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Doing business with Tien Tzuo of Zuora: CMO to CEO

Doing business with Tien Tzuo of Zuora: CMO to CEO

'The best piece of advice was a good mentor of mine pushing me beyond my comfort zone to start a company'

Name and Title: Tien Tzuo, co-founder and CEO of Zuora

Twitter: @TienTzuo

How long have you been in your current role?

I have been the CEO at Zuora since I co-founded the company seven years ago. Prior to that I was with Salesforce for nine years where I held various executive roles including chief strategy officer and chief marketing officer.

What business technology issue is your role focusing on?

Zuora makes it really easy for companies to succeed in the subscription economy. Our technology is flexible and scalable allowing companies to easily price, bill and manage their finance. We also use big data and analytics to give them vital customer insights. All technology and business is after all, about people.

What are your interests away from work?

Having come this far in my career, I try to give back as much as I can. So, I spend time with younger founders and CEOs to help them build their companies. On the personal front, I enjoy hanging out with my daughter. Whatever she wants to do, we go do it.

I admire people who are not afraid to constantly reinvent themselves and their businesses such as Marc Benioff, Reed Hastings and Jeff Bezos.

Tien Tzuo, Zuora

What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?

The best piece of advice was a good mentor of mine pushing me beyond my comfort zone to start Zuora. It was way back in ’07, when I was toying around with ideas. I wasn’t somebody who started his career with the ambition of becoming a CEO. But, I had this idea and knew I’d have to quit my job to become a CEO. I reached out to my mentor and asked, “Do you think I’m ready?” And the response was “You’re absolutely ready.” That was just the push I needed.

Professionally, who do you admire most?

I admire people who are not afraid to constantly reinvent themselves and their businesses such as Marc Benioff, Reed Hastings and Jeff Bezos. Marc has been an inspiration and I’ve learned quite a bit working with him. He’s also a genuinely good person with a very big heart.

How long have you been working in your field? How did you get into your role?

It’s been 25 years now! After graduating from Cornell University with a Bachelors in Electrical Engineering, I got a job at Oracle and was there for six years. Back then, technology wasn’t so big. In fact, no one knew what tech was. I left Oracle to pursue an MBA at Stanford and then joined Salesforce. This is when I saw the beginnings of a world shifting to subscriptions. It was obvious that companies would need new services to help them succeed in this new business model. And in 2007, we started Zuora.

If you weren't working in your field, what would you be doing?

It’s very hard for me to imagine doing anything else. I realised I was passionate about building software when I was in school. I like building things, so I might have pursued architecture.

Can you share one key pointer for keeping abreast of business technology trends?

Always stay curious. As we grow older, we get used to our comfort zone and stop trying out new things. Or maybe that's just my excuse to buy the latest gadgets in the market!

Send news tips and comments to divina_paredes@idg.co.nz

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