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February 5, 2019

Quick Base Receives Majority Investment from Vista Equity Partners to Continue Helping Teams Build Applications

Quick Base has been providing companies with software allowing them to build applications without the need to write lines and lines of code. What's more interesting is that they have been working within this space for nearly 20 years.

Quick Base has also been growing its presence in Cambridge and across the country, and now has over 5,400 customers worldwide... roughly half of the Fortune 100 are Quick Base customers.

Recently, the company received a majority investment from Vista Equity Partners. We spoke with Quick Base CEO Rick Willett to talk about the company's recent private equity investment and to learn more about what is next for the fast-growing company.


Congratulations on the recent majority investment from Vista Equity Partners! What was it about your business that attracted the firm to make this investment?

Thanks! Quick Base has a bold and disruptive vision for the future of business software, one that is all about democratizing IT and software development, and this vision attracted Vista Equity Partners.  

Here’s how we see the world. Today, work is stuck. Information is stuck in people’s heads. Data is stuck in siloed, inflexible systems. Value is stuck in inefficient processes.   

As a result, your work is stuck. The right information isn’t available or shared. The right data doesn’t drive action. Administrivia drowns out the time people could use for useful, customer impacting activity.  

Rick Willett Quick Base
Rick Willett, CEO of Quick Base

And with today’s world of software development, it’s extremely difficult to fix this. Software developers are in very short supply, and they can only be put onto the most central matters of your business. As a result, developers and IT within any business are often dealing with backlogs of requests that are years long. In short, today’s approach isn’t making a meaningful dent.  

Our vision is to change all this.  Simply put, we want Quick Base to make workflow.  With Quick Base, the right information should be instantly available to the right people, processes and workflows should be efficient and streamlined, and your time should be driving impact that matters to your customers and your business.  

We see this vision as bold and transformational.  This vision presents a near limitless opportunity to democratize IT and enterprise software development, and we are very excited to pursue it.  Vista shares our vision and our passion, and we could not be more excited to partner with their team to further accelerate our growth.

For anyone who is not familiar with Quick Base, can you share the high-level details on the company?

Quick Base is an application development platform in the cloud where business users can quickly create and run custom business applications tailored to exactly the way their organizations work.  To demystify this a little bit, Quick Base gives people without any technical skills the ability to create highly customized business applications--to automate and streamline work processes, collect and centralize data, and provide real-time reports and analysis. Our unique edge is that Quick Base combines simplicity and ease of use enabling anyone to build software, with the power and governance to build enterprise-grade business software.

On the basis of this offering, we have built a substantial business, with over 5,400 customers, roughly half of the Fortune 100, and annual recurring revenues soon exceeding $150 million.  

Our history is rooted in the Boston area. Quick Base actually started locally by MIT grads in 1999. They founded a company called Turning Mill Software and created a product called oneBase that was acquired a couple years later by Intuit. What’s remarkable is the foresight of its creators: the original oneBase product was built from the start with a cloud-based multi-tenant architecture. In 1999, this was way ahead of its time!

Intuit operated Quick Base pretty much as a stand-alone business unit for a decade. A few years ago, Intuit was doing a strategic review of its portfolio and spinning out businesses that were not fully aligned with its focus around small business and consumers. While Quick Base had many small business customers, it also served some of the largest companies in the world. As a result, Intuit determined to spin out Quick Base as an independent entity, which a private equity firm called Welsh, Carson, Anderson, and Stowe (WCAS) purchased in 2016. Now an independent entity, Quick Base has had the opportunity to serve our full range of customers.

How does the Quick Base platform help companies build applications?

Quick Base helps companies build applications by empowering the people closest to the work - those who understand their business, processes, and data best - to create and run custom business applications in a way that IT organizations can trust, govern and control.

