August 27, 2019

Interview with Matt Gallatin: Acquisition, SaaS Challenges and Finance’s Opportunity

LinkedIn just acquired his company. Now hear from one veteran tech CFO on how Cleanshelf helped.

Matt Gallatin, a seasoned finance professional and a veteran tech CFO, has worked for a number of successful companies including Drawbridge, OneLogin, ShareThis, Brand.net and Yahoo!.

Matt Gallatin found Cleanshelf four years ago from a LinkedIn ad. He was at OneLogin, the enterprise cloud identity software company, as its first CFO and was swamped. As the company’s first executive finance leader, Matt showed up with bulging list of mission-critical to-dos: developing reporting mechanisms, establishing financial metrics and leading the department.

But the ad caught his eye.

SaaS management was an obvious problem. And while it wouldn’t likely sink the ship if left unaddressed, he saw down the road and recognized the cost, compliance and security significance of unchecked SaaS. Four years and two companies later, Matt has stayed a loyal Cleanshelf customer. His last company, Drawbridge, which uses machine learning and AI to build identity solutions that companies use to complete their views of their customers, was acquired by LinkedIn in May.

In a recent conversation, Matt shared wide-ranging insight on companies’ SaaS problems, finance’s opportunity as a business partner and the role Cleanshelf played in the acquisition.

You’ve worked in the Bay Area for a number of tech companies (Drawbridge, OneLogin, ShareThis, Brand.net and Yahoo!). Tell us about the usual, in-house SaaS reality that had you looking for a solution.

Number one is that people are left to fend for themselves. They’re incentivized to find and use their own tools because there is little admin and oversight. In general, startups and growing tech companies haven’t had a dedicated in-house finance leader. They might use an outsourced CFO or service so there’s no nominally responsible person that’s actually paying attention.

SaaS optimization isn’t often the first thing a leader prioritizes. So why does it matter to find a solution?

“At the start, the marketing team may have four to eight SaaS tools. Not a big deal. But then it compounds.”

I’ll be honest, when I join a company SaaS management isn’t a top-five thing I think about. There are other ‘burn the house down’ type risks. Most of the time, bills are getting paid. But companies have finite capital and I know that the right tools are value accretive, but there’s no tracking or management to prove or sustain this. The marketing team may have four to eight SaaS tools. Not a big deal. But IT has four to eight SaaS tools, and Product has four to eight SaaS tools. Now the problem is compounding.

Did you have a moment when you decided it was finally time to buy?

After the 50th time going through some invoice you begin to wonder, “Are we actually using this?” As well, during the planning and budgeting cycle, it's much easier to have a tool that shows you exactly what you own, what you use and how much you pay. It becomes a forcing function. For many, the alternative is going through every AMEX statement or prepaid line items on the GL.

For a finance leader, what are some of the immediate role benefits from the tool?

It’s nice to move from being the “no” guy, to being seen as an empathetic leader that can facilitate useful decisions. I start by knowing how much we’re spending and having a real-time view of license use across all tools. Then, I can work with department leaders to make fact-based decisions – anchored in real data – on what to do with tools. We are also armed with better insight related to renewals.

Can you share a few practical examples of how Cleanshelf has made a difference across the company?

“We go from having just a dollars perspective to a strategic perspective.”

At one point the company invested in licenses for an online education tool to support employee career advancement. While there were a few rabid consumers, no one else was using it. Cleanshelf gave us the insight that prompted a bigger conversation – beyond just spend management – about what we wanted to invest in. Finance was able to lead the discussion on the efficacy of plans and failures around employee development. We go from having just a dollars perspective to a strategic perspective.

Finally, how was Cleanshelf helpful during Drawbridge’s acquisition by LinkedIn?

Cleanshelf helped us in three main ways.

  1. It gave us credibility. An acquirer wants to know if a target is buttoned up. Their team is trying to see if ‘you have a sense of what you’re spending on stuff.’ Cleanshelf made it easy for us to track spending.
  2. The second, was that we could quickly access material agreements which were required during due diligence. Cleanshelf had us organized so we could access our software agreements and contracts without digging through emails in some inbox. Turning these over quickly smoothed the process.
  3. Finally, it helped clarify synergies. During due diligence, the acquirer’s technology team was able to see what tools could be wound down and over what time period. It also helped them see what applications, including on the R&D side, would be essential post-transition.

For more on how Cleanshelf helps CFOs and finance leaders, reach out to our sales team for a demo or check out the following resources:

About Cleanshelf

Cleanshelf is the leading SaaS spend optimization solution focused exclusively on tracking, controlling, and benchmarking subscription SaaS applications. Cleanshelf’s cloud technologies help companies save up to 30% on their SaaS spending by automatically identifying unused, underused, or unmanaged licenses and subscriptions.

Headquartered in San Francisco, CA, Cleanshelf serves dozens of clients, including Drawbridge, Revinate, Dynamic Signal, Qumulo, and Service Rocket.

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