It is a short walk along Dublin’s Grand Canal for Eoghan McCabe from his new home in the suburb of Portobello to the headquarters of The Currency in Dublin 2.
It is a warm day, by Irish standards, and we sit on the terrace outside of the office. Dressed in a black long-sleeved t-shirt with black Nike runners, McCabe is slim and looks younger than his 36 years.
McCabe is one of those rarest of things, a co-founder of a business that has reached a $1 billion valuation in under a decade – a so-called unicorn. In June, McCabe stepped back from being chief executive of Intercom to become its chair. This is his first major interview since the change.
Over our lengthy interview, McCabe talks about how Intercom became an extraordinary success story employing 700 people – with annual recurring revenue of over $150 million in its financial year to January 2020.
It has raised over $240 million to-date from angels like Twitter co-founder Biz Stone to Silicon Valley legends such as Kleiner Perkins.
McCabe, who started with a one-way ticket to San Francisco bought with a €2,200 loan from AIB, opens up about the lessons he has learned and where he thinks Intercom can go next.
He also reveals how he has moved back to Dublin after a decade in San Francisco, and why he believes Intercom can be worth far more than its $1 billion valuation. Indeed, he even hints that his role as chair will allow him to explore a secret new project.
McCabe also discusses an array of angel investments he has made, a controversy he faced last year, and what he thinks Ireland can do to encourage more entrepreneurship.
The last time I met Eoghan McCabe was in February 2015. I was working at The Irish Times and the business had been on my radar since 2014, when John Collins quit the paper where he’d been a junior editor to take up a job in Intercom.
At the time leaving the paper of record to join a startup to edit its blog was seen as a bonkers move. Collins, however, bought into McCabe’s vision. Intercom had just raised $23 million in a Series B round led by Bessemer Venture Partners, a firm that had previously backed Skype, LinkedIn and Pinterest.
When I cold emailed McCabe in San Francisco asking for an interview, the company was becoming a big deal in Ireland but still a minnow in West coast terms. We met in Intercom’s then crammed office in Battery Street in the financial district of San Francisco.
One thing McCabe said in this first interview stuck with me: “Would I love to build a billion-dollar business? Absolutely, it’s the only reason I’m doing this. Does it have the potential? Yes, absolutely. But it’s tough. It’s so hard. It’s so, so, so, so, so, so hard.”
Now here we were five years later. McCabe had executed on what he said, and led Intercom to a $1.2 billion valuation within three years when, in March 2018, the business raised $125 million in a round led by Kleiner Perkins. The round also included Google Ventures.
McCabe hasn’t changed that much since we last spoke. There is a little less of Dublin in his accent, but he still has that striking ambition, and an ability to tell an engaging story.
“We were about 70 people then and we are 700 now so there has been massive growth,” McCabe tells me. “Revenue would have grown substantially more than that. The size of the company today is 10X.”
How did you do it? “So much more is possible if you just don’t limit yourself,” McCabe said. “At the very start, my pitch in 2011 to my co-founders was one day we would be worth $50 million.
“I didn’t believe it myself. It was only a couple of years in when we saw it was bigger. I realised we just needed to think bigger and so much more is possible.
“At this point I don’t fundamentally disbelieve that building a $100 billion company is substantially harder than building a $10 billion company. I really think that a big component of how big you can grow is just the scale of ambition.
“Of course, there is luck and there is hard work and there is talent and everything else but that is perhaps one of the biggest lessons.”
2011: year zero for Intercom
In its first year, Intercom gave away its product for free. Its founders had made a little money from selling a bug tracking tool called Exceptional, which was a spin out of their design consultancy called Contrast. This paid the bills. Later, they tapped up some angel investors like Conor Stanley in a $1 million seed round.
Intercom burned through this cash as it tried to perfect its mission to “make internet business personal” – the plan was to figure out how to monetise its ideas once it proved people wanted them.
