20VC: Okta Founder Frederic Kerrest on Why You Want To Be A Monopolist In A Small Market, The Biggest Challenges in Scaling Okta To IPO and Being a16z’s First Ever Fund Check
Posted on 3rd May 2019 by Harry
Frederic Kerrest is the Founder & COO @ Okta, the independent and neutral platform that securely connects the right people to the right technologies at the right time. To date Frederic has raised over $415m with Okta from some of the best in the business including Doug Leone @ Sequoia, Marc Andreessen @ a16z, a dear friend of the show in Mike Maples @ Floodgate, Aneel Bhusri @ Greylock and Vinod Khosla, just to name a few. Okta IPO’d in April 2017 at a stock price of $17, today they sit at $102. Before founding Okta, Frederic enjoyed roles with Hummer Winblad on the other side of the table as a VC and also at Salesforce and Sun Microsystems on the operations side.
1.) How Frederic came to found the now public Okta having spent time with Salesforce, Sun Microsystems and Hummer Winblad as a VC?
2.) What about an idea makes it worth pursuing and investing in? Does Frederic agree with the advice he was given, “it is 70% market, 20% people and 10% product”? When evaluating a market, what characteristics make for the most attractive markets? How does Frederic think about insertion points into markets? How does he evaluate market adjacencies? Why is it so good to be a monopolist in a small market?
3.) What were some of the hardest times Okta went through? How does Frederic determine the balance between vision and realism? How does Frederic as the leader personally deal with these challenging times? How can a founder determine from their hiring process whether they have product-market fit? What were the key turnings points that contributed to Okta’s success? What did you have to get right to keep scaling?
4.) A little birdy told me there was an amazing story behind the a16z investment, what is that story? How did Frederic meet Marc and Ben and how did his relationship with them evolve over time? When analysing his investor base, where did each add real strategic value? What advice does Frederic give to founders today on the theme of investor selection? What should the core considerations be?
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