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Alteryx CEO Presses Ahead During Crisis

Dean Stoecker’s Alteryx Inc. has started the year strong, its cross-town move in Irvine is going forward, and it sees the coronavirus pandemic as a wake-up call for business executives to embrace data analytics.

And what does he make of the global business devastation around him?

“In situations like this, winners and losers emerge, and we intend to be a winner,” the Alteryx chief executive told the Business Journal on May 8.

Software maker Alteryx (NYSE: AYX) lets companies manipulate huge amounts of data to find insights for business decisions.

Stoecker said the COVID-19 crisis makes that process more important than ever, and that his firm stands to benefit from changing business practices.

He also stressed “we’re very sad that so many negative things have happened and so many people have been impacted” by the pandemic that has thrown tens of millions of Americans out of work.

Teaching Data Workers

A sign of Stoecker’s belief in the power of the company’s value, and its desire to help those impacted: Alteryx is offering free data training to thousands of unemployed workers to bring them up to speed on analytics, or “upskill” the workers as the experts call it.

“We want to get them back on their feet as quickly as possible,” Stoecker said of the program, called Advancing Data and Analytics Potential Together, or ADAPT.

“It is the opportunity for us to give free copies of Alteryx to any unemployed worker anywhere on earth,” Stoecker said. “We’re going to put them through our learning paths; we’re going to get them certified on our software.”

Those who want to continue can advance to a nanodegree in “predictive analytics” in a program run by the Udacity online learning organization.

He adds: “Hopefully a lot of our customers will hire these folks.”

Alteryx recently made one notable hire of its own, with the appointment of cyber expert Billy Spears as chief information security officer on May 8 (see story, page 5). It’s a newly created role for the firm. In another sign of progress during the COVID-19 crisis, Alteryx plans to showcase a new analytic automation platform that unifies analytics, data science and business process automation at a livestream event on May 21.

Crystal Ball

What does the big data exec’s data show, in terms of the economy?

Stoecker said he expects what experts are calling a U-shaped recovery, with the economy bumping along the bottom for a while before heading back up.

“You don’t know if there’s a second shoe to drop here,” he said, adding he’s “pretty confident” that won’t happen.

Alteryx can weather “lots of storms” including the pandemic, but “nobody could weather a storm that lasted six months, nine months, a year.”

He predicts COVID-19 will ultimately be the “accelerant” for greater use of data analytics emphasizing the need for properly trained workers.

“We will benefit in the long run. There’s no doubt about that.”

OC Darling

Alteryx has been the darling of Orange County’s tech scene since it went public in March 2017 at a price of $14 a share, with revenue growth rates of 55% in 2018 and 65% in 2019. Its share price closed at $122.17 apiece on Wednesday, up 22% since the start of the year despite the recent wild ride in the stock markets. The company’s headcount grew 58% in a year’s time to 1,478 as of March 31.

You wouldn’t know that from a look at the company’s parking lot.

Talking to the Business Journal by telephone, Stoecker said he was the only person in the company’s 80,000-square-foot offices in Park Place.

“I’m socially distant,” he said. All of the other employees in the company’s Irvine headquarters and 18 offices around the world are working from home.

The company reported first-quarter revenue jumped 43% to $108.8 million in the three months ended March 31, topping the average analyst estimate of $105.5 million and up from $76 million in the same period of 2019.

Stoecker points to the $400 million annual recurring revenue Alteryx generates, giving the company the ability to easily manage the cost structure to match top-line growth.

Second-quarter revenue is expected to be in the range of $91 million to $95 million, below the consensus analyst estimate but a reflection of the difficult times ahead.

Faced with the pandemic, the company said in Securities and Exchange Commission filings that its “global hiring and expansion plans have either temporarily ceased or significantly slowed in the short term.”

COVID-19 Work

Alteryx quickly chipped in when the crisis started; its product was used to help hospitals in the Northeast source equipment. It was also used to help medical equipment manufacturers “reimagine” supply chains to find alternative suppliers.

Even as the pandemic raged, Alteryx pushed ahead with sales of its software.

“When oil hit rock bottom territory at the beginning of April, we continued to sell to oil and gas companies,” he said, noting the company’s product was also sold to the embattled cruise line industry in mid-March, for example.

“We don’t see any impact on the number of new customers,” Stoecker said of the crisis. He said he’s confident current customers will keep their Alteryx subscriptions.

Move on Track

Alteryx plans to move its world headquarters to 183,000 square feet of space at the new Spectrum Terrace development; it’s more than double the current offices at Park Place near John Wayne Airport.

Stoecker said the first phase of the move will probably take place in August, with the rest including the main headquarters building “probably the end of the year, maybe even into January 2021.”

The Shady Canyon resident is clearly looking forward to the space, which will feature an executive briefing center and an indoor basketball court that will double as a theater.

He said the company won’t be leasing more space to accommodate for social distancing, but is looking into an alternative to keep everyone safe.

Staffers might work from home one or two days a week, and then come into the office the other days.

“We would just stagger workforces so they wouldn’t be working full-time either in the office or at home. That’s a happy balance that would still bode well for growth,” Stoecker said, adding that a decision won’t be made until June or July.

No one at Alteryx has been furloughed or laid off, and salaries have stayed the same.

“Unfortunately, a lot of the software companies let people go. I chose not to reduce our staff,” Stoecker said.

“I don’t think it’s fiscally required, at least not yet,” he said, pointing to the $1 billion on the company’s balance sheet.

“I’ve told our team, ‘we’re going to protect your jobs, but that doesn’t give you a hall pass on performance.’”

Improve Your Password, Alteryx Security Chief Says

Alteryx Inc. on May 7 named data and security expert Billy Spears to the newly created role of chief information security officer.

Spears joins Alteryx from Foothill Ranch’s loanDepot, where he served as executive vice president and chief information security officer.

His responsibilities at the data analytics firm include overseeing information security, enterprise cybersecurity and associated risk management practices.

Here are some views from the Marine Corps vet and founding member of the privacy and information security team at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, including recent cases of cyber-intruders disrupting Zoom video conferences.

Password Protection

Authentication is a vital part of the equation, but it really isn’t that simple. Individuals should improve their “password game” to a minimum of 10 characters and be creative to make them more complex.

I recommend using a password manager to help create and store passwords, so you do not use the same password for multiple accounts.

As an additional layer of security, I recommend adding a Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) solution to your web facing applications. This is a very important additional layer of protection that provides peace of mind satisfaction if the bad guys compromise your password. MFA will prevent the bad guys from successfully gaining access to your accounts.

New Challenges

We live in an interconnected world where innovation transforms our approach to solving cybersecurity challenges. As technology continues to evolve, our protection strategies shift to balance the risk.

The Zoom situation is a great example to illustrate this point. As the world rapidly shifted to a remote workforce, virtual meetings have become the new norm.

This resulted in several security-related vulnerabilities being exposed and fixed within their software.  

Shifting Workers

Shifting businesses from a traditional workforce to remote is challenging during the best of times. Accomplishing this during the midst of a global pandemic in a very short period was an incredible achievement.

Fortunately, we have an amazingly talented group of technologists that swiftly converted our networking posture resulting in Alteryx’s ability to continue supporting our customers, partners and prospects during this unprecedented time.

—Kevin Costelloe

Kevin Costelloe
Kevin Costelloe
Tech reporter at Orange County Business Journal
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