Navigating Hybrid, Multi and Complex Global Cloud Environments with Michael Reid – CEO, Megaport

Posted on April 1, 2024 in Business Opportunities

🌟 Have you ever wondered about the fascinating connection between technology and business in today’s constantly changing market? Join our hosts, Jackson Barnes and Nigel Heyn, as they dive into the ever-changing landscape of technology and commerce with special guest Michael Reid, CEO of Megaport, on the newest episode of REDD’s Business & Technology podcast.

Michael’s deep understanding of the Australian market and his focus on building strong personal connections set him apart as a leader in the industry. He believes that passion and understanding are essential elements that resonate with professionals across various fields, leading to the success of their teams. 💼

In addition, Michael’s forward-thinking perspectives on cloud connectivity offer valuable insights into how companies such as Megaport are transforming the landscape of modern business operations. These advanced technologies are revolutionising the business world by simplifying complex environments and providing smooth connectivity solutions, thus improving effectiveness and productivity. 🚀 Michael’s fresh outlook and innovative strategies provide valuable advice for businesses aiming to stay ahead in a highly competitive market. His ability to connect technology with sales offers a clear path to success in navigating the challenges of today’s business environment. 💡✨

#REDDPodcast #SalesInsights #TechandCommerce #BusinessLeadership #FutureofSales #NetworkingStrategies


00:00 – Start
00:44 – Guest Introduction: Michael Reid, CEO of Megaport
04:46 – Overview of Megaport and Its Evolution
06:20 – Transition from Sales to CEO and Role of CRO
12:34 – Financial Turnaround and Strategic Changes
15:05 – Leadership Team and Organisational Changes
17:07 – Embracing Technology and Managing Disruption
20:46 – Finding and Empowering Talent
23:04 – Mitigating Risks and Supporting Talent
25:37 – Finding Passionate Individuals and Adapting to Challenges
28:18 – Sales Industry
30:51 – Transformation in Sales Leadership and Leveraging AI Tools
37:24 – Importance of Face-to-Face Interaction in Sales and Cultural Differences
38:59 – Future Trends in Technology and Megaport’s Role in Simplifying Connectivity
44:36 – Final Thoughts


If you would like to discuss any of the topics discussed in this episode further with a REDD expert or if you would like to be a guest on the show, please get in touch either via our website, [email protected], or through any of the links below.



Hello, welcome to Redd’s Business and Technology Podcast. I’m your host, Jackson Barnes and I’m your co-host Nigel Heyn. Today we’re sitting down with a pretty exciting guest, CEO of Megaport. Michael Reid, thanks for coming in Michael. Very


Excited to be here with a mic right in my face and some DJ sort of headphones. I’m ready. Yeah, I’ll get you on this before,


Get you on the decks later, mate. Mate. Let’s set the scene for the audience on your background. Obviously CEO of Megaport successful in what you’re doing currently, which we’ll elaborate on soon, but your background when you started, which I believe was more in B2B sales and enterprise sales, and then your journey towards lit sales leadership and now CEO of Megaport. Do you want to just give us the short version of that?


Very short version is I went to university here in Brisbane, qt studied aerospace engineering, which sounded very cool and that’s pretty much the reason I chose it. I need to realise there was no jobs in the aerospace industry. You can’t work for NASA either. You have to have a secret clearance. So that’s how you get into tech. You fail at whatever you chose to do from a degree perspective in terms of a job and you end up in technology today, I believe you’ve got degrees for it, which I think is a good transition. And I think that’s probably the statement there is you sort of follow the opportunity and tech is just, and I think will forever be this booming space. And so I landed in a tech sales company here in Brisbane very early on and actually they publicly listed whilst I was at that business and then had the opportunity to move to Sydney and run a whole range of things for Cisco.


