Welcome to Daring To, a podcast that finds out how CEOs and entrepreneurs navigate today’s business world – the conventions they’re breaking, the challenges they’ve faced and the decisions that they’ve made, and lastly, just what makes them different.
Evan Goldberg, Founder and EVP of Oracle NetSuite, is responsible for product strategy and development at Oracle NetSuite Global Business Unit. Prior to Oracle’s acquisition of NetSuite, Goldberg was CTO and Chairman of the NetSuite board.
Before co-founding NetSuite in 1998, Goldberg spent eight years at Oracle Corporation, where he served as a vice president. He was involved in a variety of projects, all focused on making powerful database technology more accessible to users. When he left Oracle, he started mBED Software and built groundbreaking website technology.
Goldberg holds a B.A. Summa Cum Laude in Applied Mathematics from Harvard College.
Intro: [00:00:02] Welcome to Daring To, a podcast that finds out how CEOs and entrepreneurs navigate today’s business world, the conventions they’re breaking, the challenges they face, and the decisions that they’ve made. And lastly, just what makes them different?
Rita Trehan: [00:00:19] Well, welcome. Today, on my podcast is Evan Goldberg. If you haven’t heard of Evan, well, you may be one of very few people, because Evan started what is probably the first cloud computing company to exist today. Today, we think of cloud companies as though they’ve always been around, but they haven’t. Evan started his career with Oracle Corporation and most people will know who Oracle are. A Harvard graduate who joined Oracle when they were only 900 people. I can’t imagine what that was like, Evan. Only 900 people in the company today that it’s got, I know, millions of employees. How did that feel when you first joined them?
Evan Goldberg: [00:00:58] Well, you know, the journey has been the reward, actually. And, you know, we started as a very small company, grew up to be a public company and then, transitioned to be part of a very large company. So, kind of, you know, a full arc of what might happen to a business. But, you know, we feel like our organization is as vibrant as it was, you know, 21 years ago. And that’s sort of my day-to-day responsibilities, is maintaining that vibrancy so that in another 20 years, you know, we can look back and have accomplished great things.
Rita Trehan: [00:01:41] And you talk a lot about today, tomorrow, and beyond, about existing beyond just as an organization for today, but also thinking about tomorrow and much, much more about the future. And we’re going to come on to that because as the EVP and the founder of NetSuite, I mean, you carry a big weight of responsibility, particularly, as you were acquired only three years ago, having built that company from scratch. And I do want to touch on that a little bit. Did you, as a young kid, think I’m going to own a company and run a company and create this fantastic opportunity for businesses of all sizes to be able to leverage something that’s really important to enable them to sustain their business future? Did you like wake up in the morning, as a young kid, dreaming that?
Evan Goldberg: [00:02:25] I can’t say that I was that prescient, but when I was young, you know, the main thing that attracted me to technology was programming and the ability to sort of create something out of nothing really, you know, in the virtual world. And when I started programming when I was young and we were still doing it on mini computers, as they were called back then. And, you know, you typed on this teletype and printed it out and on a roll paper.
Evan Goldberg: [00:03:03] But the one thing that was common, you know, that I think is a current that’s run through my entire career is that what I got very excited about is building things that people would find useful and that would help them in their day-to-day tasks. And since, you know, most of one’s waking hours are a good portion of it, at least during the week, is working and I guess I was sort of attracted to, I guess you might call it the sort of a B2B world as I developed my skills as a programmer. And so, I guess, you know, that’s the current that runs through it, is making people’s jobs easier on a day-to-day basis.
Rita Trehan: [00:03:44] And I’ve read some of the articles that you have been published in and where you’ve shared sort of your passion and where it comes from. And you often talk about being that person, you know, that you light up. And I’m sorry that you’re not here to see your face, but that you light up when you’re able to provide a solution to somebody. And it was something that you discovered very early on, even when you were in education that you were able to provide a solution to individuals that help solve a problem. And you have that kind of aha moment that this is something to do.
Rita Trehan: [00:04:14] But there are many budding entrepreneurs out there today that must be looking in and in excitement hearing from you to hear like, how did you do it? I mean, how did you get that courage to say, “I’m walking, Oracle. I love you dearly, but I’m walking. I’ve got this idea that I want to create something special. And I realized that there’s a need for it. And I can see something that maybe you’re not seeing or have the time to do right now”, and go off and do that. I understand that your first office was above a hairdresser’s shop. I only wish it would’ve been about the hairdressers that I would go see, but it wasn’t. So, talk about that because it takes courage.
Evan Goldberg: [00:04:56] Yeah. Well, I mean, you know, I moved out from the east coast of the US out here to California right after college. And so, that was sort of, I guess, my first entrepreneurial move. You know, I didn’t know anybody out here and, you know, built a life, you know, both of a business life and a personal life out here. I was very, very attracted to the Silicon Valley. And, you know, I grew up, you know, where some of the more origin companies of the computer revolution were digital equipment corporation, companies like that, that were in the Boston area.
Evan Goldberg: [00:05:34] But I could see that the next generation of companies was in California and I was especially attracted to Apple. I loved Apple Computers. That was the first computer I ever had. And the Mac, I got that right when it came out and worked on it in college. And so, I was really excited about Apple, but I actually got steered in another direction. My sister ran a mutual fund as an investor and her fund was invested in Oracle. And she had personally met Larry and she said, “If you’re gonna go out there, you need to meet this guy, Larry Ellison, and you should go work for Oracle.”.
