DocuSign Hires Springer as CEO, Ending 15-Month Executive Search

  • Former Responsys CEO to seek exit for DocuSign’s VC backers
  • Startup will set date for IPO later this year, Springer says

Daniel Springer

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Ending a long quest for a new leader, DocuSign Inc. hired Daniel Springer as chief executive officer to help the aging startup seek an exit for its venture capital backers.

Springer takes control of the business software company about 15 months after CEO Keith Krach told employees he was seeking a replacement. Krach will continue to serve as chairman, DocuSign said.

Springer said he expects to set a date for an initial public offering sometime this year. He declined to comment on company financials, but said the focus was on re-investing revenue in operations, rather than turning a profit.

Springer said he was among the first contacted when DocuSign began searching for a CEO in 2015, but he passed on the opportunity because he wanted to spend time with his sons before they started college. When DocuSign came calling again a few months ago he said he was happy -- and a little surprised the position was still open.

“I asked questions, but there was no smoking gun or fascinating story. They were just being choosy,” he said. 

It typically takes about four months to find a CEO for a closely held company, according to executive recruiters, but DocuSign’s search lingered. It nearly hired Rick Osterloh, but he changed his mind right before a planned announcement and joined Alphabet Inc.’s Google instead to run a new hardware business. The startup explored hiring other executives including Enrique Salem, a DocuSign board member and managing director at Bain Capital Ventures, a person familiar with the process has said.

DocuSign rose to prominence starting in 2003 with a service that lets people electronically authorize documents they would otherwise have to print out and sign. It has added document management and archival software since then. A financing round in 2015 valued the company at $3 billion. It’s rich valuation brought new investors expecting results, and DocuSign’s board has pushed it to go public or sell, people familiar with the matter said last year.

Springer pulled off an exit for his previous company, Responsys Inc. As CEO, he took that company public in 2011 and oversaw its $1.5 billion acquisition by Oracle Corp. in 2014.

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