But in the end it was enterprise tech sales, looking after banking and finance and a few other pieces there. I landed back in Brisbane, which is where NIJ and I first hooked up. I was running the northern region of Australia, so Queensland, nt, Papua New Guinea for Cisco. And I dunno if we’ll chat on some of that history, but I was there for the very, very early inception of Redd when I think it was a single employee nij and now it’s amazing to see your progression. I then had a really sort of weird move or a big change I think in I’d say career and trajectory where I had an opportunity to move to the United States and actually ended up running our acquisitions inside Cisco, a range of different acquisitions. And so during that time and then over the next four years living in the Bay Area, which is near San Francisco, had the chance to acquire six different companies, bring them into Cisco, scale ’em out and grow them.


And the most recent was Thousand Eyes, which is where my previous role was and I was the CRO, so Chief Revenue Officer head of all revenue functions inside that business. That was a pure SaaS story that was growing at an absolute rate of knots and sort of through covid we went from, there’s 150 people in the team when I started to 400 in the next two years. So yeah, a true story of hypergrowth but a lot of fun and even a couple of acquisitions inside that after we landed with Thousand Eyes and then the opportunity to step into Megaport, which is a complete move back to Brisbane, Australia, which is kind of a, if you asked me back then and plenty of people said, was your plan to come back to Australia? And firstly I’d say there is no plan, particularly in the tech industry. There was a very, very strong pool towards the United States for all of the global sort of tech businesses. So at that point in time I was like, I can never foresee myself back in Australia. Mainly because the opportunities for something global tech is very rare here,


Especially in Brisbane.


Well especially in Brisbane. So to come back to a real true global as a service business. In fact the largest network as a service platform on the planet, incredibly disruptive play founded here out of Brisbane with the majority of our revenue in the United States. So a true took the world by storm story. So to come back and run that has been a phenomenal opportunity because it’s also hometown, but it’s just so rare. And we were talking before, I think the number of companies that have managed to service Asia Pacific, a NZ, yes, Australia, a lot of successful, but to then go on really take the world by storm is pretty rare. So very cool. And I can tell you some stories about why I think it’s an amazing place to hire and continue to build. Maybe we go there in a little bit,


Definitely keen on unpacking that. Maybe for the audience, if you want to give an overview of who Megaport is, it’s probably a good place to start of people listening who haven’t heard of Megaport


Yet. So I think Megaport started all good things, solving a problem, a customer problem. And our founder, Bevan Slattery, he’s our chairman still, he’s actually just about to step down towards the end of this year financial year. And I think we’re 11 years into it now, so it’s been a long journey. But Bevan’s founded, I don’t know, I think he’s publicly traded five companies on the Australian Stock Exchange. And each one has been solving a challenge or a problem along the way and then creating a company to go and sort of scale that out. So Megaport was basically a very early days connecting to cloud. So it was data centre to cloud and it turned out that this cloud revolution really did take off and I know Redd, why don’t you spend a lot of your time still helping customers live inside and outside of those clouds. And then it became connecting between clouds and then it became global connectivity and recently global wan. So basically connectivity as a service everywhere on the planet. And we’ve got 800 different locations with over two and a half thousand pieces of technical infrastructure and not a single human runs it. It’s totally code. So in 60 seconds you can connect anywhere on our platform. Yeah, long story, we can go there. But anyway, high level connectivity as a service.


No, that’s awesome. So I do want to unpack that as well, but let’s just start with your journey obviously from enterprise sales to sales leadership to CEO, the transition from CRO to CEO at a company. It’s not always the way you go from sales to A CEO, I guess what helped you along that journey and what was that transition like? I


Spent a lot of time looking at companies to acquire and when you look at Bay Area, a lot of the traditional Bay Area businesses, the Sequoia capital backed, there’s always a sort of a VC journey. And if you look through that, you would have the playbook is find an incredibly talented founder very early when they have an idea typically, and you’d start with some sort of, okay with a little bit of seed funding and then it goes, oh, this is actually interesting. We can create revenue. It becomes series A starts to scale, starts to get big. And what you quite often find are companies that sort of series B, series C series D stages in terms of I’m talking VC raisings for those. Hopefully that makes sense what I’m talking about here. A, B, C, D, it’s letters in the alphabet, it’s also raises in VC rounds.


