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New Everbridge CEO talks education, NC4 acquisition

Every company needs to be ready to respond in the event of a crisis. Everbridge's new CEO details why that's important and what a proper platform entails.

The new Everbridge CEO said he wants people to understand the importance of a critical event management platform.

"It just needs to be something everyone has, because it does save lives," said David Meredith, previously the COO of Rackspace. He took over on July 15 for Jaime Ellertson, the Everbridge CEO since 2011 who is transitioning to the role of executive chairman of the board.

"We need to get out there as the leader and we need to be more aggressive in having conversations like we're having today, and educating people about what are the best practices, and how they can best prepare," Meredith said.

Two weeks into his time as CEO, Everbridge acquired NC4 Inc., a risk intelligence provider that Meredith said will improve his company's Critical Event Management (CEM) suite. The two companies had previously been partners.

"A lot of acquisitions, companies may be competing with each other or they're maybe in an adjacent space, but they haven't worked together very much," said Karl Kotalik, who will be general manager of NC4 after serving as its president and CEO. "We've been exchanging information for years, not just together, but in combination with customers."

The NC4 acquisition gives Everbridge 10 products it sells as a SaaS company, Meredith said. Everbridge, which is based in Burlington, Mass., claims about 4,700 enterprise customers. The company now has about 950 employees, including the entire team of more than 70 workers from NC4, which is based in El Segundo, Calif. The acquisition payment was $83 million in cash and Everbridge stock, and it's expected to fully close at the end of the third quarter.

We need to really be more proactive in terms of educating the marketplace on what can be done to keep people safe and keep businesses running.
David MeredithCEO, Everbridge

NC4 claimed more than 300 customers. One hundred of those customers are in the Fortune 500. About 50% of NC4 customers were also Everbridge users as well. Kotalik said the acquisition will help NC4 "scale down" into Everbridge's base for smaller companies that still need risk intelligence.

Meredith said he wants Everbridge to be for CEM what Salesforce is for customer relationship management, in a "platform that really makes the ecosystem" around CRM.

"You can have one place to get all the data if you are an enterprise, or a state, local or federal government," Meredith said. "Then if something is happening, we can move very quickly to manage that with the rest of the tools in the suite."

We recently spoke with Meredith and Kotalik to discuss their plans for the Critical Event Management suite and NC4.

What led you to take the Everbridge CEO job?

David MeredithDavid Meredith

David Meredith: I've known of Everbridge as a customer for years and was a very happy and satisfied customer. What pulled me into this role, first and foremost, is the mission of Everbridge -- the mission of keeping people safe and businesses running faster. It's a very powerful draw. We are a mission-driven company.

The technology is the leader in the space. They used to say you'd never get fired for hiring IBM in technology. And in the critical event management space, Everbridge is the leader and I think it's safe to say you would never get fired for picking Everbridge. If you look at the ability to scale, the global reach, the resiliency, the fact that we're a public company, our size, the breadth of our offerings, we're the clear leader in the space, and that's very exciting.

But I still think there's a lot of room to grow from there.

What is it about the technology that makes Everbridge a leader?

Meredith: Everbridge has been investing heavily on building out our technology platform and doing acquisitions as well. If you look at the Critical Event Management suite, critical event management, or CEM, is an area that we're sort of a pioneer in. It starts with a single pane of glass, and this is our Visual Command Center, and that's where we can aggregate thousands and thousands of pieces of data. The ability to curate all that data, using technology, machine learning, artificial intelligence, as well as expert human analysts, [create] that added level of validation.

Our systems are extremely scalable. We've moved everything to the cloud now and we're very resilient. … We have the ability to deliver the messages when you need them in a timely manner, and we've got backups in place at every level of the supply chain. We're the leader in that.

Everbridge and NC4 were partners previously -- how did you work together in the past?

Karl KotalikKarl Kotalik

Karl Kotalik: I started NC4 18 years ago, right after 9/11. … A natural partnership developed about 10 years ago because Everbridge was already emerging as the leader in mass notification and communication -- at the time they called it unified communications. And NC4, our specialty, we were very focused on risk intelligence. We were emerging as the leader in real-time event incident monitoring, all hazards -- everything from water main breaks and one-alarm fires and shootings up to terrorist attacks, hurricanes, tornadoes, major floods.

We were getting the information, but to deliver it at scale, to the large customers we were serving, we needed that assist from Everbridge. So, we partnered, where we did something really well, on the front end of the process, and Everbridge handled the downstream messaging, unified communications to people who needed to know. And they started getting into more response and coordination, and they've grown the CEM platform today.

When you're partnered, you're not coordinating on strategy. It's a nice relationship, but we realized we could do so much more coming together. … Putting the two together is a killer combination. And a lot of the work had already been done because of the partnerships with these large enterprises.

How has the integration been going?

Kotalik: Everbridge has had access to every iteration and evolution of our APIs going back 10 years, and they've seen our data streams and fed it to their platforms over all these years. So, their development team, their product management team, their operations team, understand the [kind and volume of data NC4 deals in]. We're doing 700 incidents a day on critical events.