Evan Goldberg: [00:06:17] And I had no idea what it was. I didn’t know what relational databases were. But I met Larry and we hit it off. And I’d say, certainly, you know, a lot of the courage and impetus to start my own thing comes from my relationship with him. And he was an amazing mentor. And I saw what he was able to do and loved the idea of building up not just a product, but a culture. And so, the best way to do that, to build a unique product and a unique culture and going off and doing something myself. So, actually, NetSuite wasn’t the first company I did. So, I had an initial-
Rita Trehan: [00:06:58] Right.
Evan Goldberg: [00:06:59] … thought about it that, you know, as quite a really, really important role, not just because that company was my sort of mandatory Silicon Valley failure, but it also provided the motivation to create a company that would help startups succeed, make sure to succeed.
Rita Trehan: [00:07:20] I love the way you call it, the mandatory Silicon Valley failure because, you know, oftentimes, people look at successful CEOs and startup individuals like yourself and think, oh, like it just worked for them, it just happened. But in reality, there’s a lot of pain. There’s a lot of hard work. There’s a lot of disappointments before that moment crystallizes into success. So, share some of that with our listeners, because I think that’s really important. Because from failure comes learnings. And it sounds like you got some real gems from that initial investment.
Evan Goldberg: [00:07:56] Yeah. And so, you know, I mean, I jumped out of, you know, working at Oracle to being responsible for payroll and for real people’s, you know, salaries. And that’s an enormous responsibility. And when that doesn’t work out and you have to lay off people, you know, and you ultimately maybe have to close your doors, it is incredibly painful. You feel an enormous burden of responsibility. And I I didn’t take that lightly.
Evan Goldberg: [00:08:29] And, you know, certainly, it provides you motivation for not having that happen again. And I was fortunate enough that at NetSuite, it’s only been sort of the rocket ride up, not the descent back down. But I think that, you know, besides providing that motivation, the experience of being a CEO and being responsible for business and growing the business and learning the sort of dearth of tools that were available to help you, that was the primary motivation of creating NetSuite. I mean, it was abundantly clear that there was not great technology to help small businesses understand what was going on, see the trends, get control of, you know, you’re kind of increasingly sprawling. We used to be small business, but now looks like a giant business when it has 50 people. You know, that lack was so abundantly clear. I knew I had to create something like NetSuite.
Rita Trehan: [00:09:30] And, you know, it’s been a success. But let’s talk about like this whole concept of technology and cloud and everything that goes with it. From artificial intelligence to machine learning, to robotics, to intelligent automated processes. They blow people’s minds. CEOs kind of talk about it. But if we’re honest, most CEOs are yearning to learn what it actually means in practice. Boards of big companies and small companies are tearing their hair out, trying to capture this leverage that they’ve got right now, which they don’t seem to have.
Rita Trehan: [00:10:02] So, you’re kind of a visionary in a way, because you saw the opportunity that what businesses needed was the ability to connect things together. To really be able to provide value was to have this ability to look right across your organization to understand what was going on. Did you realize that you were a visionary at that time? And how can you help? I guess my second question today is how do we help businesses really understand the power of technology in a good way?
Evan Goldberg: [00:10:35] Yeah. Well, I mean, you know, I think it starts with simplicity and understanding that anything that you’re going to provide to a very, very busy entrepreneur has to be simple in some sense and minimalist, I guess you might say. And so, from the very, very beginning, and, you know, the web was still pretty young in 1998, the vision I had was a dashboard like in your browser that had everything about your business. And you could then drill down.
Evan Goldberg: [00:11:12] So, it would show your sales, it would show your expenses, it would show your employees’ information, or, you know, how your employee count was growing. You know, these kind of key metrics right there in front of you in real time. So, I guess if you want to say a visionary, someone that has a vision, I had an actual sort of visual image of what I wanted out of NetSuite. And the interesting thing is that we first had to build the components of the business system.
Evan Goldberg: [00:11:40] We had to build accounting, we had to build CRM, we had to build a web store for people that wanted to sell online. Once we had those, we were able to actually create that dashboard in your browser. There weren’t phones yet that could view those. And it was at that point, actually, that, you know—and Larry, I give him a huge amount of credit. We started the company together. I had this vision of software to help businesses to see. He had the vision of it was going to run on the web.
Evan Goldberg: [00:12:11] And he was absolutely convinced that the future model of computing was going to be that you run these applications on the internet. And he’d joke like, “That’s how it’s gonna be for the next thousand years. I don’t know what it’s going to be after that.” And so, you know, it was kind of the merging of those two visions. So, I was thinking of, you know, one place you could go that had all the information across your business. And he was thinking this would be delivered over the web. So, really, the conjoining of those two ideas was NetSuite. And it’s really in the name.
Rita Trehan: [00:12:48] And yeah. It’s a great way to describe it.
Evan Goldberg: [00:12:49] And so, when we announced that, what we called the Executive Dashboard, which was that one page that you could go to in your browser that had everything about your business, Larry got re-engaged. And he actually became the product manager of that part of the product for several months calling me cause he said, “Okay, now, I want to log into your instance, to your account, so I can see what’s going on in NetSuite. In particular, I want to look at this dashboard.”.
