Business Review - International CTO and VP Engineering Roles

Summer 2019

Market Trends

We are seeing an increased demand to incorporate relocation options into search strategies.  This has long been the case with more established clients (who have raised $75m+ ) due to the momentum of engagement, revenues and internationalization, but we are increasingly seeing it for even earlier stage companies.   At this stage, the desire to make a ‘brand’ hire who not only knows how to perform ‘orders of magnitude’ scaling, but also reassure investors in follow-on rounds has justified this strategy.  However, we are increasingly seeing this occur even at Series A, especially where the company has Tier 1 investors. 

The European Tech ecosystem continues gaining momentum, benefitting from the increasingly global distribution of venture capital over the last 10 years. European founders are raising larger financing rounds spurred on by a proliferation of homegrown unicorns. This intensifies the pressure to scale faster and ambitions for ‘brand’ hiring come earlier. The challenge is always striking the balance between making sure that those hired have retained the technical competencies to solve the founders’ current challenges as well as those of desired future scale.  The global engineering-led cultures within major brands insist on both scale and technical ability, so they become key hiring targets which are further driving wage inflation as founders attempt to construct packages of salary and equity in an attempt to attract outstanding candidates.

In our San Francisco office we observe that as Steve Case’s “third wave of the Internet” takes hold and the transformation of vertical markets intensifies, innovation is dispersing from the Bay Area to numerous other US States that combine deep industry knowledge with technology know-how.  This will further drive the relocation of technical, marketing and product leadership away from the Bay Area.

Sam Wilkins, Senior Partner and Head of our CTO Practice, has recently moved from London to our San Francisco office to further establish the US practice in a natural extension of our current strength in Europe. By creating a truly global practice in CTO, we will not only be able to partner more effectively with scaling businesses, but also meet the growing relocation demands more readily.

The Erevena Technology LeadershipTeam

Sam Wilkins

Senior Partner 

James Ryan

Principal

Jonathan Bryant

Principal

Patrick Anderson

Principal

Recent Searches 

Kobalt appoint Rian Liebenberg to lead engineering transformation

Kobalt, the leading independent music services company, offers an alternative to the traditional music business model, empowering artists, songwriters, publishers and labels with advanced technology, transparency, flexibility, ownership and control. 

On the back of a $90m Series D round, led by Google Ventures, Balderton and Section 32, Kobalt wanted to hire a CTO to transform the function in readiness for an IPO, whilst diversifying in services and keeping the pace of innovation high. 

Erevena performed a global search and secured Rian Liebenberg for Kobalt. Rian moved from consulting to product development and was a member of the post-IPO technical leadership team at Lastminute.com. Following this, he spent 6 years as an Engineering Director at Google, and most recently served as the CTO of Schibsted. It was here that he led a global transformation and centralisation of their classifieds’ technology platforms, building a distributed team of nearly 800 in the process.

“I really enjoyed working with the Erevena team. It was a true pleasure. It felt like a partnership and I felt I could trust them. They were flexible, and I really felt they were committed to finding the best person. The process was very structured, the profiles were very clear, their filtering was excellent, and they really understood the role. I can only rave about them!” Avid Duggan, EVP, Chief Strategy & Business Officer, Kobalt

Matchesfashion.com strengthen their technical leadership

Matchesfashion.com is a London-headquartered global luxury fashion retailer. Starting out as a bricks and mortar retailer, their online business quickly overtook store revenues, and the potential of the online business attracted investment from PE Fund Apax Partners to assist their continued rapid growth.

As a company in a transformative state, Matchesfashion.com required a technology leader who understood the nuances of reducing technical debt, modernizing engineering methodologies and scaling teams. It was imperative to find somebody who could gel with the executive team and ideally have solid tacit understanding of eCommerce market dynamics.

Erevena conducted a search for engineering leaders within retail and ecommerce environments which had undergone a significant transformation, securing Dan Knight who had driven transformations in more legacy technology environments as well as bringing experience within a fashion start-up at Ordre. He was hired as VP of Engineering and quickly promoted to CTO.

“Working with Sam and the team at Erevena was refreshing.  Not only do they have a deep understanding of the tech market, they worked in partnership with us to understand our needs and delivered against this, managing our expectations brilliantly along the way.  I look forward to working with them again.” Heidi Coppin, CPO, Matchesfashion.com

Beth LeBeau relocates to join Sqreen

Sqreen, a Paris head-quartered SaaS company, offers Application Security Management to developers. Founded by ex-Apple employees, they recently raised a Series A round of $14 million led by Greylock, with existing investors Y Combinator, Alven and Point Nine also participating.

As former Apple Engineering Leadership, Sqreen’s founding team set a very high bar for talent in an early stage company (Series A) and it was quickly apparent that a relocation would be required, as so few people met the requirements in the French market.  Erevena was hired to execute an international search across Europe and the USA to access leaders of the calibre required to succeed.

The founders wanted to bring someone into the engineering leadership team who had built agents-based tools that supported developers at a global scale.  Erevena performed an international sweep of all ‘agents-based’ development teams, securing Beth LeBeau. Beth began her career in start-ups before spending 5 years with both Amazon and Google in the USA. We were delighted to relocate someone with such a wealth of relevant engineering leadership, who also enabled further gender balancing of the Leadership Team.

“Sam (Partner at Erevena) pushed for information and discussed potential dream candidates but also potential trade-offs. They set expectations very well at the beginning – very smart. Sam worked like crazy and went beyond the financial rationale. If we were less picky we could have done it sooner, but we are delighted with the end result of relocating Beth from Google, Seattle. Sam has set the bar very high for other search firms.” Pierre Betouin, CEO, Sqreen

LoveHolidays appoint Michael Jones to drive international expansion

LoveHolidays, the online travel agency, was recently recognised as the fastest growing UK Tech company (by EBITDA). They are driving disruption in the sector allowing customers to create bespoke holidays, and discover new places through location agnostic searches.

Following LoveHolidays impressive growth, Livingbridge made its largest singular investment to unlock further domestic and international expansion. To achieve this, they also undertook to upgrade and build-out the leadership team, notably here in the CTO seat, which was paramount to delivering on their ambitions and continuing their organisational maturation.

Erevena conducted a Pan-European search for the top high-growth CTOs in the consumer landscape, placing Michael Jones, who was previously the CTPO at uSwitch.com. During his time there Michael helped turn the business around, took it to scale and a market-leading position, whilst successfully navigating a series of PE exits.

“Building a successful start-up is one thing, scaling it is another. So, finding a world-class CTO was a pivotal step in strengthening the leadership team we need. Erevena’s review of the candidate market was excellent, and key in helping us define the role and recognise the trade-offs in finding the perfect candidate. The search was not without its challenges and especially as we worked through a strong final shortlist, but Erevena‘s calm counsel, preparedness to challenge our thinking, and attentive managing of stakeholders was key.”  Alex Francis – Founder/CEO – LoveHolidays

Erevena is an Executive Search firm focused on high growth and transformation. Our clients are amongst the fastest growing companies in the world: they are VC & growth equity backed; they are publicly traded & privately held companies transforming to grow.

We work with investors, boards and leadership teams who value Erevena for our advice, collaborative approach, diligence, global reach and our expertise in hiring executives & non-executives who understand innovation & disruption and/or can deliver growth & transformation.

We have a “one firm” approach putting the needs of our clients at the centre of everything we do. We grow value in Erevena through investing in some of the funds with whom we work; through co-founding companies that complement or advance our service offering and through growing the capability, knowledge and potential of our people.

For more information on searches for CTO and VP Engineering Roles please contact sam.wilkins@erevena.com