By Sascha Konietzke & Paolo Negri, on Nov 7, 2019

Building Contentful’s team for our next chapter

By any measure, 2019 has been a phenomenal year for Contentful, surpassing expectations for growth — repeatedly — as we modernize how content flows in organizations. As pioneers and market leaders in headless CMS, we’re at the forefront of transforming how brands deliver digital experiences. Here’s our progress to date:

  1. We built and released powerful features: for practitioners (rich text, scheduled publishing, tasks, comments), developers (more powerful GraphQL queries, app extensibility), and enterprises (teams, improved user management and SSO provisioning)
  2. More than 2,000 paying customers rely on Contentful to power business-critical content, with a community of over 400,000 users. Our enterprise revenue more than doubled for the third year in a row. We out-performed our 2019 plans, raised our projections mid-year, and we are likely to overachieve our revenue targets again by year end. If we continue on this growth trajectory, we will have the option to become a public company in the not-so-distant future.
  3. To accelerate our efforts, our brilliant team will grow to nearly 300 people by the end of the year across our hubs in Berlin and San Francisco, with new office locations under consideration. Throughout the year, we also added many seasoned professionals to our leadership team.

In 2010, when I developed the first cloud-based and API-first CMS for iPhone apps in my living room (then under a different name), I couldn't have imagined how this headless CMS approach would evolve to completely disrupt and transform the rusty CMS category.

Nearly a decade later, Contentful is powering content for many of the largest and most important organizations in the world, from mission-critical web properties and ecommerce shops, to enterprise-wide content platforms in digital transformation projects. Customers such as Spotify, Urban Outfitters, Aldo Group, Bang & Olufsen, Danone, Intercom, Loblaws and Telus rely on Contentful to serve billions of pieces of content to digital experiences every month—more than 10 times the volume of our nearest headless competitor.
Contentful has become one of the fundamental building blocks for modern digital experiences, and, together with many other services that emerged in the past decade, created a new paradigm for the modern tech stack.

As a founder, my roles and hats changed significantly over the years. What hasn't changed is that in order to achieve Contentful's full potential, I kept recruiting amazing leaders to the team. In Contentful's infancy, Paolo joined as my co-founder and our CTO, and our product and infrastructure wouldn't be what it is today without him. Many more fantastic executives joined over the years to support our growth.

Earlier this year, when interviewing COO candidates, I reflected on my strengths and passions. I considered what it will take for Contentful to continue to achieve its full potential for the next decade and realized that bringing on a CEO with operating experience at the scale Contentful is accelerating toward would be best for the company.

So, in close collaboration with our board of directors, I kicked off an ambitious search for a CEO. Thanks to our team’s amazing work and track record of success, we were able to have conversations with many top-notch candidates. The most important criteria for our CEO was whether they would be a definite win for our customers, partners, employees and investors.

Steve Sloan emerged as the hands-down favorite for Paolo, me, and the rest of our board. Steve is a customer-centric leader who was formerly the Chief Product and Marketing Officer at Twilio Sendgrid. He brings a wealth of additional experience from previous roles at Marketo, AWS and Microsoft. We couldn't be more thrilled to have him join our team as Contentful's new CEO!

Going forward, I will remain an active board member and become Contentful's Chief Strategy Officer. I will focus my time on what I'm most passionate about, which is understanding our customers' challenges with content and digital experiences deeply, to help evolve our vision, strategy and product.

Steve and I sat down this weekend to talk a bit about what excites him about Contentful:

Steve, why did you join Contentful?

I could not be more excited to join the team here at Contentful. I joined for three reasons. The first is that I’ve spent lots of time with developers and marketers in the past few years. Those conversations have helped me understand their challenges and the huge opportunities to help them evolve the digital experiences they create for their customers.

Those conversations made it clear that we are at the beginning of a broader shift in which companies and brands know that the digital experience is frequently the first and dominant customer experience. As a result, they know that it must be engaging and immersive and it must evolve.

Those customers and brands continue to tell me that the tools and technologies that they currently have are not the ones they will need for this new era. As a result, we have a huge market and it is clear that Contentful can help lots of companies evolve how they create the next generation of digital experiences.

The second reason I joined was that I was incredibly impressed with Sascha from our first meeting. While a big market is important, it is equally important to me that there is a very strong alignment of values within the leadership team. So much of what Sascha and Paolo have created and they way they think about and treat team members resonates with the things that are important to me — customer centricity, humility and a growth mindset. Unless these values are baked into the DNA of the company, it is very hard for them to come to life later.

Finally, I signed up for the service and saw the experience from a developer’s viewpoint. As well, I saw what other developers were asking each other on Stack Overflow. It was clear that the team at Contentful has been very thoughtful about the customer experience: everything from the number of steps to a first sign of value, to the tone in the documentation. Once again, that spoke to the customer centric DNA of the company and the foundation from which we can continue to build.

These three factors made me excited to join the company and confident that we can continue to create products and experiences that our customers love and value, and create a place where our team members can be their full selves.

What do you hope to bring from your prior experiences to Contentful?

We certainly want to continue to build on the amazing work that the team has done. I hope to bring a perspective on how to scale effectively to serve more customers around the world. Given the broad market shift in content management, and the large number of customers who are constrained by their existing technology choices, the demand for our technology, services and support will be greater than ever in the coming years.

Steve Sloan, Sascha Konietzke, Paolo Negri

Steve (CEO), Paolo (CTO), and I (Chief Strategy Officer) are very aligned in our vision for Contentful and excited for the massive opportunities ahead. Expect continuity in our future direction as we take Contentful to the next level.

Contentful wouldn't be where we are today without all of your support. So we want to take this moment to thank all of our customers, partners and employees. Together, we're looking forward to this next chapter.

— Paolo, Steve and Sascha

Sascha Konietzke

Founder and Chief Strategy Officer. You can follow Sascha on Twitter.

Paolo Negri

Chief Technology Officer at Contentful @hungryblank