Zuora CEO Tien Tzuo Preaches Cloud Subscription

By Erika Malzberg July 20, 2018

By Alisha Green – Reporter, San Francisco Business Times

Article published on San Francisco Business Times. Read the full article here.

From newspapers to Netflix, signs of an economy increasingly based around a subscription model seem to be everywhere.

But that wasn’t as apparent more than 10 years ago when Tien Tzuo co-founded Zuora, a company that makes cloud-based software for businesses to bill their customers on a subscription basis. Tzuo is no stranger to what it takes to build a trailblazing company from the ground up, having been at Salesforce in its early days of trying to prove a subscription-based approach to software could work.

San Mateo-based Zuora reached a major milestone in its journey as a company with its stock market debut in April. At the end of the first quarter for its current fiscal year, Zuora posted 60 percent year-over-year revenue growth. It now has customers like DocuSign and SurveyMonkey and household names like Ford and General Electric.

Tzuo knows how to spread the message about what he’s trying to achieve with Zuora, too, even co-writing a book, released in June, called Subscribed: Why the subscription model will be your company’s future — and what to do about it.” As he looks to the next 10 years of Zuora, he finds he’s still evangelizing about why the subscription economy is here to stay.

What was the IPO process like for you? It went pretty well. You put work into 10 years of this thing and hope you can continue and get to that IPO milestone.

What is the next milestone? It’s funny, after the IPO you get a lot of questions. The pattern is, “Congratulations! So what’s next?” And the first time I heard that it was like, “What? What’s next? I haven’t really thought about it.” But I kept getting this question. That makes sense. We can’t see that as the end of a milestone. We really have to articulate, now that we’ve reached that milestone, what really is next. If this was the first 10 years, what does the next 10 years look like? So we have all this data now, from talking to customers and talking to some of our partners. We are trying to chart a new course. It is early. We are feeling our way around it and we have some rough signs of the direction we need to take. But in many ways it’s good to feel like a startup again and try to figure out the future.

Read the full article for more from Tien on challenges, opportunities, lessons learned…and what he would be doing if he weren’t CEO for Zuora!

And check out his new bestselling book Subscribed: Why the Subscription Model Will Be Your Company’s Future — And What to Do About It.