Conversation with Clari Image credit PIxabay\TumisuAndy Byrne co-founded Clari in 2013 and has always been its CEO. He has led the organisation through its tremendous growth. During its history, it has achieved something that few others have managed, notably creating a software category, RevOps. G2 recognised both the category with a grid for Revenue Operations and Intelligence and placed Clari as a leader. Others that have claimed something similar, including ServiceNow and Engagio.

I asked Byrne to give me a thirty-second pitch for Clari. (Clari is an) “AI-powered platform that allows companies to drive more efficiency, growth and predictability across their end-to-end revenue process, helping them create, convert, and close more revenue. And answer the most important question in business: will you meet, beat or miss on revenue?”

Clari was started in a garage over a decade ago, and Byrne is proud of what they have achieved since. Clari has the largest revenue database in the world, with over $4 trillion worth of pipelines going through its platform.

What is the state of the nation update for Clari?

Andy Byrne, CEO of Clari
Andy Byrne, CEO of Clari

“We have just under 2,000 customers, and I can’t wait to say 3,000 this time next year. I’m excited about that. We have 700 employees. We have R&D facilities in the United States, here in Silicon Valley, Bangalore, India, and Kraków, Poland.”

Byrne also revealed that Sequoia is its largest shareholder and led the Series A funding round. Bain led the Series B round and the follow-on rounds included funding from Tenaya Capital and Sapphire (Ventures), respectively. Its most recent rounds were led by heavyweights SilverLake and Blackstone.

Its board of directors includes a list of SaaS leaders, including Steve Singh (Founder and former CEO of Concur Software), Stephanie Buscemi (former CMO of Salesforce), and Jim Goetz (who ran Sequoia for 10 years). Byrne revealed that Goetz has worked with Byrne in four other companies.

On vision

What’s your vision for Clari?

“What ServiceNow did for IT workflows, we’re doing for revenue workflows. We’ve expanded our value footprint in what people call the revenue cadence of every meeting that happens every day of every week, every month of a quarter, in the current quarter and the next quarter.

“They are using our platform to help them identify and eliminate all these revenue leaks and drive more efficiency, growth, and predictability across these different workflows. That is now what people call the revenue process.

“Revenue used to be thought of as just an outcome. About seven or eight years ago, people realised it’s not an outcome. It’s the most important business process. We transformed it.”

Looking forward

What do you hope to achieve by the end of 24?

“By the end of 24, we want to achieve our board-approved operating plan, which is a certain level of growth rates that we’re not disclosing.

“We’re starting to see a lot of momentum outside of our historical tech verticals in which we have Adobe, Workday, HP, and Palo Alto Networks. Some of the biggest folks in tech are using our platform. We’re closing bigger companies like Thermo Fisher. We have customers like ADP, Johnson and Johnson, Capital One, and Charles Schwab. We just closed Intuitive Surgical. We’re generally enterprise-oriented, go-to-market, and we’re being pulled up-market.”

As for the prospects of revenue operations and Clari itself, Byrne commented.

“I’m just so proud that we created this category. It went from revenue as not just an outcome to “it’s a business process”, then “it’s the most important business process”. Then it went, we need to rely on a revenue platform. When CNBC released their jobs report last year, the fastest growing job in the US was revenue operations, with 500,000 jobs. When you create the category, you create jobs. That’s why I use this word: prosperity. And I think our best work is in front of us. I really do.”

Is Clari building a channel ecosystem?

What are your routes to market?

“We’ve got enterprise sales teams that are going to market direct. If I think about 2024, another big thing that’s happened is we’re turning on the GSIs. We formally signed up with Deloitte; they’re building what’s called a revenue transformation practice. We’re working with Accenture and PwC as well. That is a new channel that’s opening up for us.

“I will say, that not necessarily a formal channel, but where we’ve seen a lot of momentum is through the private equity community. It’s just been fascinating for me. We didn’t think that that was going to be a route to market, but it’s big: KKR, Vista, Warburg. Silverlake Blackstone and Thoma Bravo: They buy a company and what’s the first thing they want to do? They want to drive efficiency, growth, and predictability, and they bring in our platform to help them do that.”

On acquisitions

Last year, you acquired Groove, what has happened?

“It’s the third acquisition we’ve done in three years. The strategy of our acquisition is we own the internal workflows. When I started the company, we wanted to own from Rep to Exec, running the one-on-ones, pipeline inspection meetings, slip deal reviews, and forecast calls.

“We didn’t necessarily have external workflows inside our platform. Groove is an example of that sales engagement, and we also acquired a company called Wingman that does conversational intelligence.

“That extends our platform to gobble up those external workflows. Groove is, by all accounts, exceeding board expectations, in terms of the plan we put together. We’re now deploying a full platform, a full suite, allowing them to do what the market calls, revenue orchestration across both external workflows and internal, all in one platform.”

RevOps and CRM

There seems to be a crossover of function and data between CRM and RevOps. Where is the dividing line, and is that an acquisition that Clari will make to extend the platform?

“We’re at this fascinating intersection of the most important business processes in the company, revenue, and the largest, most profound technological shift we’ve seen in our lives in artificial intelligence. People have relied on legacy databases and workflows on top of those relationship databases.