Evan Goldberg: [00:13:15] And he would log in and then, he’d called me and he’d say, “Oh, you need to add a line graph that shows your sales by day compared to previous quarters”, things like that. And, you know, we dutifully add it in and push it out to production. It was easier to get the product of our endeavors to our customers very quickly. And I’d call him and I’d say, “Yeah. Okay. Take a look, see if you like it.” That was actually really exciting-
Rita Trehan: [00:13:40] So, let’s talk about that a little bit. I’m sorry to interrupt. But was that hard to have somebody that was your mentor, you know, who was really passionate about what you were doing, but also kind of getting right into it as well. Like did you, at any point-
Evan Goldberg: [00:13:56] Yeah.
Rita Trehan: [00:13:56] … feel like, “Larry, I love you dearly, but can you just back off for a little while and just let me play with it?”
Evan Goldberg: [00:14:01] No, you know, I relish that. He’s incredibly smart and obviously had been thinking about running a business for far longer than I had. So, to me, it allowed us to move really, really fast in getting that part of our product, which is really still the central kind of the heart of NetSuite. When you log in to NetSuite as an executive or as a manager or even as a salesperson, the first thing you see is that dashboard with everything you need to know and everything you need to do. So, it was absolutely great, you know, the company and the company that we started together, that we were able to collaborate on the need to have that sort of central capability.
Rita Trehan: [00:14:47] So, I want to talk a little bit about you, yourself, and taking the company over those years up until 2016, that you came back into the fold of Oracle, because you’re quite an interesting individual, having read about you. And particularly, around your focus on culture and the things that are important. And that’s often rare to have CEOs actively talk about it. But then, show some visible proof that it actually exists in reality as well, that it’s not just a set of words.
Rita Trehan: [00:15:20] You have been very, very passionate and have shown that commitment in the social impact space as one, which, you know, I hold dear to my heart as well, because I’m a great believer that profit with purpose is good for the world. And we are now faced in a world today and we are seeing CEOs stand up and say, “Hey, we are more than just about making profit. We are about per person. Here’s what we’re doing.”.
Rita Trehan: [00:15:46] But, you know, many people will be sitting back and going, “Yeah, you know, it’s the same old, same old. They realize they’ve got to like say the words”, but you’re different. You’ve actually done some really important things in being able to offer that technology that you have to nonprofits in a way that’s helping those organizations to be really successful. Like what is it in you that drove you to want to do that right at the very early stages? I’m intrigued. Share more.
Evan Goldberg: [00:16:16] Yeah. You know, in culture, primarily grows organically. It’s driven from the top but not really from pronouncements. I mean, I think things like values are really useful, but they don’t really create the culture that they more just report on the culture.
Rita Trehan: [00:16:38] Yeah.
Evan Goldberg: [00:16:39] And the culture comes from the people and who you bring into the organization and how you act as a leader to, you know, set an example. And, you know, I’ve always had, you know, sort of balance in my life between, you know, the professional, the business, and sort of the personal and the philanthropic. And especially, in, you know, where philanthropy and business overlap, I was able to take some of that and bring it into the workplace. And so, for example, our social impact program began because my wife was president of the local PTA. They had a terrible system. They used two copies of QuickBooks, one for donations and one for expenses. I mean, it was ridiculous. And it’s like-
Rita Trehan: [00:17:32] Okay. I’m tearing my hair right now. I’m like, “Ah”, like yes, I can feel their pain.
Evan Goldberg: [00:17:38] Yeah. And so, I said, “Why don’t we put NetSuite in there?” And we did. And it worked out great. I mean, volunteers were able to actually work at home, et cetera. And so, once I saw that, that I said, “Oh, my God, there must be thousands of organizations that could benefit from a system like NetSuite and sort of do good better.” And so, really, you know, bringing that, I think the culture comes from who you bring into the organization and what they bring from outside into the workplace. And so, that’s, I think, how we’ve grown up as NetSuite, to have this culture that really embraces social impact, it’s often described as like a family here. And when we come into a bigger company like Oracle, well, one of the most important things initially in Oracle, is really smart about this, is to just do no harm. And so, we were-
Rita Trehan: [00:18:30] That’s great.
Evan Goldberg: [00:18:30] … just sort of sequestered and allowed to continue to do what we were doing really well and then, start to pull in some of the benefits that come from the bigger company. And I think what’s really exciting about being part of Oracle is that Oracle is undergoing a transformation, I think, in the same way about thinking about the continuum of what employees do and making sure that they are really engaged.
Evan Goldberg: [00:18:58] And that involves a lot of different things, but the social impact of, you know, what the organization does is an important part of it. And so, that’s been really exciting to be part of that sort of evolution that’s happening in a very, very large company. You know, it’s like turning to Queen Mary, but it’s very in sync with what we, you know, as a smaller part, have been focused on all along. It’s a culture which is very employee-centric, in addition to being very customer-centric.
Rita Trehan: [00:19:26] So, I do a lot of work with organizations of all sizes around culture and to convince organizations that culture is important. It’s often really hard because they’re like, “Yeah, right. Yeah. We’ve got it, but, you know, talk to us about like what’s going to make our business more sustainable.” And like I look them in the eye and I go, “That’s it. It’s how you bring together the essence of what makes people want to be there.”.
Rita Trehan: [00:19:50] And you talk about some things around letting people come up with ideas to have the opportunity to create. Like don’t get in the way of helping people to create ideas. Let them have the autonomy that they need to be able to do that, because people will create great ideas in a world today, where we know technology is advancing at a faster rate than it has ever done before, where it is enabling us to do things that we have never been able to do before, where products like NetSuite are enabling companies to kind of bring together some synergies, and identify trends and analytics, inform companies around what they can do to innovate and move forward.
