Dorsey talks about ExactTarget departure

Scott Dorsey
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There is a transition at the top of ExactTarget.

Former CEO Scott Dorsey says the announcement to leave the tech firm he founded was one that came together quickly last Thursday night when he was in New York City, but the succession plan were he to transition away was something Dorsey and the company's President of Technology and Strategy Scott McCorkle had developed for years.

McCorkle, 48, has been with the company since 2005 and now takes over as CEO.

The businessmen spoke exclusively to Eyewitness News anchor Anne Marie Tiernon.

Could you elaborate on why you are stepping down and what may come next?

Scott Dorsey: It's been an phenomenal 14 years, you know, I just have loved every minute, every minute. When we started ExactTarget, I was 32 and today I'm 46. It's just been an extraordinary experience, it's been one of those experiences that has just exceeded every expectation, just beyond my wildest dreams. We are one year into the integration being a part of and it's just gone incredibly well. It's just really felt like the right time to begin a new chapter personally, but then also for the business. I tell you a great deal of my comfort comes from the relationship that Scott (McCorkle) and I have had. Scott was a very early investor and mentor to me and joined the company full time eight, nine years ago. We've worked arm and arm, really leading the company. Scott has been the driving force behind all of our product and technology vision and direction. We always had an understanding that if it were time for me to transition out of the business, that Scott, if asked, was ready to step up and be my successor and it just felt like the right time to bring all that together. I'm excited to start a new chapter personally, but I'm really excited for the business to start a new chapter as well.

When sold to last summer, did you think this would be the eventual outcome?

Scott Dorsey: I was very open ended and thought first and foremost I wanted to make sure the integration into SalesForce went remarkable well and which it has. In fact, over the last year, we have hired about 500 people, a majority of those jobs here in Indianapolis. Salesforce has just embraced our company and our employees and our culture.

In many ways, the organizational integration is complete but we have a lot of work to do on the technology integration. This is a logical transition point. I have an awesome young family, I have a lot of hobbies and interests. I play golf and tennis and basketball and like to run and what I am excited is about focusing on all of the non-profits that I am a part of that I really haven't had time to spend with. I am still chairman of the Indiana Sports Corporation, super-excited to double down and be more involved with the Sports Corporation. I am on half a dozen other non-profit boards and then just very excited to help young tech entrepreneurs. You know, when you look back on what we have accomplished, we have just had an amazing amount of support from the city and the state and the overall tech community and a chance to pay that back and spend more time with inspiring entrepreneurs will be very rewarding. I am excited to do that. I will be onboard through the end of the summer and even beyond helping Scott and the leadership team and Marc Benioff who is Salesforce CEO. I'm here to help them anyway that I can. I love the company and my legacy will be really how strong ExactTarget performs for years to come and I will be here to help in any way that I can. No question, I will miss the people and, you know, the relationships. We built a remarkable team, we have just incredible people. I like to say the center of gravity for ExactTarget is not me but it's our culture and our team and that is what gives me great confidence that our future is very very bright. But no question I am going to miss it. I am going to miss the people in particular.

Congratulations on getting the nod.

Scott McCorkle: It's very exciting. I love this company like Scott (Dorsey) loves this company and we have worked with such great partners this last decade to build what really one of the most important software companies in the world. The largest, most important brands all around the world use our software and we are growing even faster now that we have over the past several years and that's been incredible. It's a wonderful opportunity. We are going to miss Scott as much as he misses us and we say to each other all the time is what we have created here is bigger than any of us. Our team is so strong, just top to bottom, and we''s a pleasure to lead it, pleasure to be part of it, but what we have here is very special and a very deep team.

When a strong dynamic leader steps away, is there concern that you will lose a little bit of the mojo, that it's not quite what it was. How do you address some of those potential concerns from employees, the community, stockholders and your customers?

Scott McCorkle: Scott (Dorsey) and I have worked as partners for a long time and have been involved in every connections and company meeting. I think folks are used to me and an important part of the company. Scott is not replaceable. We won't try. What has been established here is culture and culture starts at the top. The reason culture is so important is because it will sustain and feed and nurture an organization well beyond any individual.

What would you say are Scott Dorsey's attributes?

