Opower went public 10 months ago. And a lot has changed since then: we launched a new version of our platform, went live in Asia, and proved that behavioral demand response produces powerful results.
A lot has changed for our award-winning CFO, too. We sat down with Thomas Kramer this week to get his take on life after the IPO, trends in the industry, and what's in store for tech companies in 2015.
How has your job changed since the IPO?
TK: Now that we're public, I spend a lot more time chatting with investors. Our business is complex, and they need a deep understanding of what we do before they feel comfortable putting their capital to work with us.
Opower has seen some pretty remarkable growth over the past couple years. What’s one piece of advice you would give CFOs of other rapidly growing technology companies?
TK: It's all about the fundamentals. Markets are fickle, but if you focus on building a great, sustainable business, you will eventually prevail.
Journalists have speculated that 2015 will be a banner year for tech IPOs. Are they right?
TK: While it's hard to predict any particular IPO, it does seem like there's a group of healthy, mature tech companies that could benefit from being public. With Box already out, and a host of successful companies considering making the plunge — AirBnB, Uber, Spotify and Pinterest among them — it does seem like the moment could be right.
From a CFO's perspective, what's the biggest trend you see for tech in 2015?
TK: I'll start by naming a trend I don't see for tech in 2015. Eric Schmidt, Google's executive chairman, recently predicted that the Internet will soon disappear: "There will be so many IP addresses... so many devices, sensors, things that you are wearing, things that you are interacting with, that you won’t even sense it. It will be part of your presence all the time." He was talking about the Internet of Things. I agree that it's coming, but I think we're years away from prime time. Here are a couple real trends I think we’ll see. First, security will become front and center of enterprise and consumer apps. Second, "big data" for its own sake will become a thing of the past — because consumers don't want raw data, they want personalized insights and actionable advice. Big data will be necessary, of course, but it won't be enough. Third, I think we'll continue making secure computing accessible from just about everywhere. Now that incredible phones and tablets are ubiquitous, we'll start seeing more apps that can deliver rich user experiences and solve real business problems anywhere.
What is one thing about your job that gets you out of bed in the morning?
TK: The people. Since my first day at Opower, I have always been blown away by the amazing talent we have working here. I am continually humbled by what I learn from my teammates.
Thomas Kramer is responsible for financial management, human resources, and administrative stewardship at Opower. Previously, he was CFO at Cvent, the largest event-management technology company in the US, where he helped grow the organization from its founding to profitability and 850 employees, and where he led the largest software financing round in the US since 2007. Prior to joining Cvent, Thomas was a consultant at Boston Consulting Group and a senior consultant at Accenture. He earned a Master’s at the Norwegian School of Economics, and an MBA at Harvard Business School, with a focus on strategy and finance.
Image credit: Cvent