Once these companies sort of get to that point, you end up seeing a lot of CEO founders inside businesses and the majority, if not all, are technical founders because they’ve usually been incredibly good at creating tech. And so they usually come from a product or an engineering background or even coders and have built the tech and grown into the CEO space. And so I think it’d be unusual to see CEOs that are CROs for very early stage because I think it’s a different type of human to create something and build technology. However, there’s a point where you cross and it depends. It’s once you usually hit product market fit and you need to scale the business globally, you need to go and drive and have a lens around taking product to market. And that’s very much so I think A CRO function suits that. However, this you can sort of go into detail on this one, this sort of concept of CRO, it’s probably only been around by six, seven years, used to be probably head of sales.


And the reason it changed was it all used to be about how do you sell the next thing to the customer. But when the world moved to SaaS and as a service, recurring revenue became the key. And actually the biggest book of recurring revenue is your existing customer base. And actually that’s different to sales, that’s called customer success. And so the CRO function became a mixture of frontline sales like hunting, driving, building net new revenue, but then this recognition that oh my god, the entire revenue stream of the company is sitting here inside this recurring revenue model. And market caps of companies are based on a RR, the recurring revenue component to it. And what’s so important is the first R, if it’s not recurring revenue, it’s not valuable and you won’t get a multiple into that. So to ensure that it’s recurring became this huge trend.


And so CROs or sales folks who are sort of one dimensional who will be like drive a sales culture, forecast, commit, blah blah blah, it’s sort of a one dimensional approach to stepping into actually we care about the entire revenue of the business and that means you actually now have to care about the adoption of whatever it is that you’ve sold. So a really good example is if you’ve got a gym membership that’s actually in theory recurring for me, highly risky for their recurring revenue because I don’t have enough adoption of it, I need to adopt that more. So their focus really for me is to ensure that I get down there and use the membership as opposed to not. So that at the end of the year I resubscribe. And so that is a total mind shift in terms of how we think about businesses.


And so I sort of go into that detail because the breadth and complexity of a true CRO function crosses not just frontline sales but the customer success functions in the business, the channels, the total go to market. It then comes with the finance element, which is your rev ops. And actually arguably the amount of systems and tools that are in the rev stack for an as a service global sales business is very vast and broad, incredibly technical and complex and it will determine the success of the business or not. And so you go, okay, there is a lot of complexity inside that and understanding that machine. And again, if you go back to just a pure sales function, that’s not something most sales folks think about.


You can lend yourself to that. But what we’re talking about now is a much broader leadership role as you step into that CRO piece and the last one’s like finance and hr. And so you end up having a big element, you are driving the revenue for the company and you need to make sure you’re doing that in a way where it’s profitable and sustainable and you’re not burning too much cash and all those other elements to it. And then the HR elements and legal and so forth all sort of tie into that. So what you have is an exposure to 95% of the business. The piece that’s missing is probably one of the biggest, most critical pieces is product and engineering. And that’s what you don’t have as the CRO. And that’s where I would say anyone stepping from. And I think it’s a great path to step from CRO to CEO for a tech speaking specifically for tech businesses here.


Whoever that person is has to be passionate about tech. And actually if you’re a really strong CRO every day you wake up and you think about what is the value that our technology brings to our customers? How’s the competitive landscape? What’s changing? What are our customers asking us for in the future? You can start to with your product and engineering team, if you align incredibly tightly with them, listen to your customers and actually find the future product innovation that you need to bring. And you’ll constantly aligning with do we still add value? Are we priced appropriately? All of those elements. So actually I would say if you’re doing a really good job as a CRO and you actually believe that the CRO role is a mixture of all of these different disciplines and you’re passionate about each one of them, it it’s not too hard a step actually to step into the CEO function.


