Skip to content

Passing the Torch to Hearsay’s New CEO

September 2, 2020

A heartfelt thank you and exciting news for Hearsay’s growth, as I transition to the role of Executive Chairperson! Read on to learn more about Hearsay’s new CEO, Mike Boese.

11 years ago today, Steve Garrity and I founded Hearsay Labs on a belief that the sales profession would get upended by the social graph being created on Facebook– fundamentally disrupting the way customers buy, whom they trust, and how they’d want to stay in touch. We came up with the idea for social selling (along with a few other ideas which didn’t make the cut), hired some friends and their friends, played a lot of ping pong, and wrote code day and night.

Every day was exciting, nerve-racking, unexpected. I’ll never forget the day in early 2011 we stumbled on the need for reg tech. We were in Boston visiting a prospective Fortune 500 customer. Our prospect cut to the chase – she wanted to know whether Hearsay could increase her laptop storage capacity. She turned her computer toward us, and we could see that her desktop was littered with thousands of image files. It turned out that she and her team spent their days manually screenshotting every one of their firm’s thousands of financial advisors’ LinkedIn profiles every hour in order to comply with FINRA advertising rules. Their laptops were literally running out of space. We left stunned and inspired. Once back in California, we went to LinkedIn HQ and pitched them on the need for a compliance API in order to give access to the millions of users in regulated industries who were being blocked. The rest, as they say, is history. We have never stopped building, innovating, and getting inspiration from customers since.

It’s been a thrilling, challenging decade. We’ve helped 170,000 relationship sellers reinvent themselves in the digital era and enabled compliance teams to scale their workload amidst an explosion of digital communications. We’ve raised $50 million and expanded to 22 countries while remaining incredibly capital-efficient due to our industry focus. We created social selling as a category, focused to become an industry cloud, acquired a mobile communications platform, then expanded our charter to last-mile omnichannel engagement to allow our customers to drive outcomes across their full client journey, not just social.

Along the way, I’ve learned countless business, leadership, and life lessons, forged lifelong friendships, and pushed harder, dreamed bigger, and overcome more than I ever thought possible. This last decade has been the journey of a lifetime, and we are just getting started. The first wave of digital transformation in financial services was automation and self-service. Validated by the pandemic, this next wave is about authentic engagement at scale– a category Hearsay has established and will fuel its next chapter of huge growth. As co-founder and CEO, I’ve always done what it takes to make Hearsay successful. Today I’ve decided what Hearsay needs to be successful for the next decade is a new CEO.

Mike and me last week, appropriately socially distanced [photo by Radu Ranga]

Last year, after a decade as CEO, the board and I began looking for the right person to lead Hearsay into its next chapter. With our last-mile engagement category established, platform built, and customers aligning their enterprise transformations, Hearsay had entered a new stage in its evolution which required a new skillset– someone with experience threading and scaling cross-functional processes needed to align our growing number of teams and offices around the world. Our COO  Mike Boese exemplifies these skillsets as well as our company values, and it’s with so much pride and optimism that  I announce he will be our CEO for Hearsay’s next chapter, which I already know will be our biggest yet. I will step into an executive chairwoman role where I can support from the wings.

Let me tell you about him. With his prior experience leading multiple software companies, combined with his humility and “Day 1” hustle, I knew when I met Mike that he was special. Mike studied engineering at the University of Washington and has helped build some of the most important and iconic software companies of our time– Oracle, PeopleSoft, SAP, Taleo. Mike is a former startup founder himself, and has also scaled companies and teams exactly to the next phase of where Hearsay needs to go. Above all, Mike is an incredibly good person, partner, and servant leader deeply committed to our people and customers.

From platform utilization to new deals and customer expansions, our business is outperforming expectations on nearly every metric. Watching how our customers have depended on Hearsay to reassure and guide their customers during the pandemic has given our team a new level of purpose. Thanks to our business performance and Mike’s leadership performance, I know in my heart that the time has come to pass the torch. Our future has never been brighter, and I know the company will flourish under Mike’s stewardship.

What’s next for me? Hearsay will always be my company. As executive chairwoman by day, I’ll be helping Mike advise our customers, codify our team culture, continue building out our leadership team. I’ll stay on full-time for as long as Mike wants, then transition to part-time. That’s the plan for now. Over the next several months, I’ll take some time off to recover from the millions of miles I’ve traveled in the last decade, spend quality time with family, and then figure out what’s next.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to those who have joined and supported me in this startup journey. My initial list was too long to fit in this post, so apologies in advance for this condensed version:

  • To my husband Dan, thank you for supporting me and making sure I remember to eat and sleep. I love being home with you every day and never want to go back to flying 300,000 miles a year.
  • To my son Blake, it has been such a joy to get to know you deeply, read bedtime stories and tuck you in every night. I’m nervous and excited to be Room Parent for your kindergarten class!
  • To our current and former team, customers, investors, partners, supporters, believers, thank you for the opportunity to build together. You should feel proud that the company is bigger and will last longer than any individual person. I’ll cherish my 11 years as CEO working alongside you and will always carry this experience with me in my heart.
  • To my co-founder Steve, chief bottle-washer Pete, grumpy cat Robert, EQ coach Barkis, deal magician Tom, and contrarian Chris Hearsay with the yellow backpack, thanks for energizing me with your fiercely original ideas, continuously challenging my thinking and assumptions, and for your incredible GSD, support, and friendship over many years. I couldn’t have asked for a better band of misfits to be a part of and grow up with in my career.
  • To Bryan, Jon, Patrick, and Frank, thanks for your support through thick and thin, and for pushing me to act boldly and think bigger. In 11 years, never was there a wasted board conversation or meeting. You’ve always come prepared, been on point, and known exactly which parts of the business to push on.

It has been the privilege of a lifetime to serve as Hearsay’s CEO. As scary as this decision feels, I know in my heart I’m doing what’s best for our future. When the stars align, the choice is clear. I love this company, our team, and our customers, and am so excited for the decade ahead!

Clara Shih

Executive Chairperson

A pioneer in the social media industry, Clara developed the first social business application in 2007. Her latest book, The Social Business Imperative, is a Wall Street Journal-featured bestseller. She is a member of the Starbucks board of directors.

Subscribe to our Blog. Get the latest insights and news delivered to your inbox.

Subscribe to Our Blog.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Browse More Articles