Rita Trehan: [00:20:36] It comes with some price, which could be an opportunity or, you know, a potential risk for organizations. How can we help businesses and employees see the future of the worlds and technology as something that comes together for good? I do believe that it is. And you talked about what we’re seeing today around cloud technology and technology, in general, as not just being a technology shift, which to me is like music to my ears. And you talked about it being a generational shift, that this is a shift in how businesses will continue to operate in the future. How do we leverage the best out of that? Big question, I know, but-
Evan Goldberg: [00:21:19] Yeah.
Rita Trehan: [00:21:19] … like what’s your thought?
Evan Goldberg: [00:21:19] In NetSuite, you know, NetSuite is fundamentally a B2B company. We’re selling to businesses and we’re somewhat insulated from some of the more controversial privacy issues that come from the large, you know, tech companies that serve consumers. And so, that’s something that we just are happy about because there’s a lot of consternation right now. But business is really just sort of drink up what we give them, if they are not conflicted.
Evan Goldberg: [00:21:58] And the AI technology that we bring in, is not about, you know, facial recognition, the AI technology process things like identifying orders that may not ship up on time for customers that deliver products because of the history and because of other things that are going on out in the world or looking at projects if you’re a company that’s a project-based business, like an ad agency, you know, or a consulting company, projects that look like they’re at risk of going over budget because of, you know, trends that we’ve seen.
Evan Goldberg: [00:22:39] So, the AI that we use, I think, is really relatively benign and, you know, agreed upon by the people that own the data that we’re looking at, which is their data that it’s to their benefit. And of course, all of this is opt in and we’re just starting to scratch the surface. I mean, you know, the types of things that AI does that I think are generally uncontroversial are suggestions that gives you on the phone, hopefully, you know, based on relatively simple things, you know, that the phone knows about, so to speak. I hate to have to lower price a phone, but like, “Well, it’s gonna take you longer to get into work today because there’s traffic.”
Rita Trehan: [00:23:26] Yeah.
Evan Goldberg: [00:23:27] And people like that. That’s a relatively benign use of AI. There might be something more sinister behind it, but we believe that those kinds of suggestions for businesses, how you can get someplace a little bit faster or where there might be obstacles to achieving your goals and where we’re going to be right a lot of the time. I mean, one of the things that’s great about those suggestions is when they suggest that there’s traffic on the way to work, well, usually, at this time of day, you are going to work.
Evan Goldberg: [00:23:54] And sure enough, their traffic predictions are usually pretty good. So, that’s what we want to do, is relatively simple assistance. It’s really intelligent assistance that we can give. And we’re confident that those suggestions will be correct most of the time. And we’re just at the very, very early stages of that. But that’s very, very exciting to me as an entrepreneur and, you know, to help other entrepreneurs.
Rita Trehan: [00:24:21] And there’s two things that I want to sort of pick up on that. One is that, you know, yes, you talked about next week being a B2B offering, but actually, you talked about six things when I sort of sat back and reflected on them, I went, “Wow, these are the kinds of words that I use and many people use to help large corporations think that, how do they navigate the world of uncertainty today?”.
Rita Trehan: [00:24:46] You talked about the need for simplicity. We’ve already talked about that. In a world where time is of essence, people are time poor, nobody wants complexity anymore. There’s enough complexity everywhere else. They kind of want things that are simple. And you mentioned that. You talked about agility. That has to be important today, not just for B2B businesses, but businesses at large and nonprofits, just like, you know, organizations that are trying to do good better.
Rita Trehan: [00:25:12] You talked about productivity. We’ve seen productivity levels decline in companies today over the last several years, because there’s only so much they can do around efficiency. So, they have to look at different ways to innovate and change. And you talked about the need like control. You know, how do you keep control, but let go of control? It’s the way I like kind of frame it. I may not framed it in the way that you would, but I’d be interested to hear that.
Rita Trehan: [00:25:36] And the power of visibility. So, they are quite very clear and succinct points that I think are really valuable to businesses. Would you say that those elements have been true as you thought about your business since its beginning? And do they hold true for what you do going forward or are they more advice points that you try to think about from your customers’ perspectives? What would you say?
Evan Goldberg: [00:26:04] Well, you know, there’s two driving factors that lead us to do what we do, you know, it comes from our experience, you know, our personal individual experiences in business. My experiences as an entrepreneur, I grew NetSuite. NetSuite had a growth journey that’s not unlike many of our customers. I learned a lot in that growth journey and I try to bring those learnings into what we offer to businesses.
Evan Goldberg: [00:26:32] And then, you know, true empathy can only come from actually, really doing your best to walk in other people’s shoes. We spend an enormous amount of time with our customers. We send our product engineers out on what we call field trip to go visit customers that are using NetSuite and see their business in action and how NetSuite plays a role, you know, seeing it sort of on the ground. And so, you know, the creativity that comes in building, you know, sort of the next generation of business tools is informed by, you know, sort of those two elements.
Evan Goldberg: [00:27:11] And my experience in building NetSuite and what we hear from our customers when we go out to visit them is that the two most critical—I guess there are really three critical elements. It starts with visibility because that’s what they lose as their business grows. They used to see everything. You know, like you talked about NetSuite being above a hair salon. When we were above a hair salon, everybody was right there next to me.
