Feeling the DocuLove

Riding the Wave of Digital Transaction Management

It’s nearing midnight and Keith Krach, CEO of DocuSign, is enjoying his own party at Ruby Skye on Mason Street in San Francisco. This is not a CEO, like so many others, who throws a shindig as if it were slop into the trough for hungry hangers on — the unwashed journalists, analysts, partners, developers, suppliers, and even buyers attending his conference — and then goes off to a private affair with his biggest customers.


Krach has been here all night, boogieing down to wall-to-wall covers by The James Gang, which could be his favorite band. They have been playing this party at this venue for at least the past three years that I've been attending DocuSign Momentum.

Krach’s button-down Oxford still looks pretty crisp, which is amazing because I’m dripping in sweat, but he has taken his jacket off. At one point, I find myself dancing with a charming woman with a slight European accent who introduces herself as his wife, Metta. Krach is alternately dancing with her, his employees — male or female, it doesn't matter — and his top lieutenants, who show moves that look more like they belong at a gathering of Native American tribal chieftains than at a rock-and-roll fest. I spend two minutes with him, shouting jokes into each other’s ear, but frankly, neither of us can hear anything.

As I head back to the hotel after midnight, I find myself a hundred feet behind Krach and his lady, who are talking, laughing, and occasionally holding hands like two teenagers as they amble through the mild evening air back to their apartment, which is not far away. All day Krach has been talking about “feeling the DocuLove” in his keynote at Momentum 2014, in hallways, break rooms, and wherever he can find a listener.

He’s on a relentless campaign to convince the world that DocuSign, which is officially in the “digital transaction management” (DTM) business as of this year’s conference, is a verb. As in, “Let me get those terms and conditions into the agreement, and then we’ll DocuSign it.” Speakers in various sessions all talk about DocuSigning this and that. DocuLove, an extension of that idea, is in evidence everywhere.

And well it should be. A lot has changed since last year, and all of it is good. The company has just taken in $85 million in a round of private financing, led by Morgan Stanley, that values the company at $1.6 billion, and sales and operations are firing on all cylinders. The excitement of success is in the air.

I've written about DocuSign before, and I've been concerned that I’m being too enthusiastic about the company, which is a client of mine. If anything, though, it has exceeded my expectations in terms of growth in software and market development, partnerships, and business volume. As a private company, DocuSign doesn't reveal revenue figures, and I have no inside information, but a revenue model that I have been refining for about a year indicates that an annual figure around $100 million wouldn't be wildly off the mark.

Built around electronic signature, which represents the tip of the iceberg, the company now offers a whole range of business-process management software as a service. Starting with eliminating the “wet” signature on paper, DocuSign has built an entire end-to-end transaction management platform that does away with paper completely for many business processes across an array of vertical markets like financial services, insurance, and health care. DocuSignage is faster, more accurate, less expensive, and a better experience. The value proposition is so simple that many people initially dismiss it, but it resonates more fully as more departments in an enterprise adopt DTM.

To hammer home the reality, this year’s conference featured story after story of individuals and firms experiencing an “ah ha” moment with DocuSign. People told of how much they saved on existing processes, how much faster transactions occurred, or how much happier their customers were as a result of using DocuSign. On the plane on the way out to San Francisco from Boston, I told the guy next to me where I was going, and he said that he uses DocuSign at his software company. “Everybody has a DocuStory,” Krach said during his speech.

What a difference a year makes.

At the conference, the company made so many announcements that it was difficult to keep track. There were 10 official press releases, and several less formal announcements.

A bit on each release:

  • Microsoft and DocuSign announced a long-terms strategic relationship to make eSignature apps widely available to Microsoft’s 1 billion customers from within Microsoft Office 365 applications, including Outlook, Word, SharePoint Online, SharePoint Server 2013, Azure Active Directory (for single sign-on), and OneDrive (for secure cloud storage). Apps and templates can be obtained from the Office Store and elsewhere.
  • The aforementioned funding round was raised to drive market awareness, sales growth, product development, vertical-market and international expansion, and strategic partnerships.
  • The company released the DocuSign Security Appliance, which allows companies in industries and geographies with high security needs to manage their own encryption keys, letting them benefit from cloud-based DTM while meeting specialized security requirements.
  • The Spring 2014 release of the company’s DTM platform includes carrier-grade availability for uptime even during peak usage and under degraded network conditions, a better, more intuitive, visually oriented user interface, new mobile apps for Windows 8 and Windows Phone (to add to existing iOS and Android apps), and an education program for DocuSign administrators.
  • DocuSign and OpenTrust, a leading provider of trusted identity-based solutions for protecting credentials, data, and transactions in Europe, will jointly market and sell a combined EU-compliant solution for DTM. For those cases where nothing less than a digital certificate will do, this partnership adds an additional seal of approval to digital signatures.
  • DocuSign and a group of partners (FedEx, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Hewlett-Packard, the Stanford School of Medicine, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, Mandiant, Purdue University, and a former director of the National Institute of Standards & Technology and National Science Foundation) formed a board of governors to determine DTM standards for key vertical markets. The group is calling its effort the xDTM standard, where the ‘x’ stands for the vertical market concerned (e.g., HDTM will be the healthcare standard).
  • DocuSign and Ariba announced DocuSign for Ariba, a full integration of DocuSign eSignature into an all-digital purchasing process, simplifying, reducing costs, speeding execution, and reducing errors.
  • LegalZoom announced that it has integrated DocuSign into a mobile version of its online legal solution for small businesses and families, allowing them to execute important transactions quickly and in a legally binding manner.
  • In another partnership, DocuSign and NetSuite announced DocuSign Digital Transaction Management SuiteApp , a certified capability that enables NetSuite users to send contracts and other documents for signature directly from within NetSuite.
  • DocuSign and Xerox announced that they will combine DocuSign’s eSignature solution with Xerox’s Transaction Content Manager (XTCM), allowing businesses that use XTCM to offer their customers a digital process from start to finish.

And that’s just the official stuff. A few other tidbits from the sessions:

  • Mobile, which was 15% of all DocuSign transactions two years ago, now accounts for 50%.
  • The company is examining multiple authentication methods users, including email, biometric, social identification, public records, and even a DocuSign identity card.
  • DocuSign bought Comprova, a Brazilian leader in digital signature and certification.

The company mentioned far too many large customer wins to enumerate. But two stand out from the crowd. You can now buy one of Elon Musk’s Teslas with DocuSign. And Krach, ever one to enjoy the fruits of his success, signed a contract to go into space on a Virgin Galactic spaceship. He even promised to DocuSign something from orbit just to say he’d done it, as he made an aside about “becoming the inter-galactic standard for DTM.”

Krach hammered home his three key takeaways: DocuSign offers

  • Unprecedented value,
  • World class platform, and
  • A trusted network.

Oh, and one more DocuTerm made it into the vocabulary this year: Krach kept referring to his employees, customers, and partners as all being part of the DocuFamily. I even felt the DocuLove myself out there on Ruby Skye’s dance floor, writhing to the beat along with everyone else.