Typically, business leaders who are stuck in the IT backlog adopt Quick Base to quickly build solutions that keep their business agile.  Increasingly, forward-looking CIOs and IT organizations proactively embrace Quick Base as a high productivity tool in their IT toolbox that allows them to quickly roll out applications and, many times, handoff customization and iteration of those applications to the business.  Ultimately, Quick Base helps companies by being a more nimble way to help the business move faster to quickly and cost-effectively deliver improved customer journeys and business outcomes.

Are there some customer examples that you can share?

You bet. Being Customer Obsessed is one of our core company values. Every employee, whether they are in customer-facing roles like sales, product or care, or in other areas like finance, HR and business operations, wake up every day thinking about how to make customer lives better. As a result, we have over 5,000 customers across all size companies, industries, and business functions leveraging our platform in all kinds of ways.

Take Southwest Airlines for example. They’ve built over 1,500 Quick Base applications supporting a wide range of use cases across marketing, finance, business operations, quality assurance, compliance, and human resources. One challenge Southwest addressed with Quick Base was the need to simplify complicated systems that were slowing collaboration. They built a Quick Base application to track active projects across the entire organization pulling together disparate spreadsheets, financial data, and other cross-departmental information into a single location where stakeholders oversee projects and manage dependencies, risks and deadlines.

FedEx is another example of Quick Base bringing together multiple systems to improve collaboration and workflow. Like Southwest, they use Quick Base in a number of areas across the company. One area is asset management where they have seen a $1.2M savings using Quick Base to track and manage all assets deployed in FedEx Office locations across the country!

We work with companies of all sizes to provide the custom business solutions growing businesses need without the cost of typical custom software development. For example, non-profit organization New Orleans 911 eliminated 90% of paper-based processes using Quick Base for staffing and scheduling. Small businesses like Cyril Foods runs their entire business using Quick Base.

We are also proud to have lots of Boston-area customers like Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Stag Industrial, Kayak, PTC, Wayfair, Harvard University, MIT and UMass using Quick Base to improve the way they work.

Who is a typical Quick Base user/builder?

We believe Quick Base can deliver value to any organization and that anyone in any company could be a Quick Base user. Where it gets really interesting is how Quick Base is changing the face of who’s building business applications.

Historically, software application developers haven’t been the most diverse group of folks.  What’s special about Quick Base is the diversity of who’s building applications on our platform.  Our most recent annual customer survey shows 46% of our builders are women, compared to 24% for traditional application development. Furthermore, our builders are spread across all generations from millennials to Gen X’ers to baby boomers.  And, since we appeal to folks that consider themselves workplace problem solvers, 73% of our builders reside outside IT in the line of business.

Quick Base not only helps grow companies but also helps grow careers. Lots of Quick Base builders are leveraging their Quick Base skills to grow their careers. Folks like Shelie McKelvey at Sprint, Lee Gilmore at Alliant Systems, and Megan Albertson at Henry Ford Allegiance Health have been promoted or took on big job roles at new companies.  In fact, we find almost 1 in 5 builders report having received a promotion on account of the work they do with Quick Base.

What are your plans for growth with this new investment?

We aspire to build a world-class SaaS franchise company, and we are really excited to partner with Vista to build this company.  We’ll be focusing that investment in three key areas: (1) Accelerating our product development to drive continuing technical superiority and value to our customers, (2) increasing our sales and customer success professionals to better serve our clients, and (3) broadening our brand awareness and painting the world purple.  All of this is based on feedback from our customers and is aimed at better serving our Quick Base community.

What are your plans for hiring in 2019?  Are you hiring across all functional areas?

We’ve been growing!  Last year we hired over 110 new employees, mainly in our Cambridge headquarters.  We recently opened up a new office in Salt Lake City, a really exciting milestone for us as we continue growing our company by expanding into new talent markets.  And, we’re continuing to hire across all areas of the business. See our jobs page here.

And, if you are interested in learning Quick Base, the Quick Base Builder Program is a way for you to learn how to build Quick Base applications, explore Quick Base features and develop your workplace problem solver skills. Register here.


Keith Cline is the Founder of VentureFizz.  Follow him on Twitter: @kcline6.

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