Evan Goldberg: [00:27:37] I knew everything that was happening. I knew every, you know, salesperson that was selling and every support person that was giving customer support. You lose that visibility as you get larger. And so, that’s the first thing that they want, is to get back some of that visibility that they lost as they grew. The next thing is control. There’s less control as you grow and you don’t know everybody and you don’t talk to everybody. But then, you mentioned agility. And that would be the third, you know, super critical component and one that we’ve especially focused on on NetSuite, because we know that these organizations that we serve are changing very rapidly.
Evan Goldberg: [00:28:12] And whatever we provide as a solution on day one, you know, may not be exactly the right solution a year later, two years later, three years later. So, we built in NetSuite a great deal of flexibility. And as you transform your business, the NetSuite service can transform with you. So, that’s how we have thought about it in the past few years. It’s not dissimilar to how we thought about it initially, but I think it’s evolved based on our experience building NetSuite and our experience, you know, spending time with our customers.
Rita Trehan: [00:28:44] Let’s talk about your customers because you used the word that I confess, I don’t think I can think of one CEO that I’ve heard used the word, I’m sure that they have, I just haven’t heard it, I’ve heard lots of both words around we’re becoming customer-centric or we’re becoming more personalized, but you used the word empathy, like, you know, we are empathetic with our customers. That’s really what drives us. What does that really look like? I’m intrigued. Again, I’m intrigued, I’m fascinated because it’s a term that I go, “Oh”, like it’s already like making me feel warm about what you guys are offering. And it’s unique and it’s different. So, what does that look like for people that work at NetSuite?
Evan Goldberg: [00:29:27] Well, I mean, I would say in one’s work life, empathy is probably the most important skill and practice because I don’t think it’s not just with your customers, but it’s obviously with your coworkers. And so, you know, we’ve tried to build it into the fabric of NetSuite both in our internal operations, as well as how we relate to our external, you know, customers and partners. You know, it displays itself in many different ways.
Evan Goldberg: [00:30:00] In our product organization, as we develop products, we use personas. So, we try to develop a picture of what the typical user of this part of the service is like. And it goes beyond just how they use NetSuite, but what their job duties are, what their frustrations are, what they view as challenges, what they view as opportunities. And then, from those personas, there are user stories, which track, you know, how users operate on their day-to-day and how they want to operate. So, that’s empathy in a sort of product development setting.
Evan Goldberg: [00:30:44] In a customer service setting, the best customer service is, I think, delivered by people that can empathize with, you know, a frustrated caller that’s having a problem. In sales, listening is the number one skill and empathizing with the pain points that brought a prospect to your door and the opportunities, you know, that they feel on a day-to-day basis that they want to take advantage of, I think, is the critical success factor there. So, across our organization, both internally and externally, we’ve tried to build empathy into the fabric of how we operate.
Rita Trehan: [00:31:26] I think I need to be one of your personas because I think I’m like right at that extreme end, will like be that customer that has all of those moments that you really don’t want to see. So, like if you ever need anyone to be a prototype, please do give me a call, because I’m sure I will have ticked every box that you would think is your worst nightmare. I did once offered to go to Microsoft’s offices in Silicon Valley to sit with their customer service team a long, long time ago.
Rita Trehan: [00:31:55] Because I had just this desire for them to understand what it feels like to be a customer on the other end, not because they didn’t want to help, but that I offered my services for free. And they promised they would bring me back and they never did. I wonder why. But there you go. But I think it is a really important point. So, now, I’m going to get onto maybe some stuff like I do like to kind of push the edges a little bit.
Rita Trehan: [00:32:18] So, here you are, you know, a disciple of Oracle, you go out into the big, wide world, you do it, you make it, like you create something that you can sit back, and the people that are in part of that organization are really proud of you. Isn’t there a risk to having gone back to Oracle? That people are sitting there going like, “Why did he do that?” Like, “Why did he go back and take like his baby and put it in a bigger organization?” How do you respond to a question like that?
Evan Goldberg: [00:32:52] You know, one of the things about being part of—you know, Larry was who I started it with, Larry is who I worked very closely with it on now, so there’s been a lot of continuity that you might not have in other circumstance like this. We’ve had great continuity with our organization. As I said, Oracle did this right. And they had a first do no harm sort of approach. And as a result, we’ve been able to preserve our culture and we’ve been able to actually refocus in a lot of ways.
Evan Goldberg: [00:33:24] And I think people that talked to me see the excitement that I have right now and that we’re more targeted towards these very fast growing entrepreneurial organization even than when we were independent. And that’s a big motivator for me. To be able to have a clear target for what you’re doing and then, to be able to, you know, take a team. And most of our team is still at NetSuite. You know, if you look at the people that work for me, they’ve been at NetSuite for 10, 15, even 20 years.
Evan Goldberg: [00:33:57] To take that team and refocus them on a clear target and with a clear value proposition, that’s exciting. So, I think we’ve been able to maintain the excitement that we had before. And then, we’re able to leverage the reach and the technology that Oracle provides us. We’re moving into the Oracle cloud infrastructure data centers. That’s where we’re going to run NetSuite out of in the future. And that’s very advanced technology and it’s really exciting.
Evan Goldberg: [00:34:26] We’re going to use Oracle’s autonomous database, which is an incredible use of AI to make databases how they really should be, which is you just ask it a question and it gives you an answer. You don’t worry about all the details of implementing a database. So, being part of that, being able to reach out internationally and Oracle has incredible reach there, that’s been extremely exciting for us going into countries that we, you know, wouldn’t have reached for years and years as an independent company. So, I think there’s always pluses and minuses to any transition. And I’ve just, you know, focused on accentuating the positive.
