What's the best way to learn about business? According to Sam Spadafora, chairman and CEO of Chordiant Software, it's working with a start-up company. "With start-ups, you reach out and you grab as much as you can handle and grow from there," he says. "Everybody should go through it at least once or twice." Spadafora relished his opportunity to take the helm at Chordiant, his second start-up. He was tapped for the CEO role while he was serving on Chordiant's advisory board, and as CEO and chairman, took the company public. An avid skier and golfer, Spadafora carefully chose Chordiant. "I avoided the CEO role forever," he says. "I saw this as an opportunity to end my career as a CEO because of the confidence I had in the team, many of whom I had worked with in several different companies."
Spadafora's goal is to claim the business to individual space within the enterprise. Chordiant offers a solution that provides a single view of each customer, no matter how they choose to communicate with the enterprise, and a consistent, personalized process for every interaction. "There is this whole other area out there, and that's when you want to reach out and touch that customer directly and not go through a dealer or sales organization," Spadafora says. "Now we're highly focused on some of the biggest enterprises in the world in the financial community and telecommunications. We're teaming with Accenture and EDS and IBM--the biggest names out there who thrive in supporting the financial services marketplace."
Judging by the company's second quarter numbers, which showed net revenues up 151 percent over 2000, the company is well on its way toward meeting its goal. Part of Spadafora's plan was not letting a cooling marketplace hold them up. "When the market started slowing down, we made the decision that we were not going to be drones and sit in the background until things got better--we were going to get very proactive in acquisitions." The company has made four acquisitions and is looking to do more. "They come from all aspects," Spadafora says. "One was a public company, one was a division of a company, one was a pure technology buy."
Spadafora's team is important to him. "My mission here was to make this a great place to work, where people could truly be developed and grow with their career." Spadafora feels he has accomplished this. "We were able to promote internally from a president and COO in the company," he says, "which is always nice. We were able to promote internally to the CTO's role, and the U.S. VP of sales was an internal promotion. I think people look to the company and say that's a company that really grows their people. And we were able to point to a lot of key positions in the company and say that's true."