McCabe has a computer science degree from Trinity College Dublin, and his skills were in product design and strategy. Early on McCabe, the youngest of Intercom’s four founders established himself as the leader of the business.
He was the one prepared to up-sticks and move to San Francisco to raise the finance Intercom would need to keep growing, and to make the hires required to build a North American business.
McCabe’s fellow co-founders Des Traynor, Ciaran Lee and David Barrett all had computer science and engineering backgrounds. They were, and are, all important parts of the story, but McCabe had the entrepreneurial X-factor.
Traynor was studying for a PhD in software engineering in Maynooth and looked set for a career in academia before he dropped out to become an entrepreneur. He brought his intellectual heft to what Intercom was trying to do.
Lee had seemed destined for a sports career as a champion skier who started in Kilternan at the age of two, but he too had gotten the business bug after working as lead engineer on Ratemyarea, a kind of location-based web directory for businesses. Lee brought the same competitive skills to the table that he had in sport.
Barrett, meanwhile, was an experienced developer who had run his own design agency. All four founders’ abilities would be stretched to create Intercom, but when it came to the business side of Intercom, McCabe was in charge.
As the years went on the level of sophistication of how Intercom fulfilled its mission increased, and it added to its senior team.
Its first big insight was to build a business messenger product to make communication more efficient and friendly than just sending emails or trying to ring people on the phone.
It came up with its business messenger in the same year, 2011, that Facebook launched its messenger apps, Apple rolled out iMessage, Whatsapp did its series A and Snapchat was founded. Each of these products became a household name rapidly.
Outside a few internet aficionados in 2011, however, nobody noticed Intercom. Not yet.
Starting at the bottom
Over time, Intercom has gradually added more services; out of this came an ecosystem of apps and integrations to help sales, marketing and support teams.
Over the years too it added bots and Artificial Intelligence to help internet enterprises communicate with customers at scale. It employs hundreds of engineers to refine its offering, turning the business from a product that was used by in-the-know online small businesses to being trusted by Fortune 500 companies backed by heavyweight institutional investors.
“In terms of people we have helped connect, it is in the billions. A very, very large fraction of the population of the internet has used Intercom in very recent times,” he said.
Intercom is about to make another product step-change, but we’ll talk about that later.
“We started at the bottom of the market,” McCabe explained. “It was a company of one or two people. It was people in their bedrooms and that is a tried and true approach for all and every disruptive company or technology.
“It is the people who are not set in their ways, who have little to lose because they don’t have a tonne of revenue. They are themselves the innovators and the early adopters.
“They are most ready to grasp onto the new and the shiny and the different. The big companies are risk-averse. They move slow. You can lose your job if you make the wrong decision. A one per cent decrease in revenue is a disaster and worth millions.
“For any would-be disruptive company, they are well-advised to start simple, start small, sell to the little folks and move up.
“Our idea was always that there has got to be a better way for customers and businesses to connect and email is not it.
“In the early days it was little companies that adopted it but now you are seeing the biggest companies in the industry and the biggest vendors in software – the Zendesks and the Salesforces all realising that messaging is the future. Messaging is how people want to work, connect and do business online.”
About a week ago Stan Massueras, a senior director of sales and partnerships in Intercom, put up a LinkedIn post. “I am super proud to see Amazon using our ChatBot technology to onboard their customers at scale,” he said. Amazon is the world’s largest online retailer, and, with a market capitalisation of $1.6 trillion it is impossible to get further from Intercom’s early years working with tiny enterprises.
Intercom now also works with big names like Facebook and Lyft as well as 30,000 other customers. McCabe said a big achievement for Intercom was breaking through to being trusted by big companies outside tech.
“We are working with a bunch of banks I can’t name. Very innovative banks. A really big digital Brazilian bank and some of the disruptive banks in Europe use us too,” he said.
“In terms of people we have helped connect, it is in the billions. A very, very large fraction of the population of the internet has used Intercom in very recent times,” he said.