Rita Trehan: [00:35:04] And I would say that though for other entrepreneurs that are out there, actually, you could argue that you were very bold and actually demonstrate a skill, which I think many CEOs need today, which is the ability to be able to reflect and not get so absorbed in what they have created, not to lose sight about what the overall purpose or vision of their original idea or concept was. And by actually being part, coming back into the fold of Oracle, you know, that’s not an easy decision to make.
Rita Trehan: [00:35:38] Because ultimately, you created something, but it sounds like you reflected back and said like, “How can I continue that vision and how can I make it bolder, better and have a greater reach?” That’s not easy for entrepreneurs to give up, right? Because it’s there. So, that process that you went through, the weighing up, maybe the struggle is a bold move and a reflective move. Do you think that many entrepreneurs should be thinking about more of that reflectiveness as they grow? Is that something that you’ve grown and developed over the years or do you think that’s something that’s always been part of you?
Evan Goldberg: [00:36:21] Well, you know, I wouldn’t presume to give advice to other entrepreneurs that are-
Rita Trehan: [00:36:26] Oh, go on, go on. Please do.
Evan Goldberg: [00:36:28] … you know, in different situations.
Rita Trehan: [00:36:30] Sure.
Evan Goldberg: [00:36:30] We had a somewhat unique situation. And then, I think in a lot of cases, it isn’t like that. But, you know, a successful acquisition should typically keep the best people. And so, I would hope that organizations that are looking of acquiring entrepreneurial startups are really thinking about how to provide a situation, where that person can still be entrepreneurial, where there’s still good upside for them. And, you know, it doesn’t mean forever. And any entrepreneurs are to have a tendency they come up with great ideas and maybe that great idea can be accomplished at a new organization or a large organization, and maybe it can’t.
Evan Goldberg: [00:37:18] In my circumstance, I kind of feel like we had a very, very big idea that we’re not done with this and that it could still consume most of my creativity and that I’m lucky in that sense, that the job has sort of never done in making organizations have better visibility, have better control, have better agility so that they can grow faster and achieve, you know, their vision. That’s a job that sort of never done. And we have a great platform for that. And if you’re in that situation, I do think it’s worth looking at whether it makes sense to walk away. I mean, for me, NetSuite is sort of my baby. And so, wherever it is-
Rita Trehan: [00:38:07] It’s a growing baby, that it’s growing very healthily.
Evan Goldberg: [00:38:10] … it’s really hard to abandon that. And I think maybe there are entrepreneurs that do that too quickly. But certainly, I am very, very sympathetic to the fact that the situations of acquisitions is not always sane and wise, it was somewhat unique.
Rita Trehan: [00:38:30] Let’s go back a little bit to culture then, because you talked about, you know, something that you feel passionate, but it’s something that I truly believe is the cornerstone to success for companies today and was previously and will continue to be in a world where we can no longer rely on certainty because of the pace of change and everything else that’s going on. So, you mentioned that culture for you involves a number of things around, you know, communicating with people. Like you talked about, your team going out to customer sites so that they can actually see how their work is having an impact. You talked about the importance of diversity.
Rita Trehan: [00:39:11] So, obviously, as a woman who’s been at exec levels in senior organizations and who is passionate about diversity, not just about women, but in its broadest sense, what does that mean to you from a culture perspective? And as a senior exec in today’s business world, how do you get your voice having a greater reach around some of these things that are important around purpose, making sure people feel like they are engaged and contributing the best that they can at work and valuing diversity in its most broadest sense? I do feel senior leaders have a much bigger role to play beyond their own organizations today. What’s your perspective on that?
Evan Goldberg: [00:40:00] Yeah. So, you know, we talked earlier about, you know, elements of creativity and reaching, you know, a variety of different types of businesses. And we do have enormous reach, especially as part of Oracle. And the only way we’re going to succeed is with a diversity of backgrounds and a diversity of experiences, life experiences, business experiences. And so, it’s incredibly important for our business that we have a diverse workforce.
Evan Goldberg: [00:40:37] And it’s work to do that. It’s not something that you can do in one initiative. It requires continuous focus, not just on expanding your recruiting reach, so you can reach nontraditional candidates. Making sure that everybody is trained and things like unconscious bias so that we are very welcoming for people of diverse backgrounds. But then, really, really important is mentoring people from non-traditional backgrounds, as well as, of course, women that come into organizations that may have been majority male.
Evan Goldberg: [00:41:18] And so, you know, Oracle has some great resources for that. For networking and for mentoring, for women and other, you know, traditionally underrepresented groups. And again, it requires something continuous. It doesn’t happen immediately. But you bring a diversity of people, you know, qualified, motivated, energetic people of all backgrounds into an organization, you make sure that the organization is welcoming to them.
Evan Goldberg: [00:41:49] And you make sure that you’re mentoring them so that they, you know, can overcome, you know, roadblocks. That’s how you ultimately develop a diverse leadership team. And that’s the best situation, obviously. Because then, you’re truly leading by example. But that’s a long process that requires a lot of attention and energy. And so, that’s what I try to motivate our teams to do, you know, over and over and over again. And Rome wasn’t built in a day, as the cliche goes.
Rita Trehan: [00:42:24] It does.
Evan Goldberg: [00:42:25] We want to see continuous improvement in diversity and inclusion. And that’s the right thing to do, but it’s also going to massively strengthen the business.
