Enterprise Times had the opportunity to sit down with Mark Woodhams, SVP Global Sales, BlackLine in London. We asked Woodhams about the growth the company is experiencing. Its most recent full year results saw revenue climb by 27% to $289 million compared to 2018. It also added 153 net new customers in the fourth quarter bringing the total number of customers to 3,024 customers as at December 31, 2019. BlackLine shared more detail around those numbers:
- More than 267,000 users in 130+ countries
- Over 400 customers based in EMEA
- Over 200 customers based in ASIAPAC
- Offices in 8 countries around the world
- 1,000+ employees
Where is the International expansion?
Woodhams is responsible for sales outside the US. It is a key focus for BlackLine, traditionally its strength has been in the US. It has a large number of Oracle and SAP customers there. However, with the recent strengthening of its partnership with SAP, the international market has become more important. Hence hiring Woodhams to lead that initiative.
ET asked him about growth, he answered: “EMEA is growing really fast. International is growing and EMEA is growing faster than JPAC.”
What new countries did you emerge into during 2019 and where are you looking to grow in 2020?
“We separated the DACH region out in 2019 as a reporting entity so that we could give it the right level of focus. You will start to see us move more into Southern Europe this year; Spain, Portugal, Italy are the core focus and predominantly through extending the SAP partnership.”
What is the BlackLine approach to the market?
“It depends on the region. In North America the customers base is split down into verticals. Manufacturing and Retail are strong. Anyone that has a lot of data and a lot of touch points is strong for us.
“In EMEA it is more regional. In APAC we are strongest in ANZ. We need to get some penetration in Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan before we start focusing on anything else.”
What about China?
“It is not a core focus. We have subsidiaries of customers in China”
The importance of SAP
That verticalization is likely to come to the rest of the world once the customer base is larger. The focus at the moment seems to be on the strategic partnership with SAP. Woodhams talked about its progress to date.
“It is early days but it is showing really good progress. Like anything new it takes a while to get these things working well. It is a global arrangement and we are starting to get traction everywhere. We have put a big investment in money and people into Germany and we have started to see positives from that.”
BlackLine also integrates to many other ERP vendors. ET asked Woodhams whether it might form other, similar partnerships with one or more of those vendors.
He said: “We will retain our ERP agnostic approach outside of that and deliver to as much of the market as possible.”
What progress is Woodhams making?
Woodhams has been in the role just over a year. Looking back, ET asked him what he had achieved?
“Getting back to basics. Just getting some really good alignment and really good process in place and driving some strong execution.”
And what does he hope to achieve in the rest of 2020?
“Just to continue good execution. We saw good growth last year, 27%. I am planning on executing as well, if not better this year.”
Is that execution in terms of sales or customer success?
“All of it! I joined about 14-15 months ago and there were 4-6 new members of Leadership team. The biggest thing we have done is align as a company across all disciplines. It is about customer success, it is about selling more and it is about making our partnerships work.”
Routes to market
While BlackLine clearly sees opportunities working through the SAP partner channels, how does it operate otherwise?
“Predominantly direct. We have 7-8 BPO relationships. Business Process Outsourcers such as Genpac, Infosys and IBM. We have a relationship with the big 4/5 SI’s. There is also a channel program. I am involved in it because I want to see us become more channel friendly, more channel focused. That is what we are starting to do more and more in the mid-market”
How do you see the competitive market evolving in 2020
“I expected more competition than we saw last year. Our number one competitor is still Excel. There are some companies out there that can do bits of what we do. We don’t see them very often. It is really quite surprising. We are displacing large customers of Trintech.
“The market has a 13.5 billion dollar TAM. We are seeing great growth, by growth I mean levels of interest, level of pipeline. We have seen a shift of ‘I don’t really know what I need to do’ to ‘I recognise what the problem is and I could fix it’. That is a big shift. From my perspective it would be buying BlackLine.”
On those challenges
Woodhams explained the challenges faced by the CFO from their point of view saying:
“I have these expensive highly qualified accountants working on spreadsheets. That doesn’t make a lot of sense. If I can start to get them looking forward then they are happier and I am happier. You are starting to see more regulatory pressure start to come as well. People are starting to feel I have got to do something about it, I can’t afford not to and that is a nice change for us.”
Does Woodham’s himself have challenges?
“Managing the growth. From where I was 12-14 months ago where I wanted to build culture and some strong sales execution, I feel that we have got there. Now I want to maintain that and execute on the opportunity.”
What about personal challenges?
“I have yet to find a good TV channel in the US.There is nothing like the BBC in the US. It has been really interesting. I have had to learn how to write cheques again which is just bizarre. Living in California is quite nice, the weather is nice, the food is nice.”