Really interesting. I feel like I can unpack that for a long time, but we might circle back to it. So I did want to ask you the last 12 months, coincidentally you’ve been in megaport 12 months, these stock prices have gone up about 215%. Obviously you’ve done something really, really well in that time. The recent stock buy being up that much, why in your words from how you see it?


I think that the company’s been through quite a dramatic shift in the past 12 months. And you can see that in our financial reporting. I mean share prices are basically a reflection of whether people see value in the business and usually do they see value in the future of the company. So you’re sort of forward looking at what that looks like. I can’t comment on why folks buy Megaport stock, but I can say that what we do is build what I believe is an incredible company with incredibly resilient revenue streams that constantly solves customer problems, that has an incredibly large addressable market that we have just scratched the surface on. And so long as we can continue to build great tech, solve these customer problems, we have a big space to go after. What was challenging for Megaport was like all tech businesses landed in this really interesting precarious sort of position where life became growth at all costs.


And if you did this podcast three years ago, the message would be nobody cared about profitability. Burning cash was actually a good thing. And in fact, if you weren’t burning cash, you would have a lot of board members of VC backed companies saying, no, you’re not burning enough. And the theory was raise a hundred million, burn it in a year, raise another a hundred million, burn it in a year, raise another, and it was all high fives and smoking cigars. But all of a sudden post covid interest rate rises, the handbrake got pulled on. So many companies globally and Megaport ended up in a position where that we didn’t, well they hadn’t responded fast enough. And so making some small tweaks within the business, which we did a year ago, actually made a really dramatic shift in our financial position. So the first piece was massive and dramatic turnaround from a financial position.


You can see that basically going net cashflow positive in Q4 last year for the very first time in the company’s history. And we’ve been continuing to build and grow on that massive turns around in ebitda, still strong growth inside that time. So it wasn’t like you just cuddle your people out of the organisation, you remain profitable for a very short period of time until everything falls in the heap. That’s not the position. Being able to do both financially, turn it around and actually show that there is an incredible future, I think probably, who knows probably that has a little bit to do with


It. Definitely everyone’s focusing on profitability. So if you can elaborate on this, what were the things you looked at to turn that around from a profitability perspective 12 months ago?


A lot of it is just how you manage. You’ve got two levers, you can either increase revenue, you can decrease costs, and in our case we had an opportunity to be able to do both and we did both at a moment in time. And I think to do that, you’ve got to have a very clear understanding of where you want to take the company. And that’s what I was saying before, if you reduce costs and you cutting through fat through muscle, through bone and then actually you’ve cut the leg off and you can’t continue to operate, you don’t have a future. And so luckily for us, there was a lot of opportunity inside the business just to get it aligned correctly to where we needed to go. And it’s kind of mission, it’s like profitable sustainable growth or profitable efficient growth, whatever you want to refer to it as versus growth at all mindset costs and just pivoting against that with the leadership team and putting folks in place to go and make a difference. It’s been a dramatic turnaround. There is one person left at Megaport in the exec from this time last year to today. Wow, it really is a big turnaround. I’ve


Got a lot of waste. I want to take this conversation, but Noz, where do you want to go first?


Yeah, look Mike, you’ve been a massive supporter of me personally and Redd. So firstly thanking thank you enormously. I think I


Just sit on the sidelines and watch and just cheer you on basically.


Oh mate. Far from it. The more you give, the more you get, right? So full respect to you and everything you’ve achieved with Megaport. And look, it is interesting, something that I think you’ve been passionate about from those many lunches and conversations and meetings we’ve had is like helping business owners or business leaders embrace technology to enhance their lives as well as their organisations. With everything you’ve seen across the world with your time with Cisco a thousand Eyes, what vendors are doing now and what you guys provide is an integral service to our cloud. Our clients can’t function without Megaport like it is oxygen, right? So where do you see, I guess if you’re a leader listening to our podcast where technology has taken them, how do you close that gap? That’s something we see time and time and again people go, oh look, I just don’t understand. What’s your advice to those people listening?