“For us, an IPO is not a milestone in and of itself. It is not a hard target. We are very happy to be private. We are comfortable with it.”Eoghan McCabe
None of the founders of Intercom had a marketing product background. It would be several years into the business before it dedicated resources to this area. Intercom has since ploughed millions into marketing, creating not just its popular blog but also publishing books and, pre Covid-19, hosting events around the world.
“Really great businesses build a great product for a great market. Part of the challenge is building what someone wants and helping them understand that they want it,” McCabe said.
“The best marketing is building a really bright bold product that really captures people’s imaginations.
“Once you have found your feet with those early adopters and those early folks not only do you validate the technology… you understand the market more and know how to tell your story.
“In general, you are best served to develop your product and your market before you start to communicate to the broader audience.”
McCabe said a “magical” thing for any start-up was when suddenly it found people it didn’t know directly using its product.
“It is at that point you think holy shit ‘what we have got here is valuable to so many more people than those early folks,’” McCabe said. “That’s when you start putting the effort into reaching them and marketing.
“My philosophy was let’s earn the attention of the market by investing in content they want to hear. Most newsletters and ads and billboards are eyesores and distractions. We said ‘listen we can create marketing that people will request from us’. I made a rule that we were going to keep ourselves honest by requiring that they pay us for our marketing. You have to buy our books and buy tickets to our events.
“We would give it all away to charity so it wasn’t a revenue source, but the point was our content and our advertising had to be valuable.”
Eoghan McCabe stepped down as chief executive of Intercom in July to become its chair. His replacement Karen Peacock joined the company as chief operations officer in May 2017. She sits on the board of Dropbox and previously ran a division of Intuit, which had $2.5 billion in sales.
Intercom has also recently appointed a chief financial officer called Dan Griggs, who previously took Rocket Fuel public. Techcrunch speculated after Griggs’ appointment that Intercom was preparing for an IPO.
There has been similar speculation about Intercom for years now. I ask McCabe first about his decision to step back as chief executive.
“I hired Karen as COO three years ago and a bit,” McCabe said. “Part of the pitch was that if all goes well, I would really like you to become the CEO someday. I did imagine that the chairman role would be the right place eventually.
“Basically, at the start of the year, the stars aligned. We had just completed this big upmarket pivot which was an 18-month project. Pricing. New approach. New sales teams.
“We executed this massive pivot and at the start of the year it had just started to pay-off,” McCabe said. “So, the time was right. And then the pandemic put everything on pause for a few months as we reacted to that.
“We pulled the trigger around April. Announced it in June. Ten years [with Intercom] just felt right also. It felt like a good number.”
Intercom shed 6 per cent of its workforce in May after a tough two months, but the business is now back hiring. Its pivot towards longer contracts with bigger businesses had paid off. “Down market is a really good place to start but it can be volatile because people are paying you month to month and small companies can go out of business,” McCabe said.
“When you work with bigger businesses based on multi-year contracts there is a lot more stability. You know more about what your revenue will look like and it puts you in a position to go public if you want to go public or just really start to plan better.”
Over the years, speculation has ebbed and flowed that Intercom is planning to float on the stock market in the United States. The company has periodically hinted it was going to, but not pulled the trigger.
Huge businesses like SpaceX and Stripe have stayed privately funded, while others like Qualtrics, an experience management company, built an $8 billion business before selling out to listed SAP.
Is the stock market still a long-term goal?
“I think what really has changed things when considering when to sell the company or go public is the ability now for founders to be able to take some money off the table and sell their stock privately,” McCabe said.
“In the old days, over a decade ago, there would be founders of very wealthy companies who were personally only scraping by… and that forced them to take some decisions that are not long term and not that strategic or smart.
“For us, an IPO is not a milestone in and of itself. It is not a hard target. We are very happy to be private. We are comfortable with it. But going public tends to be still the best way to get liquidity to early investors and staff so is the default path. It is as such something we will consider. We will make sure that in a couple of years we can do it if it is right for the business.”
