Featured, Unique Global Influencers

Therese Tucker: Blazing a Trail as a Female Tech CEO

Posted on Friday, June 8th, 2018 at 9:27 am

Therese Tucker believes in her dreams. In October of 2016, the chair, founder, and CEO of BlackLine made history – and $140 million – when she took her tech company public.

Staying in the Black

Tucker founded BlackLine, a cloud accounting software company, in 2001. However, it was not an easy road from founding to IPO. Along the way, she had to fund the company herself, admitting there were “some very difficult times.” Referring to the period from 2001 to 2005, she says, “It was difficult and humiliating and scary. I thought, ‘Oh my god, I’m going to be a woman in my 40s who’s bankrupt and starting over.”

The turning point came in 2007, when Tucker and her team went from making software to selling the service exclusively through the cloud. “It was a very scary decision back then,” she admits.

Even though the decision was scary, it ultimately proved to be right. However, it wasn’t until 2013 – a mere three years before she took BlackLine public – that the company started making money beyond what Tucker was pumping into her dream.

She stuck with that dream, and was rewarded. By 2013, BlackLine was bringing in $38 million in revenue, and two years later, the company’s annual revenue grew to $83.6 million. On October 28, 2016, BlackLine began trading publicly. It’s listed on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol BL.

The company currently employs over 700 people, posted a 2017 revenue of $177 million, and is valued at over $1.5 billion.

The (Stained) Glass Ceiling

When BlackLine went public in 2016, Tucker made history by becoming the first woman founder/CEO to lead a venture-capital-backed startup from Los Angeles to an IPO.

BlackLine’s client roster consists of a number of well-known companies, including Boeing, Costco, Coca-Cola, Under Armour, United Airlines, and eBay.

She is always very thoughtful about her next move, as evidenced by her signature pink hair. The way Tucker tells it, publicists in BlackLine’s marketing department insisted that she do a corporate video, one that would require her to be “this older woman, with a bun and a suit and a scarf, going ‘blah blah blah.’”

She finally agreed, but on one condition: “Only if I dye my hair pink.”

What she calls her “weird trademark” has “changed how I interact with the world at large.” She also sees it as something of a challenge to anyone who assumes the founder/CEO of a software company would be a man.

Though she did manage to shatter the so-called “glass ceiling,” Tucker was sadly aware of its existence – as touched on in an interview this past year.

The Ugly Truth of Assault

In November of 2017, Tucker did a ‘Women Who Lead’ interview for Inc. In that interview, she recalls an incident from before she started BlackLine where “a boss sat down between me and a co-worker and basically groped both of us.”

Tucker’s pain for the female co-worker who spoke up – and subsequently had her career with that company “dead-ended” – is evident. Equally as evident is Tucker’s head-shaking disdain for the CEO who “went to a great new job as a CEO somewhere else.” (You can watch the full interview here.)

Answering the Bell

In 2016, BlackLine shares opened at just over $25 apiece. They currently trade at over $40 per share. Tucker owns approximately 6.4 million shares (13%) of the company.

In November of 2016, her net worth was estimated at $145 million, and it’s risen substantially since then. It’s proof that believing in your dream can indeed pay off.

“Why have a modest ambition?” she says with a shrug. “Because then you accomplish it, and it’s boring.”


 

Peter Campbell | Contributing Writer

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