M.R. Asks 3 Questions: Troy McAlpin, Founder and CEO, xMatters

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With over 20 years of experience, including his current position as CEO of xMatters, Troy McAlpin has focused on process
automation, strategic initiatives and corporate strategy. Troy’s domain experience includes IT strategy and vertical market expertise including technology, banking, consumer and retail industries.

Prior to founding xMatters, formerly AlarmPoint Systems, Troy managed marketing, sales, development, M&A and financial aspects at two successful start-up companies and also worked at AT&T Solutions and Andersen.
 
While his experience is technical – it was our discussion about an organization’s internal culture and employee development where I really saw Troy’s experience come to light.  
 

M.R. Rangaswami: Tell our readers a little more about xMatters and why you decided the market needed a company like this. 

Troy McAlpin: xMatters is a digital service availability platform that helps enterprises prevent, manage, and resolve IT incidents. Our mission is to help our customers solve technology problems before they become business problems and we want to be known as the application that keeps all digital services available. We believe that interruptions to the flow of work and the customer’s digital experience will always happen. How we plan for, prevent and respond to those interruptions will continue to evolve and change.

We want technical professionals including developers, site reliability engineers, IT operations engineers, customer support technicians and security professionals to depend on xMatters to help them prevent issues from happening by providing intelligence and observability to potential issues, capabilities to attempt automated cures with or without human involvement, to respond and receive guidance for continuous learning and automation of prevention strategies. We essentially boot-strapped xMatters with only $9M in funding which is a pittance for a West Coast SaaS company.

We were delighted in 2018 to announce a $40M round from Goldman Sachs to fuel growth as the market is accelerating digital Incident Response and Management for global enterprises in the financial services, healthcare, transportation, retail and telecommunications industries.

M.R.: In your career, what have you observed working when it comes to organizational culture and it’s impact on employee performance? 

Troy: Prior to founding xMatters, I served as the President and COO of two start-ups and faced many challenges along the way. If I could pick three key things that other business leaders should know it’s the following:

1. Pay attention to culture or you will regret it.

Early on, I let a few successful people convince me that culture wasn’t important and we should take short cuts. That led to inconsistent actions and a lack of attention and we let the culture drift. In an effort to course correct, I held over 50 meetings on culture, met with every employee in groups of four and we worked together to rebuild a healthy culture. We now have a thriving, vibrant culture and I am really proud of our team.

2. Encourage people to grow within the company and outside of it.

I want to ensure that xMatters invests in its people as much as its people invest in the company. We pay for training, conferences, meetups and more. We also established a Personal Progression Program (3P) which encourages personal and professional growth. Grants are awarded for employees and their families.

Employees take advantage of the 3P program to try new activities like glass blowing and woodworking, support local community initiatives or embark on projects that incorporate their entire family. They use it to learn new skills they can use in their careers or in their personal lives. Employees have used 3P funds for projects including: sailing from Hawaii to Vancouver, adopting a special needs child, helping to rescue people from North Korea, learning new skills like woodworking and painting, and running marathons. By encouraging and valuing employee growth, employees in turn, will produce their best work.

3. Don’t be lukewarm – be all in, do what you say.

I lead xMatters under the guiding principles of honesty, acceptance, integrity and respect. It’s important that l not only establish these values, but actively live them each day.

My view is that I will not ask someone to do something I am not willing to do myself. My biggest fear, short of being eaten by a shark, is realizing one day that I was saying one thing but doing another. If I expect my team to work incredibly hard for our customers, to help our fellow xPerts succeed and to uphold the values of the company, then I too need to live it day in and day out.

M.R.: What are you most proud of as it relates to the xMatters business?

Troy: We created a $50M growing SaaS company with nearly no financing early on.

What took our competitors hundreds of millions of dollars in financing, we delivered with $9M (it was harder). Our people, determination and customer focus made the difference. Today, we have 630,000 active paid users and 2.6 million total on the platform. Pretty cool. Our culture is also something I am very proud of at xMatters and what drives me to be a better person and fellow xPert. Over the years I’ve been able to help a number of my fellow xPerts grow dramatically or overcome hardships. I’m most proud when I hear people say, “I have experienced the same culture you said I would experience, I’m shocked. People actually care about me here.” In addition, our customer relationships and our desire to help customers be successful in their growth is also a huge part of our cultural makeup at xMatters.

 

M.R. Rangaswami is the Co-Founder of Sand Hill Group. 

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