Would you float in the next two years? “There is no rush and there is no urgency. We are not about to do it extremely soon.”
McCabe has spent a decade flat out on Intercom, and he is still only 36. Does he see himself spending the next 10 years with the company?
“The chairman role allows me to stay involved and be part of the adventure and help in a strategic way without taking up as much of my own time [as being CEO],” he replied. “And as such, I really want to be involved long term. I love what we are doing and the people so I do see myself involved long term.”
Does McCabe think Intercom has what it takes to become a decacorn or $10 billion company?
“It is a good time for the business. We felt the pinch in March and April like everyone else. But this new time has definitely shown more than ever that the future is online. Our whole thing is about serving online businesses,” he said.
“Everything I have told you about that Intercom has done so far is not the end. It is just the first chapter. You are going to see us break new ground for the next 10 years.Eoghan McCabe
“We are doing well as a business and as such you will see that reflected in the valuation.”
What impact did Covid-19 have on Intercom? “In March and April there was a shock to the system and our small customers tightened their belts. The big customers stayed. We continued to hit all of our core metrics but there was a softening on the small customer side,” McCabe said.
“Interestingly, that recovered in the last couple of months. I think in the May and April period everybody got really scared and they tried to proactively save money even if they weren’t seeing the impact of Covid-19 on their own business.”
All of Intercom’s team are currently working from home. The business is based in Dublin in the former headquarters of Anglo Irish Bank on St Stephens Green. In December it signed an 18-year lease to take over a 113,000 sq ft new building called the Cadenza building near the National Concert Hall in Dublin 2.
Will Intercom move in? “We don’t have to. But we will have a big office that will be empty if we don’t.”
McCabe said there were pluses-and-minuses to working from home: “In the future, we will have hybrid ways of working and at present, we are not going to require the team to return to the office until at least the end of the year. Long term Karen will decide it but I expect that we and a lot of others will have a lot more flexibility in how we work.”
“I found SF a bit limiting and I find Ireland now freeing”
Eoghan McCabe moved to San Francisco full-time nearly a decade ago. Our conversation turns to Trump’s America, and it is clear he is disillusioned like so many. “I love the United States and what it stands for. It stands for self-determination. All is possible. Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps,” he said.
“The United States is a phenomenal place and long may it last and thrive. But right now it is really scary and really messy and it wasn’t as fun to be in.
“I think that represents a really big opportunity for us. I am not an Ireland Inc cheerleader, but I am really proud to be Irish.”
McCabe said that Ireland had a unique opportunity because of a shared social cohesion that was not seen as much in our nearest neighbours.
“We have come so far in ten years and we are on a trajectory that the next ten years could be even more brilliant and brighter.”
“What does next-generation capitalism look like? I would love to see us do two things. One is lean in aggressively to growth. I would love to see tax breaks for people who start companies. Right now, we are not as competitive as the US.
“I would love to see us take a large chunk of our sovereign wealth fund and match it with private investment on terms that international investors would back.
“We need to do what the UK and especially the US has not been great at which is to take care of our people. Capitalism 2.0 could be great wealth with a heart that spreads it around a little,” McCabe said.
“I would love to see us look at universal basic income, new ways of taking care of people. Set the bar for greater education and healthcare, great arts and culture, because what I wouldn’t want to see is Ireland get so rich that it pushed out people who were not in the fast lane. I guess what I am saying is…we can step up.”
McCabe now finds himself back where he started living in Dublin for the last few months.
“It was scary and isolating leaving [for San Francisco originally] and I had a lot to learn but it was also thrilling and liberating,” he recalled.
Ireland was in the middle of an EU-IMF bailout, so McCabe was far from the only one emigrating.
“Wealth in the Celtic Tiger days was highly leveraged,” McCabe recalled. “The way that people thought and what they spent money on was a little shallow in my personal opinion.
