:52 AM UTC

Good morning,

A company created in the basement of a home in Utah 20 years ago went public last year and has earned more than $1 billion in revenue.

Founded by Ryan Smith, along with his father and brother in 2002, Qualtrics specializes in experience management. “We went from a company located just in Provo, Utah to being an international tech company,” Smith says. He now serves as executive chair and director. Smith is also owner of the NBA’s Utah Jazz.

The Qualtrics XM platform helps companies collect and analyze data about the interactions they have with customers and employees on any chosen topic and helps them to take action to improve their experiences. Almost 17,000 customers including 85% of the Fortune 100 use its products, according to Qualtrics. Some clients include American Express, Walt Disney, and Coca-Cola, to name a few. 

The company says its number of million-plus customers increased 93%, year over year totaling 143, and that total revenue of $1.1 billion for 2021 is up 41% year over year. “We passed a billion-dollar mark with our fourth consecutive quarter of robust growth,” Qualtrics CEO Zig Serafin told me in a conversation about the company’s Q4 2021 earnings report released on Wednesday. (Though Qualtrics was acquired by SAP in 2019, it spun it off and took it public in January 2021. It now trades under the ticker XM.)

For Q4, the company reported a net loss of $309.8 million, or $0.56 per share, compared to $14.5 million, or $0.03 per share the same time last year. And an adjusted net loss of $39.4 million, or $0.07 per share. The net-dollar-retention rate in Q4 rose to 128% from 125% in Q3. “Experience management is at the heart of enabling deep connections with employees as well as customers,” Serafin says. “And this is becoming just as important to business success as any HR or CRM system.”

Amid the Great Resignation, the company is also seeing “strong growth” in its employee experience product line, he says. Perhaps businesses are measuring employee burnout or looking for ways to enhance recruitment. “Southwest Airlines has an ambitious goal of adding a significant number of employees to its workforce in 2022—which is a challenge for any company in this labor market,” Serafin said in the earnings call. The airline expanded its relationship with Qualtrics and used the company’s products to streamline everything from the interview process all the way through onboarding.

Qualtrics is still headquartered in Utah but now has almost 5,000 employees worldwide and 26 offices globally. Rob Bachman has been with the company for more than eight years becoming CFO in 2019. “I love the mission we’re on, which is to improve experiences,” he says. Bachman enjoys having a front-row seat to see “how the market continues to grow in demand and use of our platform,” he says. 

What’s next? Serafin says the company expects total revenue in FY22 of $1.402 billion to $1.406 billion, representing 31% growth year-over-year at the midpoint.

See you tomorrow.

Sheryl Estrada

Big deal

Privacy in Practice 2022, a report released on Jan. 26 by ISACA, an international IT governance association, highlights persistent understaffing that is impacting enterprise privacy teams. For example, when it comes to filling technical privacy roles, 23% of respondents said it takes one to three months, 22% said three to six months, and 16% said more than six months. One reason the time to fill positions is so long may be the lack of qualified applicants, according to ISACA. The findings are based on the responses of more than 800 participants who are in cybersecurity roles or IT strategy/governance roles. 

Courtesy of ISACA

Going deeper

5 Questions Every Manager Needs to Ask Their Direct Reportsa new report in Harvard Business Review, offers advice for career-defining conversations with employees to get a better sense of how they’re feeling about their positions. For example, how would you like to grow within this organization? Do you feel a sense of purpose in your job? Managers who help their employees feel valued are more likely to be rewarded by employees who become advocates for the organization, according to the report.


Miriam Connole was named CFO for Overseas General Insurance at Chubb, effective March 1. Connole will succeed John Jones, who is retiring from Chubb after 43 years with the company. Currently, Connole serves as CFO for Chubb's Europe and Middle East and Africa regions. In her new role, she will have overall financial management responsibility for businesses in 51 countries and territories outside North America. Prior to her current role, Connole was CFO of Combined Insurance, a Chubb company. She has also served as financial controller for Chubb's operations in London. Connole joined the company, then named ACE, in 2006 as regional controller for Emerging Markets. Earlier in her career, she held a number of senior finance positions in the insurance industry, including roles at Burford Capital, Friends Life Group, RSA and AIG.

Mark Ortiz was named CFO at Global Student Accommodation (GSA), a student housing company, effective immediately. Prior to joining GSA, Ortiz spent over 28 years in financial and operational management roles at GE across the U.S., Europe, and Asia, most recently as global FP&A leader and CDO at GE Capital. He has experience in key areas including financial strategy, M&A, governance, transformation change leadership and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Ortiz will play a key role in developing the business internationally, and in the U.S. following the opening of GSA’s New York office.


“The foundation of the economy is labor [and] capital equipment is distilled labor.”

—Tesla CEO Elon Musk, on an earnings call Wednesday, made reference to the electric vehicle maker’s humanoid Optimus robots, which could be in production by the end of next year. According to Musk, if you have “distilled labor” then you “don’t actually have a labor shortage," as reported by Fortune

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