57: Inventing an Engine for the Subscription Economy: Tien Tzuo, CEO, Zuora

 
Tien Tzuo worked at Salesforce before he started his own company to fuel the subscription economy. Photo: Zuora

Tien Tzuo worked at Salesforce before he started his own company to fuel the subscription economy. Photo: Zuora

We used to buy things. Remember that? Hard drives, hit singles, our favorite movies. But for now at least, the hot trend is subscriptions.  

Instead of buying hard drives, we subscribe to cloud storage from Amazon, Google, Microsoft or Dropbox. For music there’s Spotify. For movies there’s Netflix. And it seems a new subscription service is born every minute.  

They say that during a gold rush, the surest way to strike it rich is to sell picks and shovels. That’s what Tien Tzuo is doing in this new subscription economy. His company, Zuora, is the engine that powers the subscription process for companies like Box, SurveyMonkey and TripAdvisor.  

I talked to Tien Tzuo about how he founded Zuora, and grew it into a company that’s raised nearly a quarter of a billion dollars and is pushing for more growth. He’s got some unique ideas about managing people, and stepping out on your own.