Eoghan McCabe returns to Business Messaging Startup Intercom as CEO

McCabe, who was chief executive from 2011 to 2020, raised Intercom’s revenue to $100 million and is accused of making unnecessary advances for several female employees. He told Forbes that an investigation into the incidents cleared him.

Intercom co-founder Eoghan McCabe, who led the messaging software company to a $1 billion valuation before stepping down after being accused of sexual misconduct a year later, is returning as CEO.

McCabe began his second term as CEO, effective immediately, according to a company email sent to employees Thursday. Former COO Karen Peacock, who will replace McCabe in 2020, is leaving the company after six months as an advisor to the board.

“I can never be that far from the company,” McCabe told Forbes. “I’m as concerned as ever, and what I’ve clearly learned over the past few years [Intercom] Can and should be. Recently, some board members asked me if I would consider going back as CEO, and I felt like I was being asked to finish what I started. “

Intercom was founded in Dublin, Ireland by McCabe and fellow countrymen Des Traynor, David Barrett and Ciaran Lee. The company started building messaging tools for businesses to communicate with customers, and by 2016 it had become one of the fastest-growing startups in Silicon Valley. Under McCabe’s leadership, the company achieved annual revenue of $100 million and a valuation of $1.3 billion with investments from venture capital firms including Bessemer Venture Partners, Index Ventures and Kleiner Perkins.

“We wanted to do what Figma did with Photoshop.”

Egan McCabe

McCabe’s meteoric rise in 2019 followed reports that he took unnecessary steps toward junior female employees. The allegations, which allegedly included inappropriate contact and an offer by at least one junior employee, prompted an exodus of women from the company, sometimes referred to internally as “exit.”

McCabe told Forbes that his internal and external investigations into the allegations were unanimous, blaming his relative youth for the incidents. “I’m happy to be blunt and the reality is that in the early days of the company, I met someone. I was naive and thought we were all on the same level,” he told Forbes, referring to the power dynamics between executives and junior salespeople. He insisted that his decision to step down as CEO the following year was a personal choice, as Intercom’s board voted unanimously to keep him in the role. “My intention was never to be CEO,” he said. “I dream of being chairman and trying something new.”

Under Peacock’s leadership, Intercom reached $200 million in annual revenue and rose to No. 1. 35th ForbesThe ‘Cloud 100 is on the list in large part because its products are popular among SMBs. In recent months, the company’s executives and board have begun discussing the next steps for Intercom.McCabe told Forbes Negotiations have identified a narrowing of the product offering (currently including software to drive sales and customer retention) with a special focus on customer support. In doing so, Intercom, which once billed itself as the “next generation of Salesforce,” is now aiming to take down another company. “We’re going to be very aggressive and choose a lane, choose to fight Zendesk,” McCabe said. “We wanted to do what Figma did with Photoshop.”

McCabe said he sees Zendesk as the current market leader in support software for mid-market companies, while Salesforce and ServiceNow dominate the enterprise customer base. He believes Intercom, with more than 1,000 employees, can surpass Zendesk by focusing on customer support. But that requires re-prioritizing R&D efforts and leveraging the marketing team to market a whole new story. After deciding on Intercom’s new vision, McCabe was asked by various board members if he would be interested in returning to the CEO role, he said. As for why the CEO needs to be replaced to execute on the vision, he said cautiously: “You’ll have to ask Karen.” After receiving comments, Peacock wrote in an email: “I have a good idea of ​​where the walkie-talkie is going and what the next chapter is about. Excited. I will always be the biggest fan and advocate of Walkie Talkie.”

McCabe said he was happy to celebrate Peacock on her way away, but the company’s focus now is on his “super-radical” vision. “The board realized I had done this before at Intercom — define a category and make a lot of noise in that space,” he said. “Obviously, they believed I could do it again.”

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