“Pick the Right Investor” Words of Wisdom with Jitterbit CEO, George Gallegos
I had the pleasure to interview George Gallegos, the CEO of Jitterbit
What is your “backstory”?
I’m not the type of person that had a lifelong goal to one day rise to the role of CEO, but as I advanced in my sales leadership career, I started to seriously consider what it would take to assume the top post at an organization. It became a definite goal for me, but you hear a lot of stories about the struggles that comes with that job, so I wanted to make sure that when I did step up it was at the right place.
As it turns out, my path to becoming CEO of Jitterbit began a long time ago when I was managing sales for Scopus Technology and formed a strong relationship with the CEO, Ori Sasson. When Scopus was acquired by Siebel in 1998, I kept in close contact with Ori and after a year had brought him back on as an adviser to help secure a major deal with HP. Ori and I talked a lot over the years and he would bounce ideas off me, even after I moved on to a position with Cast Iron Systems.
He had approached me with several offers for different executive roles (including a few CEO jobs), but it wasn’t until 12 years later in 2011, when he gave me the details about his latest start-up, Jitterbit, that I decided it was time to make the leap. Jitterbit was then a small company with a solid business model and huge growth potential, and I knew the industry well from my work at Cast Iron. The lesson here I think is that it the work you do early on builds the foundation for your success later in life, and that it’s worth waiting to find a position where you have all the right building blocks to succeed.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
There’s a funny story about how I hired our head of products that reflects my overall mindset about building a team. I first met her at a tradeshow where she was working at a competitor’s exhibition booth and I introduced myself and gave her my card and said that if she ever considered moving that she should give me a call. We kept in touch and about once a quarter I would ask if I could convincer her to join our team, but the answer was always no. Finally, after we had been in contact for about three years, she agreed that it was time for her to make the move and it’s been fantastic for everyone.
I would say that even at our current size, about 75 percent of the company has joined directly or indirectly through personal networks. If there’s someone that I think can contribute positively to Jitterbit I’ll approach them on a very personal level. I like to meet their families, introduce them to my wife, or go out for dinner or drinks, to give them the a sense of Jitterbit that extends beyond the daily responsibilities of the job.
So what exactly does your company do?
Companies today find it difficult to get the consolidated information they need because their data is scattered across many different systems and applications. Traditionally, it’s been incredibly complex and time-consuming to connect these systems and tie together data from external sources. The Jitterbit platform unifies this critical information in days versus months, making it easy to utilize data from any source to help businesses work faster and more effectively.
Jitterbit’s single API integration platform helps busy developers, IT and business analysts intelligently shift their efforts from time-consuming and non-scalable custom coding to quickly orchestrating value-added business processes leveraging APIs.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I’ve always tried to ensure that our company balances business goals with a spirit of volunteering and giving back to the community, both in terms of our time and offering funding for charity organizations. We’ve had a long history of working with the Taylor Family Foundation, which initially ran a free summer camp for children who were living with HIV/AIDS and later expanded its program to cover an even broader group of young people with chronic medical issues and developmental disabilities.
We’ve also been participating in the Bike MS: Waves to Wine event to raise funding and awareness for multiple sclerosis. We’ve been riding with the Salesforce team for the last several years and the people at Jitterbit have consistently ranked among the top fundraisers, which is a big point of pride. We also do a lot of work with local food banks, giving time to help sort and distribute goods as well as participating in food drives.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
The first is that the buck stops with me. Some people say it’s a lonely job, but I try to create a big tent and bring others into that tent and put myself out there to find out, ‘What can I do better? What can the company do better?’ But ultimately the buck has to stop with me.
The second thing is that the culture flows from the top down through a company. How I act, how I treat people, even how I dress — I am serving as a role model for everyone in our community. It’s important to understand and keep in mind that the company culture will be reflected in how I treat the rest of the organization.
I’d also like to have heard more picking the right investor. How do you find the right investor for this journey that you’re on? You’re going live with these folks around the table, so qualifying which investor is right for you — what pitch is right for you, how do you determine what is right for you — is something I wish I someone had taught me about early on.
The fourth thing is to maintain your focus. Especially as your company gets bigger, there are going to be areas where you simply have to delegate to other people in the organization. You can’t do everything so you have to decide what to focus on that is most critical for the business.
Finally, I wish that someone told me about how change is a constant factor. Everything is always changing so it’s better to embrace it than try to keep everything the same. Ultimately, your business is fluid and you have to be able to go with that and be able to adapt to changes in the market and everything else.
I have been blessed with the opportunity to interview and be in touch with some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, or I might be able to introduce you.
I read the most recent book about Elon Musk and I was amazed to see this incredible business mind. It would be great to have lunch with him and ask questions about how he was able to juggle Tesla and SpaceX at the same time, and how he dealt with the situation at PayPal where he was basically run out of the business. I’m not sure this would have immediate educational value for me as a CEO but it would be really interesting to hear his perspective.