“I was excited to go to a pace which was different. People thought a lot bigger. They were trying to work on things that mattered. They weren’t trying to show off their wealth. It was such a great place to start a company, find the right talent, finance, everything else that we needed.
“Now I am back in Ireland, I see a similar version of what I saw over there,” McCabe said. “San Francisco is just this beautiful place. It is exciting. It is just amazing. But it is also very homogenous. I was excited to come back to see and find a new type of liberation and say wow there are so many different types of people here.
“Now in Dublin people have made money here the hard way. Their wealth is real. That didn’t exist as much ten years ago. There is a vibrancy being created whether it is in street art or the actual art industry.
“I am here for this next phase because I felt I needed to expand my horizons… I have new things I am thinking about. I found SF a bit limiting and I find Ireland now freeing.
“What I have learned about money is that a lot of people don’t like to admit that they are quite motivated by it. I have never met someone in business who is not very excited to make a lot of money.”Eoghan McCabe
“When I started Intercom ten years ago, I really didn’t think we could achieve what we did. We have created something with great financial scale. Hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue and over one billion dollars in financial valuation.
“Strategically we have changed the whole industry both in terms of the big companies like Amazon and Facebook and all these big banks and airlines and everyone else using messaging and wanting to do what we invented.
“All of the big players in this space – Zendesk and Salesforce – are copying us and trying to compete with us. Intercom was just this tremendous success and really hard to pull myself away from. The easy thing to do would actually be to stay there [as CEO] for another ten years and enjoy that.
“Everything I have told you about that Intercom has done so far is not the end. It is just the first chapter. You are going to see us break new ground for the next 10 years.
“At the same time, I felt called to something new. This is a new strategic role for me where I don’t have day to day responsibilities,” McCabe said. So what’s next? “Too soon to talk about that.”
A new startup? “It is too soon to talk about that.”
Venture capital? “I would never say never but it is probably not how I am going to spend my time in Ireland. There are new people of my generation who will be setting up funds here. Not only will there be more money available locally, but increasingly international funds will be investing here.
“It is happening already. You can raise money from the Valley and not be based over there now. You couldn’t do that when I started.”
“I never found a lot of satisfaction in having a lot of money but I became increasingly excited about the people I could help”
Eoghan McCabe admits that he has taken money off the table “in the past a couple of times.” How much? “I don’t think we have ever shared that but plenty,” he laughs. McCabe said when he first went to San Francisco he got a loan of €2,200 from AIB to pay for his one-way flights and initial accommodation. He is not sure if he ever paid the loan back. “I lost all contact with my bank, and I hope I did pay off that loan!” he laughs. “It was very, very humble in the early days.”
Intercom, like most start-ups, fretted about paydays and paying its bills. It made McCabe appreciate success when it eventually came. “What I have learned about money is that a lot of people don’t like to admit that they are quite motivated by it. I have never met someone in business who is not very excited to make a lot of money.
“And what matters is what you do with it. For me money is exciting because it is a resource that I can put to ever greater use: towards my passions and the things I really care about. I make sure I have the latest phone but so do a lot of people. I have an Apple watch. That is a nice thing.
“I never found a lot of satisfaction in having a lot of money but I became increasingly excited about the people I could help and the scale of their ambitions and the way that we could grow and what I wanted out of my life and what I could achieve with those resources. Money did change my frame of mind.”
About six years ago, reports started to surface of Eoghan McCabe and Des Traynor investing in other businesses. Up until then, all of the founders of Intercom hadn’t had much money. But as Intercom raised millions, they were able to take money off the table. McCabe was mixing with up-and-coming founders, and rather than just giving advice, he was also now able to become a prolific angel investor.
As The Currency reported last October when Shane Curran turned up as 19-year-old raising money for Evervault, he found a champion in McCabe. It was McCabe who introduced him to Kleiner Perkins, one of Silicon Valley’s most famous firms. Kleiner Perkins ended up investing in Evervault’s $3.2 million round, as did McCabe as an angel investor. I ask McCabe about backing the next generation of tech entrepreneurs.
