Ironclad, a startup that helps legal teams manage and coordinate contracts in a digital context, announced the hiring of two new executives today.
For starters, the company is bringing on Leyla Seka as COO. Seka was most recently a partner at Operator Collective, and prior to that spent more than decade at Salesforce, where she helped launch the Salesforce AppExchange. In addition, the company has hired Helen Wang as the company’s first chief financial officer. Wang spent the previous seven years at eBay, most recently as CFO of Global Payments.
Seka, who is also a founder at the Black Venture Institute and on the board of Girls Who Code, says that she had been working with Ironclad in her capacity as an investor, and had known Ironclad CEO and co-founder Jason Boehmig for years. Recently she had been helping him find a new COO and they had a candidate in mind who was waffling about accepting the offer. That’s when she casually dropped the idea about hiring her instead.
“I said to Jason, ‘I don’t understand why someone wouldn’t want to come build a sure thing. I don’t get it.’ And as I said this [I was thinking], ‘Leyla why don’t you build this sure thing. What are you doing?!’ I just really flippantly said something like, ‘I should come help you do this,’” she said.
Boehmig jumped at that idea and the two began a series of meetings to discuss what that would really look like. Seka said she saw something in Ironclad that she wanted to be a part of. That’s a 7 year old software company that has raised $184 million along the way. Today it has 300 employees and 1000 customers. And, more importantly for her, it has the kind of energy she says that she hadn’t seen since her early days at Salesforce when it was a much smaller company than it is today.
What’s more, she admitted that as much as she had enjoyed her time as a venture capitalist, she missed being in the center of building a business. “I realized not only did I miss the work, I missed the community and being part of a company. I derive a lot of value from being with other people and working towards a big goal like that,” she said.
The two came to an agreement over the ensuing months and in a final meeting Boehmig, who has a passion for vinyl records, gave Seka the offer to be COO in a copy of the Grateful Dead’s Live Europe ’72 album.
Wang on the other hand came through a more conventional search as the company was looking for an experienced CFO and she fit the bill. “We ran a search and we had all of these candidates and Helen was clearly the best candidate. So it’s actually interesting to compare the two processes. With Leyla, I wasn’t interviewing COOs. It wasn’t really an open role at the company, but it just kind of organically happened. And here we are,” he said.
Wang says that she approaches the job strategically. “It’s my job is to tell you how much revenue we brought in last month. It’s part of my job to tell you how much something costs, but my job is really helping my operating partners make bigger core decisions faster,” she said. In her view that means “using the P&L (profit and loss statement) as a bit of a North Star to help us make better decisions that will benefit the company, benefit our customers, and ultimately our stakeholders.”
While Boehmig recognizes that unfortunately female executives remain a rarity in Silicon Valley, he sees that blind spot as something that he can take advantage of to bring the best and the brightest into his company. “I’d love to say I’m bringing in Helen and Leyla for some like idealistic reasons, and I’m happy about the idealistic reasons — I believe in this and it’s great — but we’re hiring them because they’re the best in the world at what they do — and they are,” he said.
Wang has been in the position for a couple of months now. Seka, who will remain Chair of the Board of Advisors at Operator Collective, is still in the process of coming and board, a process that should be complete in the coming weeks.