Scott McCorkle: There are four things. Scott (Dorsey) is a great entrepreneur. He has created a company of enormous importance. He's a leader. How he leads the company is just incredible, just an amazing job over 14 years. He's a teacher. He leads by teaching. When Scott walks into a room where people are trying to solve a problem, there is an instant feeling of relief. "Scott's here, whatever is happening will be better because Scott is here." And then a friend, you know, Scott has made all of us feel like we are the most important thing he is working with, or talking to, or helping and it's just created this feeling of friendship. It's remarkable what Scott has done here and we are just delighted to be a part of it.

What would you say, in turn, are Scott McCorkle's attributes?

Scott Dorsey: Scott (McCorkle) is a phenomenal leader. He's an extraordinary innovator. Scott has been really been the driving force behind our innovative culture and our product and technology direction and that is super important in any industry, especially with the speed in which digital marketing evolves. Scott also, unlike any executive I've ever worked with, has extraordinary business acumen and technology acumen to be able to meet with very senior executives and marketers and to understand their needs and what they are trying to accomplish and then be able to translate that into software and technology and make that happen. It's an extraordinary gift. Most leaders have maybe the business acumen or the technology acumen but not both and Scott has that in spades. It gives me great comfort in kind of leaving my baby in really capable hands and being really confident about the future.

Will ExactTarget will stay here and keep HQ in Indianapolis or is this change just the next step of dominoes to fall?

Scott McCorkle: The future is bright for Indianapolis we have hired 500 people, the majority in Indianapolis, since being acquired. Our growth is actually accelerating which is exciting and we have a lot more people to hire. We will be hiring a lot more people in Indianapolis This is our headquarters this is the center of gravity for ExactTarget. It will continue to be the center of gravity for ExactTarget and you will see much much more.

Are you looking to consolidate all the different offices into one location in downtown Indianapolis?

Scott McCorkle: We have three buildings downtown. We love urban centers. If you look all around the world we have chosen cities to base our operations. We like the vibrancy, the energy, that comes from being in a city. To have multiple buildings works well, we move around and walk around and it creates a campus-like feel that we really like. We will need more space as we grow. We will always be looking at the alternatives for that space. But our set up in Indy is awesome we really like it.

Do you think we will see this business here 10, 20 years down the road?

Scott Dorsey: Without question, ExactTarget will be a phenomenal company in the Indianapolis community for a long time. We started an ExactTarget Foundation that I'm on the board of and a big part of and I'm super excited to carry that forward because when you look at the example of the Lilly's and the Simons have set, so much of it is not only employee growth but it's also a foundation that gives back for decades to come. Our three pillars have been hunger, education and entrepreneurship and taking entrepreneurial and creative approaches to solving community problems.

Is it hard for you to recruit qualified talent?

Scott McCorkle: The universities in this area are top notch and the kind of technology graduates coming out of those schools are without parallel. You look at the vibrancy of the technology community in Indianapolis it's really pretty good and our ability to attract that talent has been a big part of our success.

What do you see is your biggest challenge?

Scott McCorkle: The innovation here is incredible. We've just been amazingly innovative over the years from Scott (Dorsey) founding the company and his co-founders now is just part of how we operate. Our favorite time of the year is "Connections" - our user conference that we hold here in Indianapolis. It will be even bigger this year. It's where we make our most important announcements, so we are very excited about that energy leading here to September. Technology and software there is just a relentless pace of innovation but we have to listen to our customers, be open-minded. We sometimes refer to having beginners minds. Let's look at what is happening across all other companies and be open to feedback we are getting and understand what we can do better. Understand what we do really well and just keep innovating, I think that is one of the hallmarks of our success. We have a clear charter to build software that digital marketers will use to change the world and that is what we are doing.

Does the departure of key top ExactTarget Executives since the acquisition concern you?

Scott McCorkle: We don't want to see anyone leave, but there will be times when some people do. There will be dozens of companies that grow out of ExactTarget. We do a very good job of keeping the best team in the industry engaged and just it's an wonderful opportunity everybody has. But there will be lot of people who do lots of different things and that's great for the community and it's great for the area. The future couldn't not be better here and the kind of growth that we see will be extraordinary.

We are just getting started. There is so much more work to do, our growth accelerates. We have the most important software in the world. Organizations leverage digital technology of all kinds, to manage their customers. I can't think of anything that would be more important to be focused on. We are the market leader and it's just a very bright future.