“There are dozens of companies I have invested in now,” McCabe said. “They are pretty much all technology, and they kind of run the gambit.”
What do you look for when investing? “It just comes down to intuition, and something that just gets me kind of excited,” he said.
“I am not investing for personal gains per se. I have taken plenty of money off the table but still, the vast majority of my net worth is in Intercom. That is my high-risk asset. I am really investing in companies to be part of the adventure and the fun. The profile is just people I love.”
McCabe said he had backed Jin Stedge, the cofounder of TrueNorth, because he knew her from when she was a business operations manager in Intercom. “She is a really tenacious person,” he said. “She will never listen to anyone who wants to try and put her down.”
TrueNorth is a next-generation trucking company, which raised $3 million in April 2020, from investors including Kevin Lin, the cofounder of video game streaming company Twitch, which was bought by Amazon for almost $1 billion in 2014.
“Then there are companies where the product is just so phenomenal. When a product really stands out and the details and everything is considered you just know they can screw up so many things and they will still earn a bright brilliant future in the market,” McCabe said.
He said he had invested in Figma, a design software company, and Notion, a tool that blends various workday apps into one, because he loved their products. These are serious businesses. Notion today has over four million users and in April 2020 it raised a new funding round at a $2 billion valuation. Figma raised $50 million in April 2020 in a Series D round led by Andreesen Horowitz.
“Then there are companies that are just so wacky and crazy. They are just so silly I think I’ll go for it,” McCabe said.
McCabe said he had invested in Cameo, a site that allows celebrities to send personalised messages to fans for a small fee. “You could get, say, Snoop Dog to say happy birthday,” McCabe explained. “It’s that type of stuff.”
“I don’t believe in communism. I find that to be chaotic. That is where a lot of friction comes from.”Eoghan McCabe
The site has signed up thousands of celebrities ranging from sports stars to Oscar winners who have been put out of work by Covid-19. McCabe has also invested in ZeroDown, a property start-up which allows you to try your new home by renting it first before committing to purchase. “The business was founded by an amazing guy called Abhijeet Dwivedi. He is a brilliant Indian guy in the Bay Area,” McCabe said.
“Then there are companies where their trajectories are so extraordinary…that you have to invest if you get given the chance,” he said. “I got a chance to invest in SpaceX and Stripe. I am like ‘Alright, take my money.’ They are amazing and incredible.
“I don’t like that phrase or say it lightly, but SpaceX is a company that is changing the world. It is shocking seeing what it is trying to do.”
Now that McCabe is based in Dublin will he look more at investing in Irish start-ups?
“What happens happens,” he replied. “I started very young in business. At 16, I was working for myself so I am 20 years in business now. I want to help other founders, so maybe. If there are people here and it makes sense.”
McCabe himself knows better than most what it is like to pitch for investment.
Famously McCabe emailed Biz Stone, a co-founder of Twitter, and convinced him over a beer to invest in Intercom in its early days. “Biz is old school classic Silicon Valley,” McCabe said. “What does that mean? It means that even when I first met him and he was the founder of the hottest startup full stop…He made time for a nobody.
“I think that has happened in the valley for decades. It is an example of the openness and opportunity that is there.” McCabe said he was still friendly with Stone all these years later.
Does he now know other big names in tech? “I have got to meet Marc Benioff (CEO of Salesforce) a number of times. It is really cool to get to see some of these larger than life characters and see what makes them tick and to learn from them.
“Marc is brilliant, and he is a hero and someone I look up to. But also just some guy.”
In May 2019 The Information, a digital business publisher focusing on Silicon Valley, published an article with the headline “Harassment allegations against Intercom CEO sparked departures.” The alleged incidents had occurred between 2014 and 2015. It was a story based on anonymous sources who described alleged inappropriate behaviour on nights out by a 29/30 year old tech founder.
