Jean-Luc Robert founded Kyriba in 2004, after seeing a need for better tools for companies to track their cash flow. The company spun out of French firm XRT, and moved its headquarters to San Diego, where it is growing its local 120-person workforce.
“We feel there is growing demand for this kind of service,” Robert said. “It’s basically the fact that we’re solving for a big issue: How do we manage our cash and liquidity? There’s no SaaS solution for this.”
Robert was in San Diego when he decided to spin out the company. His wife wanted to move back closer to her parents, who were retired in San Diego.
“It was a family-driven event,” he said. “I was supposed to stay for three years.”
Now, nearly 20 years later, Robert is still in San Diego. The company is adding 80 local employees, and renovating a new headquarters in the UTC area.
“Ten years ago, (the office) was not an investment. Now, it’s a big focus. How do we make this more comfortable and build a space where we can work together?” Robert said. “We’re very focused on San Diego as a headquarters. I think it’s a very good choice. We can attract talent.”
Kyriba also has large offices in New York City and Paris. Robert hopes to have 1,000 employees worldwide by the end of the year. In March, the company sold a majority stake to private equity investor Bridgepoint Capital, which valued it at $1.2 billion.
“We have never had any problem raising money. We talked to a few people we knew that run the process,” Robert said.
From his experience raising funding for Kyriba, and his past ventures, Robert recommended that startups focus more on bringing in good investors and less on maximizing their valuation in a given round. He said to be wary of exotic funding structures that can cripple a company later on.
“Don’t try to maximize the amount of money. Just keep a very simple structure,” he said. “It’s so much more important to get money in the bag. It’s what you’re going to do with the product.”
In his work with Kyriba, Robert also had to weigh the decision of whether to go public.
“It was a big question for the last year,” he said.
But Robert wanted to wait, structure the company more and grow its revenues. In the next three to four years, he said, he hopes to grow Kyriba from $150 million to $500 million.
“I think it’s a timing issue. We would prefer to take a little longer. We’ll wait a few years,” he said. “You get a better IPO price. We said no rush, let’s stay focused, raise more money and see where we are.”
This is Robert’s third company. He founded and sold two other Paris-based software companies earlier in his career.