Sprinklr’s CEO Ragy Thomas On Staying Positive In A Tough Economy

Ragy Thomas, CEO & founder, Sprinklr

When customer experience software company Sprinklr went public in June of last year, it joined a veritable stampede of ad tech companies that hit the public market in 2021.

In no particular order, DoubleVerify, Integral Ad Science, AppLovin, ironSource, Viant, Innovid, Outbrain, Taboola, AdTheorent, Zeta Global and AcuityAds all got their tickers ticking last year. So many companies went public in 2021 that Teads halted its planned IPO because the runway was too crowded. (The company’s founder, Pierre Chappaz, told AdExchanger that 27 other companies were scheduled to go public the same week Teads had been eyeing for its IPO.)

But this year has been … a different story. Tech stocks in general are taking a beating, and most ad tech company stocks are down. The latter isn’t just about being buffeted by macroeconomic headwinds, though. Some investors don’t totally get the companies they’ve invested in.

“When you get married, you suddenly inherit a family of people and, in some ways, it’s the same when you go public,” said Ragy Thomas, CEO and founder of Sprinklr. “You inherit an entire ecosystem of investors and you have to communicate with a whole new group of stakeholders – so it definitely has been a change.”

Although Sprinklr’s stock is down by more than 36% this year, the company’s Q1 total revenue grew 31% year-over-year to $145 million, its third straight quarter of more than 30% total revenue growth.

AdExchanger caught up with Thomas at the Collision conference in Toronto in late June.

AdExchanger: What’s it been like on the public market over the past year? There have been a lot of ups and downs for ad tech stocks.

RAGY THOMAS: Many investors – at least in the current volatile public market where so many companies have gone public – have been looking at their spreadsheets to predict the story as opposed to doing their own research.

If you don’t do the research and you look at the growth rates, I won’t blame you if you get all excited about everything. But we’re a benefit to long-term investors who talk to our customers and do their research, and that’s where I tend to spend my time.

Do investors understand what Sprinklr does?

If I’m talking to someone about our business, the cue when I realize they don’t fully understand what we’re trying to do is always when they say something like, “Wow, you’re trying to do a lot.” Because yes, that is the point.

We’re trying to create an operating system for large companies and, eventually, small companies to manage the digital edge of their brand where customers interact with them.

We are not well understood, but I’m also not worried about it, because we will be.

So what is Sprinklr in a nutshell then?

TikTok, Facebook and all of the others have tools that work for the millions of small brands that use their platforms. But Joe’s coffee shop in Toronto has very different needs from Coca-Cola, Nike or P&G. If you’re a big brand, you can use us to manage every social, messaging and email channel rather than logging in yourself or getting your agencies on it.

We give them unified campaign management, content planning workflow governance and automation infrastructure. You can think of us like a power adapter for larger businesses to plug in to use any of these channels.

By the way, what did you mean by “digital edge”?

A brand like a car manufacturer might have operations in 62 markets, and every market runs its own corporate marketing, brand advertising and performance advertising. That brand has service centers in every market with hundreds if not thousands of dealers, and every dealer does its own marketing and sales and customer service – and each marketing team at each dealer in each local town is using multiple channels.

There’s a lot happening at what you might call the edge, and if we’re talking about GM or Cadillac, they need to ensure consistency across what could be literally hundreds of thousands of touch points, from their ads to what happens on a customer care call in a contact center in Manila.

Brands need different ways to manage everybody and everything that touches customers.

A CRM system won’t do that?

CRM systems are built for transactions. And 99% of interactions, from ads to customer care calls, will not be related to a sales transaction – or, at least, not immediately so.

Brands have to engage and communicate across channels to understand what people are saying at the digital edge. It could be data from anywhere. It all needs to be fed into a unified marketing, advertising and customer care solution that’s built to be deployed across entire companies, markets and product organizations.

We don’t do traditional CRM, email or ecommerce. Those are things that Salesforce already does well. We do all the things they don’t do.

Sprinklr just expanded its relationship with TikTok to help advertisers track organic content in addition to paid campaigns on the platform. Why is that important?

Brands want to look at how much money they’re spending on TikTok beyond paid media, including influencers and advocates. They want to look at it holistically so they can have a specific TikTok strategy rather than just another channel to spend money on.

What’s on your product road map?

One is a focus on customer care and the contact center to help brands reimagine their investment in traditional contact centers as an investment in the customer experience.

The traditional thinking about a contact center is to get agents to resolve issues more quickly, but we think brands can get agents to do the selling. With AI we can resolve issues faster and also send information to the product team to fix things in real time.

Customer service is the starting point for great a customer experience, or it can be. But if you’re not able to carry context from one channel, function, country or business unit to another, it can become the customer’s problem. And if you can’t bring context across channels, what right do you have to sell?

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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