Klaviyo CEO Explains Workplace Mantra and AI Plans

Estimated read time 4 min read

Klaviyo, the marketing tech company that went public on the New York Stock Exchange last September, has an internal motto that’s meant to motivate its employees and make them less afraid of failure: “We’re 1% done.”

CEO Andrew Bialecki compared the idea to the progress bar that might appear on your screen when you’re downloading a software update. If the progress bar shows that the download is only 1% done, you don’t worry too much about closing your laptop and trying again later since you weren’t that far along in the process, he told Business Insider.

“A dangerous thing that happens is if a person or a team or whole company starts to feel like, well, we’re kind of 60% of the way there or 70%, you start to feel a little protective of what you’ve got. You start to get a little risk-averse,” Bialecki said.

“You just need that mentality that, the best things you’re going to accomplish are still in front of you,” he added.

“We’re 1% done” is also meant to emphasize that Klaviyo employees should always be looking to raise the bar of what success looks like. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t celebrate milestones and smaller wins along the way.

Klaviyo powers email and SMS marketing for more than 143,000 e-commerce businesses, so Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend is a busy time of year.

“After every holiday season, we hang a little banner inside the Klaviyo office to celebrate our customers being successful,” he said. “But then we say, well however many dollars of revenue, or messages we send, or the amount of data that we help store and query, what would it mean to do 100x that? And every year, the number just gets bigger and bigger.”

Klaviyo’s plans to create value in a ‘fragmented’ SaaS landscape

Bialecki says AI is one area where Klaviyo plans to raise the bar. It recently announced a new suite of tools that include the ability to generate customer segments, create on-brand emails, and optimize web forms using AI.

AI is also a major part of how Klaviyo is investing in its product suite as it continues to add value for customers in an increasingly crowded e-commerce SaaS landscape. Many merchants using platforms like Shopify have been looking to cut costs in their tech stack. That has meant it’s grown even more important for SaaS companies to prove they’re valuable to merchants.

Bialecki says Klaviyo can directly demonstrate the impact of its tech using a metric the company calls “Klaviyo Attributed Value.” It measures revenue coming from orders that are placed within five days of an email being sent to a customer using Klaviyo, as well as orders that are placed within 24 hours of an SMS being sent. The company said it generated more than $50 billion in Klaviyo Attributed Value in 2023.

“There’s been so much fragmentation of software in the last 15 years. For every little workflow or every little tool, there was something, and it didn’t really work with the other stuff,” Bialecki said.

By contrast, Klaviyo sees itself as a “central brain” for a business in that it helps companies use their own customer data to make email and SMS marketing decisions.

Klaviyo is often considered the darling of the Shopify ecosystem, and its IPO served as a big test for companies that rely on the Canadian e-commerce platform for growth. Klaviyo’s S-1 filing mentions the word “Shopify” 198 times, and it said that about 77.6% of its annual recurring revenue came from Shopify merchants.

The company reported fourth-quarter earnings — their second as a public company — on February 27. It grew revenue by 39% year over year to $201.6 million and reported an operating loss of $36.3 million. Total revenue was $698.1 million for 2023.

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