“CRM, Marketing, and ERP are powerful databases. Now, there’s a revenue database, and we’re building workflows on top of that revenue database. Does that mean it’s going to replace the CRM? No! CRM is always going to be a really powerful system of record, on top of which workflows will be built and continue to be built to help them run the business.

“But there’s been a specific desire for customers to have a dedicated, built from the ground up (platform), to do artificial intelligence, both predictive, descriptive and generative across these revenue workflows. Helping reps close deals faster, helping managers drive more revenue, helping execs boost the predictability and accuracy of their forecasts, identifying all the leads, and answering that important question: do we meet, beat or miss? It’s purpose-built for those use cases.”

How important is it to integrate with CRM?

“It’s so important. For Clari, you’ve got to integrate with both structured data stores like CRM and unstructured data stores like Exchange, Gmail, and Office 365. You have to tie into WebEx and Zoom to make sure you can get all that conversational intelligence.

“You have structured data and unstructured data; you time series snapshot all of that. And that powers new workflows that allow people to create, convert, and close faster. So yes, to your question, you have to integrate with the CRM, and that CRM is dynamically changing all the time.”

On product

Clari recently added generative AI features that improved the platform at a tactical level. I asked Byrne how it is evolving its AI solutions to the board and strategic level.

“We’ve been having a lot of discussions about AI in the boardroom. When we officially turned the platform on in 2013, we started predicting whether you would meet, beat, or miss. It’s at a rep level, deal level, product line level, geo level, and segment level, all of these different dimensions that revenue group them.

“What I found fascinating is to watch the humans and how they behaved. They first thought that it was pretty cute. They went from cute to curious, and they started using it as part of their daily rhythm. Now, they rely on it. They say what’s Clari calling. In all the board meetings, they look at a Clari call.

“Now, what’s happening is that our predictions are being pushed into different systems. Those systems want to use our system of record on predictions to help them, whether it’s in planning, expense management, or whatever it might be. So, the evolution from cute to curious to now reliant has been powerful.

“How does that manifest in a board meeting context? We are seeing a transformation from board meetings every 90 days. The interface between the board and the company is a set of PDFs that get shipped out, giving you an update on what’s going on in the company. That’s old school. We’re now getting to a point where we have a predictive data layer between the board and the C-suite. That is real-time and predictive.

“They know there are no surprises about how things are going, and this idea that the board only knows what’s happening every 90 days is going to be like the rotary phone for us. It’s going to be an always-on predictive interface.”

Do you think that will change the frequency of board meetings?

“The notion of board meetings will always be there. It won’t change the frequency. It’ll change the value and paradigm between the exec team and the board.”

On Challenges and Priorities

What’s your primary challenge?

“Our primary challenge is growing up as a company to go from single product to multi-product to platform. When you say we’re going to be the next ServiceNow for revenue workflows, that’s a daunting task.”  

What are your priorities?

“Priorities are, first and foremost, driven by the customer. Our number one priority is, customers want us to identify all their revenue leaks. It’s becoming an even bigger problem as we engage with bigger customers.

“When we engage with them, we do what’s called a revenue leak assessment. They are losing, on average, 15% of their revenue annually. A billion-dollar company is losing 150 million. BCG did a report last year. The data suggested that revenue leaks cause $2 trillion worth of economic destruction across all B2B companies annually.

“Second, people want to consolidate onto one revenue platform. Why did we acquire Groove or Wingman? It’s because they (customers) want to eliminate what the industry calls the swivel chair. Reps want to be in one system to create, convert, and close.

“Priority number three is AI, in three flavours: predictive, descriptive, and generative. We’re delivering value through AI, and our focus with the customer is on the vertical dimension of rep to exec.

“Then we have these workflows, external and internal, meetings with customers, and one-on-ones with my manager. I just spent time with Sam and his team at Sequoia’s offices in San Francisco, talking about where we’re going with all of our technology. How do we find those moments where we can drive a higher level of productivity?

“The way we think about it is how do we shrink the time to revenue? How long does it take to get results from a revenue process?”

The book question

What’s the latest book you read?

“I just finished the Elon Musk book. It was incredible. It’s a must-read for all operators and entrepreneurs. I’m reading The Boys in the Boat (by Daniel James Brown, Amazon Aus, UK, US). I’ve got two books on stoicism. I’ve been reading a lot and studying stoicism. Then my all time favourite is called Clarity and Connection (by Yung Pueblo Amazon Aus, UK, US). It’s a bedside table book. I’ve been doing a lot of meditation work for the last seven years of my life and doing a lot of self-compassion and mindfulness work as we go through craziness in our lives, now that I’m in my 50s. That book is a game-changer. It is so cool. Each page is one sentence.

“Let me give you an example. I take snapshots of these, and then I send them to folks.

“Before you can see someone else clearly. You must first be aware that your mind will impulsively filter what it sees through the lens of your past conditioning and your present emotional state.” 


There are the little vignettes in the morning when I think about that. And I do my affirmation and my gratitude practices before I get things kicked off.”


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