Rita Trehan: [00:42:35] And given that technology is growing so vastly and we know the skills that are so much needed today and tomorrow and in the future, how do we help the young generation see technology as a career that offers so many great opportunities? I was blown away by statistic that you had quoted around the lost value of not having young girls interested in, necessary, technology or having the opportunity to be in employment, something like 13 to 15 trillion dollars. I mean, that just like—speechless, as I am right now.
Evan Goldberg: [00:43:15] Definitely. I would-
Rita Trehan: [00:43:16] Speechless, right? That’s really hard for me, by the way, to be speechless. But, you know, of course, there’s loads of initiatives, but it’s a massive skill gap that we’ve got globally right now when we know what the horizon brings. So, how can we do more to really give opportunities around the world to education around technology?
Evan Goldberg: [00:43:39] Yes. Right. And of course, you know, some of this is outside the purview of any one particular business, but certainly, as an organization, we try to do our part there. Supporting organizations to help with girls or education. I mean, as we said, we have a very substantial social impact program at NetSuite, where we actually give away the service and we give away pro bono work of employees to help implement NetSuite at organizations that are doing things like getting involved in girls education around the world.
Evan Goldberg: [00:44:12] So, that’s one way that, you know, we, as a company, individually can help. And Oracle has some amazing initiatives in that regard also. I think, you know, that’s just one component of what needs to happen. One of the things that I’m most excited about that isn’t directly connected to what, you know, my day job is the advent of online education and the ability for people around the world to close some of that skills gap. People of all backgrounds to close that skills gap. So, that’s another area that I think, you know, countries and organizations can promote to help.
Evan Goldberg: [00:44:56] And, you know, obviously, there’s this massive, massive work that needs to be done. So, you know, they often say, I think, roadblock, local. And so, you know, we try to do our part at NetSuite to make sure that, you know, we have diversity. And then, those women and people of traditionally underrepresented groups that are successful at NetSuite, we give them, you know, opportunities that encourage them to go out into the community. And they can be mentors for the next generation. So, you know, it is individual action. It’s obviously large collective action. And all those things together, you know, when you have a person like Michelle Obama behind it, you know, there should be, you know, very, very serious progress over the coming years.
Rita Trehan: [00:45:42] Well, a whole topic on education is something we could spend a lot of time on. It’s another area of passion and interest of mine. And we should maybe think about that, because I think there’s a whole revolution around education that can be so valuable and where technology can play a role. And execs-
Evan Goldberg: [00:45:56] Yeah. And, you know, just to-.
Rita Trehan: [00:45:57] I mean, it’s massive.
Evan Goldberg: [00:45:58] Just to add onto that, these things that you do as part of your business are things that we need to do as individuals.
Rita Trehan: [00:46:04] Yeah.
Evan Goldberg: [00:46:04] So, my wife and I have supported the computer science program at the school that my daughter went to for middle school and high school. She’s in college now. But early on, it was clear that this school as all girls school didn’t have a sophisticated computer science program, is it really needed? And that was clear to me. And we got together with the administration of school and figured out how we could bring in, you know, a specialist.
Evan Goldberg: [00:46:36] And that we could not only improve the computer science education for girls at the school, but also be, you know, sort of a thought leader for girls schools, but also for all types of schools. And, you know, when I looked at where that school was in terms of its computer science curriculum, I’m like, “Well, jeez, if this school, you know, a Silicon Valley highly funded school filled with the senior people in Silicon Valley, their children.”
Rita Trehan: [00:47:05] Yeah.
Evan Goldberg: [00:47:06] “If this school can figure it out, how is a school in Oakland going to figure out how to teach computer science to their kids?” And what was really gratifying about that effort is that the woman that we brought in as a computer science leader ended up sharing her successes with schools all over California and became a member of a sort of consortium of these teachers thinking about how the learning could be utilized across the state of California. So, that was really, really exciting. And so-
Rita Trehan: [00:47:38] I have a warm glow across my face.
Evan Goldberg: [00:47:39] … you know, I think that there’s things that businesses can do and there’s things that individuals can do.
Rita Trehan: [00:47:41] I have a warm glow across my face because actually, you have put in a nutshell that it’s not necessarily massive big things that are going to make a difference. It’s everybody doing maybe some small things that are gonna really make a difference. And I honestly believe, like we should schedule some time to talk about education because it is a massive topic. And there is so much opportunity. And there is a hunger to apply some of the innovation in thinking that entrepreneurs like yourself and other leaders can bring to what is essentially, you know, our future.
Rita Trehan: [00:48:14] So, a big believer in young people and them carrying the future and forward in a way that will make this world the world that it can be and should be for everyone. So, after a while, she’s like, two questions, one is, you’ve got to tell me about Zen knitting. Come on. Like I have not heard of an organization that really believes in bringing people together and, you know, spending time at work and offering people things that bring them together. And I just want to know, what is Zen knitting because I mean, I want to be part of that.
Evan Goldberg: [00:48:45] Well, I haven’t actually taken that class.
Rita Trehan: [00:48:47] Okay. Anybody from NetSuite, I need to like get him on it.
Evan Goldberg: [00:48:52] Okay. What I can tell you is that, you know, we talked about culture. And I think that bringing people together for, you know, learning things outside their direct job responsibilities, but things that, you know, they might be interested in, I think, is important. And the continuous learning is where the world is going.
Rita Trehan: [00:49:13] Yeah.