Intercom had looked into the allegations previously, both internally and externally, and McCabe had been cleared of wrongdoing. Now the story had resurfaced, unexpectedly, years later.
Intercom was now a high profile $1 billion business, so the story unsurprisingly blew up. The board of Intercom decided to launch a fresh investigation. McCabe meanwhile issued a public apology. “In the early years of the company I demonstrated some poor judgment,” he said. “I apologised at the time and have matured as a person and a CEO since then. I’m proud of the respectful culture we’ve built and have long believed that people do their best work when they feel truly happy and safe. I fully support the independent review into these matters and our HR practices.”
Traynor and Peacock also spoke publicly in his support. I ask McCabe directly about this investigation. “Look…there wasn’t a lot of truth to the article, which is why we all wanted it independently investigated, which it was,” he said. “Based on those findings the board supported me unanimously and in full.”
I ask McCabe a second time, basically the same question. “It is really all I have to say about that,” he said.
Intercom was founded in August 2011 by four friends. Three of them are still with the business all these years later. How did they manage to stick together? “The secret to our success actually lies in the period before Intercom actually,” McCabe said. “So that was when then the relationships got tested.”
The challenges faced trying to run earlier businesses stood to them. “We had been through hard bits together, which a lot of founders don’t do. They can jump straight into business with strangers. Sometimes you have to, to get going, but we already had a huge kind of mutual respect and understanding that was a big part of our secret,” McCabe said. “Another part of the secret too was that there was a central person who was the leader who could make decisive decisions; who could keep everyone aligned and pointed in the right direction. I don’t know how people do it otherwise.”
So, your co-founders accepted you as CEO? “Exactly. I don’t believe in communism. I find that to be chaotic. That is where a lot of friction comes from. I also think there is a lot of luck involved (with co-founders). Over the years it has been really cool to see the business grow and people move on in their lives and do different stuff.”
Along the way, there have been repeated rumours of bidders trying to acquire Intercom, including a few years ago Salesforce. McCabe won’t specifically comment on approaches, so I ask him how has he been able to turn down increasingly large cheques?
“What is really important is that when you have a private conviction that is not reflected in the market you know that you need to hold on and stay the course,” McCabe said. “When you have a mission and something far greater to fight for and feel you have only scratched the surface…if you have a certain belief in yourselves and you know you would be disappointed if you sold short.”
“This is age-old investing advice and there is no right or wrong answer. It really comes down to do with if you have more faith in the damn thing then is reflected in the cheque? If you do, don’t pick up the cheque.”
Where is Intercom going to go next product-wise? “We are very excited to lean into the customer support space. If you look at most businesses online it is a little crappy for the customer,” McCabe said.
“It is hard to get in touch with someone. It is slow. It just doesn’t really work at internet scale. We are building the next generation of technology to start to compete with the likes of Zendesk, ServiceNow and Service Cloud which is being built by Salesforce. We are actually stealing customers from all of those people.”
“We are passionate about helping businesses connect with customers in all use cases,” he added. “We could get excited in so many areas but we have to pick our battles. The big battle we have taken on next is customer support. We really changed that space when people pivoted away from email to chat. Now you are going to see us reinvent that all over again with a couple of big releases.”
“We are used a lot by a lot of industries. It is so big it is mind blowing. When I was raising money for Intercom in 2011 I was told repeatedly that people would not invest in the business because it is impossible to build a $100 million dollar revenue company selling to small businesses. That was shown to be factually untrue.”
“We built a $100 million revenue business from small businesses. People did not realise then just how big the internet and the marketplace for our technologies could be,” he said. “They still don’t realise it.”
McCabe is still enthusiastic about Intercom. The night before our interview he said he met Lee for a beer.
“Every time we talk about Intercom I am back in. I am still very excited about it. That just won’t stop but I now have some space for what comes next.”