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October 10, 2016updated 13 Jan 2017 11:59am

“Who cares what we are worth”: Appian CEO hits back at Unicorn status while looking for IPO and innovation in Paradise Lost

CEO Matt Calkins gives CBR an insight into the company he founded back in 1997.

By Ellie Burns

“We are not for sale so who cares what we are worth,” said Appian CEO Matt Calkins about his company’s recent Unicorn status.

“I don’t take this too seriously, and I don’t think anyone should.  I worry  about customer value and I’ll let someone else decide whether we are a unicorn. I think more important things about Appian is what good we do for our constituents – which is to say customers, partners, employees, stockholders and anyone who follows our example. We have always been optimising for those instead of for valuation.”

CEO Matt Calkins

Matt Calkins has been CEO & Chairman of the Board since founding Appian in 1999.

At the start of the year, an investor in 17-year old Appian awarded the company unicorn status, valuing it at more than $1 billion. However, while other companies would relish such a valuation, Mr Calkins obviously thinks there are more important considerations when it comes to Appian – like a 2017 IPO.

“Appian is looking for a potential IPO next year and most of the banks we are considering as having as our book runners are in fact Appian customers,” Mr Calkins told CBR.

Although the CEO failed to confirm the IPO definitively, saying that they have ‘not committed’ as of yet, “we are behaving as if we are to do it next year.”

IPOs and valuations aside, the CEO’s real enthusiasm lay in how his company is carving out a leadership role in the enterprise application market. Appian, recognized by Gartner as a leader in Business Process Management, provides an application platform billed as the platform for digital transformation. However, trying to pin down what is meant by digital transformation, the CEO admits, is easier said than done.

“We live in an industry which has very little about it that is tangible. I once studied English and I remember reading Paradise Lost and having the professor explain that one of the hallmarks of Paradise Lost is that they never give you anything tangible, there is never a solid thing – IT is so much like this.

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Pinning down the abstract concept of digital transformation, Mr Calkins believes there are two goals every business should have in mind. The first is a faster responsiveness and agility in regards to matching the market, while the second should involve the capability of having a real-time dialogue with the customer.

“Digital transformation is a reminder that we should innovate. A reminder that we shouldn’t be trapped by legacy software and patterns, and a reminder that business occurs differently now and IT should keep up.”


Continue reading to see what the CEO thinks of competitors and ServiceNow

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