Evan Goldberg: [00:49:13] And you spend an enormous amount of time at work. And so, it’s not just Zen knitting that we do. We do Intro to Japanese, Intro to French, Intro to Spanish, we do cooking. I mean, you know, this is obviously a break from work, but it also brings people together from, you know, disparate parts of the organization, they get to meet. And again, you spend so much of your time at work, if, you know, a portion of that time can be used as part of sort of a larger continuous learning, we give, you know, finance classes for retirement financing, things like—I mean, just a whole variety of different things. And I think we can provide, again, for our employees to grow and to learn and to meet and to interact. And so, that’s sort of where Zen knitting falls in our “strategy”.
Rita Trehan: [00:50:11] You do know what you’re going to get from Christmas from a number of people that work at NetSuite now, don’t you? A set of knitting needles and some wool. It’s coming your way. A place near you.
Evan Goldberg: [00:50:21] Really? Like I’d prefer a hat.
Rita Trehan: [00:50:24] Well, you know what you can do, you can take the wall and you can knit it.
Evan Goldberg: [00:50:28] If they could just give me a hat.
Rita Trehan: [00:50:29] No, that’s for you to learn. And then, you can like post it on Instagram and we can all go like-
Evan Goldberg: [00:50:34] Yeah.
Rita Trehan: [00:50:34] … “Yay”, like, you know. All right. So, very last question. This is about Daring To, people that dare to think differently, act differently, do differently. What’s your Daring To, Evan, what would you say? What are you daring to do? Either have done, are going to do, or are doing right now.
Evan Goldberg: [00:50:54] Well, you know, one of the most daring things I did as part of NetSuite was we have a company band. Actually, we have a couple of them. We have a couple of company bands and a couple years ago-
Rita Trehan: [00:51:06] I’m loving it.
Evan Goldberg: [00:51:07] … just we have a user conference with about 10,000 people and it has a gala. And we were in Las Vegas and they decided it would be a good idea to have the company band open for the main act, which was like ludicrous.
Rita Trehan: [00:51:26] Oh, I want to be there.
Evan Goldberg: [00:51:28] And so, I played two songs on the drums. I’m a drummer. That’s my Zen knitting, is Zen drum. And I had to play a couple songs, one by the Red Hot Chili Peppers-
Rita Trehan: [00:51:41] I love them.
Evan Goldberg: [00:51:42] … on the drums in front of something like 5,000 people. And that was definitely one of the most nervous I’ve ever been in my entire life.
Rita Trehan: [00:51:49] I bet that was harder than making the decision about what to do either starting NetSuite or, you know, deciding to go back to the Oracle fold. I bet you that playing that was much harder of a decision to make. So-
Evan Goldberg: [00:52:01] Well, it is funny because there was one song, Creep by Radiohead.
Rita Trehan: [00:52:07] Yeah.
Evan Goldberg: [00:52:07] This was at another one of these performances that had a particular drum fill that was challenging. And I worked on it a ton. And I nailed it. And when the song was over, the band leader, who’s also our head of engineering, said, “Well, Evan worked harder on that drum solo than he did on his keynote address today.” So, I don’t know what he said.
Rita Trehan: [00:52:30] Well, look here, it had the right impact, right? Fabulous story. What a great way to end. So, Evan, if the people want to know more about NetSuite, they want to know more about you, how do they get in touch with you? What, you know, website, Twitter, LinkedIn.
Evan Goldberg: [00:52:46] Well, unsurprisingly, they go to netsuite.com.
Rita Trehan: [00:52:50] And on LinkedIn, will they find you on LinkedIn or-
Evan Goldberg: [00:52:52] They will. They will find me on LinkedIn, I forgot about that. Yeah. I don’t generally use LinkedIn that much-
Rita Trehan: [00:53:00] Okay.
Evan Goldberg: [00:53:00] … so I can’t tell them exactly how to do it. But if you search for Evan Goldberg, there’s at least a chance that they’re going to find me.
Rita Trehan: [00:53:06] You’re going to find him.
Evan Goldberg: [00:53:06] Search for me on Google. You’ll find Seth Rogen’s writing partner for a bunch of his movies. He-
Rita Trehan: [00:53:11] Oh, cool.
Evan Goldberg: [00:53:12] … comes above me, which I’m very happy about.
Rita Trehan: [00:53:13] Wow. Well, if not, just look up drums, Radiohead, and you’re bound to find him. Thank you so much. It’s been a fabulous podcast. I’ve learned so much. And just from what the stories that you have shared and your journey and I know our listeners will as well. And if you want to find out more about Dare Worldwide and what we do in terms of helping businesses from a transformation and technology perspective, then look us up on www.dareworldwide.com.
Rita Trehan: [00:53:43] You can find me on Twitter, @Rita_Trehan. And obviously, you can sign up and listen to Daring To podcasts. So, thank you very much. And look out, my second book is coming out next year and you can always get the second edition of Unleashing Capacity because it’s all about how do we unleash our inner capacity. So, thank you very much, Evan. I really appreciate it. I hope you have a great holiday. And I can’t wait to see that hat that you knit.
Evan Goldberg: [00:54:08] We’ll see about that. But thanks, Rita, for having me. I really enjoyed it.
Rita Trehan: [00:54:11] Okay. Take care.
Outro: [00:54:12] Thanks for listening. Enjoyed the conversation? Make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss out on future episodes of Daring To. Also, check out our website, dareworldwide.com for some great resources around business, in general, leadership, and how to bring about change. See you next time.