Founders in Focus: Bob Moore of Crossbeam

Welcome to our Founders in Focus series, where each month we highlight one of the founders of Okta Ventures’ portfolio companies. You’ll learn more about them and how they work with Okta. This month we’re speaking with Bob Moore, founder of Crossbeam.

What is Crossbeam and what is your mission?

Crossbeam is a partner ecosystem platform. We act as a data escrow service that finds overlapping customers and prospects with your partners while keeping the rest of your data private and secure.

Our mission is to create a more connected business world by powering the exchange of data between companies.

What were you doing prior to Crossbeam that led you to this moment?

My co-founder Buck Ryan and I believe that we’re in the “Era of the Ecosystem.” It’s the idea that a product’s position in its partner ecosystem is just as important, if not more important, than the product itself.

Most of this stems from my time founding my two former companies, RJMetrics and Stitch Data. At both of these companies, I saw firsthand that simple questions involving partner data (for example, “Are our sales reps selling to the same people?”) were actually very hard to answer.

This was particularly frustrating because other areas, like sales, marketing, customer success, and product, all had data-driven “SaaS 2.0” platforms informing their decisions and workflows. Meanwhile, partnerships were stuck in the ‘90s, swapping spreadsheets and doing check-in calls to figure out how to spend their time. At the core of this gap was the “Partner’s Dilemma”—a version of the “prisoner’s dilemma” game theory problem. Basically, unless everyone can share data equally and safely, no one will share data at all.You end up in a standoff.

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After Sitch was acquired by Talend in November 2018, Buck and I saw a chance to solve the Partner’s Dilemma problem by building a next-generation SaaS platform specifically for the partner and business development professional. Crossbeam was born.

What is Crossbeam’s solution? What challenge does it solve? 

We act as a data escrow service. Our customers connect Crossbeam to their CRM and then configure custom data sharing rules that surface overlapping accounts with their partners. This allows Crossbeam users to conduct always-up-to-date account mapping, prevent channel conflict, source ecosystem qualified leads, and more—all for free.

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Customers can also push overlap data to Salesforce and Slack so their team members can access Crossbeam’s insights in the platforms where they already work. 

Our best customers have built Crossbeam into a robust and scalable new source of leads for their sales pipeline, as well as enhancing their knowledge of their own ecosystem using data from our free partnership database, Partnerbase.

Why did Crossbeam want to work with Okta?

We’re in the business of partnerships, and Okta’s partner ecosystem is one of the most impressive and formidable in the SaaS universe. We’ve been inspired by the potential that exists in “supernode” connectors like Okta, and the opportunity is immense for us to learn and grow by working with them and the companies in their network. 

In a way, both of our companies are in the business of trust. Okta’s trust exists between employees and systems. Ours exists between companies. At the intersection of these worlds, we see a number of exciting possibilities for collaboration. 

How is Crossbeam working with Okta? What support do you look for in a corporate partner?

We’re in the final stages of releasing Okta SSO support in Crossbeam, but that’s just the beginning. Okta helps its customers collaborate with partners in a number of ways, and we see opportunities to reduce friction, eliminate complexity, and expand the scope of partner collaboration by integrating our products more closely. More to come on that front.

As for corporate partners, we think about the duality of strategy and tactics. Our corporate partners are often larger than us and capable of moving the needle in our business with even lightweight tactical assistance—which we love to see. But that collaboration will only make sense over the long term as part of a broader shared vision. 

What trends do you expect to see in Crossbeam’s industry? 

Each year we survey partner managers and put together a trends report called the State of the Partner Ecosystem. When we talk to our customers and our network, we’re seeing that investing in partner ecosystems is table stakes. This has a few downstream effects.

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  • Partnerships are more measurable than ever. With tools like ours, the value of partnerships is becoming easier to measure. This result is PartnerOps—a burgeoning field to optimize partnership data.
  • Partnerships are more data driven than ever. Data is becoming the starting point of new partnerships. This allows companies to focus on the right collaborators rather than wasting months on an integration that doesn’t quite fit their market. 
  • There are more possible partners than ever. When every company has an API, it increases the number of partnerships. We’re seeing that growth in our network as well.

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