You might think of a critical event as something big, but a critical event for an individual customer could be as minor as a water main break. But [it's a major event] if it's across the street and you're a data center and you depend on that water pressure for the cooling of the equipment in the data center. With the CEM platform, to very quickly orchestrate all the mitigation steps you want to take, shutting down the servers, turning on alternate cooling systems, whatever those steps are, not being able to do that, could turn that into a disaster. It could take down your customers and you don't want to do that.

Where do you see the CEM suite progressing? Is there anything you want to see added?

Meredith: We have a whole roadmap that we're going to continue to be building out. There are some big market drivers that we're tapping into. One is internet of things. There's going to be 75 billion connected devices in the next six years. One of the things Everbridge does, in addition to keeping your employees or citizens or customers safe, we also help to keep your assets and things safe as well. And that's going to get much more complex with the advent of more IoT.

Another big trend we see is around mobility. If you look at what's happening with the workforce today, in the next few years, over 70% of U.S. workers are going to be mobile. If you're trying to keep your employees safe, it's not as simple as when everyone is just in one building, from 9 to 5. Now they're spread everywhere, working from home and other places.

Big data is another one. I think NC4 is a great example where aggregating all that data, being able to curate it, sort through it, and get to actionable intelligence for our customers as quickly as possible, even to the point of being predictive, is going to be strategically important for us. We're going to continue to invest and drive more analytics-type solutions out of all the data that we have and all the data that we see.

Photo of Everbridge's Global Operations Center
Everbridge's Global Operations Center at its headquarters in Burlington, Mass., tracks critical events worldwide, 24/7.

What are you seeing as trends in customers?

Meredith: One big trend, and another reason I was drawn to the company, is Everbridge is really creating a network effects business.

We recently announced that the state of Florida did a five-year renewal with us. So, what happens when you win a state like Florida? Over the years, we've added 64 of 67 counties as customers. We've added 26 cities, including the 10 largest in Florida, almost 50 corporations, 15 state agencies, almost 20 higher education universities [and] 29 healthcare organizations.

When you start to add all that on, it creates this network effect, where when something happens, it's all interrelated -- you've got emergency responders, you've got the state, the county, the city, transportation. If there's a hurricane in Florida, all of these groups are impacted. Our ability to have all of them on our platform is really powerful. It's beneficial to them, it's beneficial to us. That's really that ecosystem effect, that network effect we create.

We just announced that we won the country of Australia as a customer. If you think about what I just talked about with Florida, now we're doing it for the country of Australia -- the states, the cities, the healthcare, the higher education, the corporations and tying all that together.

What's really interesting, looking forward, the European Union has come out and said all of the EU countries need to have population alerting systems in place in the next few years, so that's an opportunity for us to take what we've done in Australia and other countries and now move faster in terms of spreading that in Europe.

We're getting all this data coming in from all these sources. The data is the lifeblood of the system. As you're looking at that Visual Command Center -- and we're getting data from our analysts, we're getting data from the web, from our customers -- it allows us to be much more accurate in terms of false positives and false negatives. There have been some highly publicized examples recently about false alarms and how disruptive that can be. With NC4, you've got 24/7 analysts looking at all the feeds, highly trained, highly skilled, and can say, 'I'm looking at all my data, I'm curating all the data and this is not a critical event. This is a false alarm.'

Or, alternatively, potentially minutes can save lives. And being able to shrink that time and know something is really happening, know we're getting into a critical event, and be able to get people to safety, be able to protect your assets, that is very important and has a huge impact in terms of the overall return on investment the customer makes in a platform like this.

What else have you learned as Everbridge CEO in a month and what are your short- and long-term plans?

Meredith: Having been in technology for many years now, I will say, you need great people, you need great technology; you also need timing to line up. Unfortunately, we're at a period now, we have the data -- unfortunately, it's up in terms of weather events, in terms of cyber, malware attacks, terrorist attacks. The rate's increasing.

We're creating a whole new category. We need to really be more proactive in terms of educating the marketplace on what can be done to keep people safe and keep businesses running. … We've got to be out there and educating and talking about the story. I really believe if you're a Global 2000 or Fortune 1000 company, really every one of those companies should have technology and plans in place for what to do in the event of a critical event, whether they use Everbridge or not.

Do you think that not enough people and organizations know about what you do?

Meredith: I think that's correct. When we go talk to a company, a lot of times, it's not that they already have a solution, but they have maybe a couple point solutions and they've sort of jury-rigged some standard operating procedures. We don't see the level of preparation that you would like to see. It's something that you don't want to ever have to use, but you want to have it in place.

Kotalik: We will go in to customers and they won't even realize they can get real-time information that's impacting their travelers, their assets, their locations, in enough time to really mitigate. When they hear the stories about how it saved lives or it reduced downtime, it stopped an event from turning into a disaster for the company because they were able to mitigate it, that helps drive our business for these less sophisticated organizations that haven't really thought about this. They don't think they have a big enough budget or enough people.

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