Search-as-a-service startup Algolia is announcing some changes at the helm of the startup. Co-founder and CEO Nicolas Dessaigne is transitioning to a non-operational role at the company. He’ll still be a board member, but Bernadette Nixon is joining the company to take on the CEO position.
Algolia is building a search engine API. The company doesn’t want to build the next Google. Instead, it wants to power the search box on your website or app with instant letter-by-letter search results.
The company is managing the search feature on Slack, Stripe, Under Armour, Twitch and 9,000 other companies. At its current run rate, Algolia processes 1.2 trillion searches a year. The company says it touches 1 in 6 web users each day.
“The story started right after the Series C,” Dessaigne told me. Algolia raised a $110 million Series C round at the end of 2019. “I was super excited but what was most exciting for me was the potential of the company.”
“Someone with more go-to-market experience would probably be a better person at achieving that potential,” he continued.
I asked more directly whether the decision to replace him as CEO came from the board of the company or not. “It really started on my side. The board was supportive of the decision but it didn’t come from them,” he said.
Nixon was previously the CEO of Alfresco, the company that developed an open source enterprise content-management startup that was acquired by private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners in 2018. In the past, she held various positions as chief revenue officer, executive vice president of sales and senior vice president of corporate sales in different software companies.
As you can see, Nixon has a ton of experience when it comes to sales and operations in general. Her experience will be valuable when it comes to scaling the startup.
“I’m excited to be now part of the Algolia team and to be leading the company as of today,” Nixon told me. Accel, the VC firm that led the Series C round in Algolia, was also an investor in Alfresco.
The transition is going to take a couple of months and Dessaigne will stick around until July. He says that he doesn’t have any concrete plan about what he’s going to do next.
Over the past year, Algolia has been ramping up executive hires. Jean-Louis Baffier joined as chief revenue officer, Ashley Stirrup joined as chief marketing officer, Kristie Rodenbush joined as chief people officer and Iain Hassall joined as chief financial officer. In other words, Algolia is growing up and preparing for the next phase. Now let’s see if it leads to an IPO or an acquisition by a bigger player.