I think they obviously brace tech no matter where it is and it’s scary. I think it’s a scary proposition at any moment in time. Take now is a really good example. AI is absolutely exploding, changing the world. I see a, there’s a huge lack of understanding of what that will be and that’s because we actually dunno what it will be yet. And so what that results in this is a mixture of fear investment I would say. So you see companies globally worried that we’re going to be disrupted not necessarily by AI as such, but by the competitor that embraces AI better than they do. So you see a pivot towards just do whatever it takes got to get in this space. And so I think there is, you definitely have to have a mindset of how do we embrace whatever tech. AI is sort of hot at the moment, but I would say that there’s a lot of tech that’s been around for a long period of time that most companies haven’t yet worked out how to embrace.


So AI is just one piece of this puzzle. It’s just super hot right now. It is really pushing our market. I mean some of the stuff we’re seeing, we have a very global lens of it. The US is moving so fast. I mean the amount of data centres that are absolutely out of capacity but not out of capacity for now, but for the next three years we’re talking about data centres that have been taken private off the nasdaq, have billions of dollars per annum, US invested in them to just build the largest, most insane things you’ve ever seen. And they’re totally full and they’re totally full for the next three years of build. And so it’s just incredible to see what’s happening hyperscalers, even companies like Tesla and Facebook’s and of course there’s Amazon, Google, Azure, et cetera, just can’t buy enough land space. And actually where the problems landed is there’s no shortage of capital, there’s no shortage of companies to go and build these things out.


And if you think of some of the largest names in the world, they’re all building at a rate or knots, the challenge for them is power. And so you see a really interesting dilemma play out right now where, and you see different folks talking about it may push the world towards a different way of delivering power and nuclears come up and it’s a touchy subject. It’s not my area of expertise, but my point is tech brings massive disruption and tech is again doing that right now. So how do you boil that back into, okay, every day I go to work and what do I do? I think look at your business and you would do this a lot. You’d be helping companies automate what makes sense to automate and using technology to do that so that you can hire employees to go and take the company forward versus just do robotic tasks across the business. And so there’s so many you I’m sure you guys could unpack that one a lot deeper than I could, but embrace it I would say is the answer


Hit the nail on the head there. There’s a lot of companies who just see AI and they throw bad money at it, they just go and buy some AI platform when maybe existing system they’ve got is going to release something soon for example. So you have to be careful where you invest, but you need to embrace it as well. So it’s a tricky one over your career, Michael, obviously you’ve been successful, got see you on Megaport, everyone kind of has a superpower, one thing they’re really, really good at but better than everyone else and that’s why they progress. What’s your superpower? If you had to pick something?


I’m usually pretty good at figuring out a multidisciplinary function. So kind of back to that discussion before you can be really, really good in one thing and be outstanding at it. But the challenge when you step into the next role up is that you actually inherit all these other parts of the business which you may never have been passionate about. Something that I’ve always been strong and understand is, alright, what is the actual premise of I’m happy to go deep inside that part particular function of the business, understand what that needs, recognise that that may well not be my strength or the thing that gets me out of bed punching the air, but I’ve always been good at finding the human that is that person that punches the air for that particular function, whatever it may be. A channel person is very different to someone that’s going to drive a frontline sales machine.


An engineering leader is completely different to someone that’s going to go and run your financial side of the business. But when you look at each one, they get out of bed, they punch the air and are super excited about their discipline and then being able to bring that together. So I’ve always sort of been able to find the people that want to punch the air for that discipline and understand that they’ll add value to that discipline. And the only other piece I’d say is I always take what I would say most people would look at and say that looks like a risky decision because I’ve typically put people in those roles who’ve never done that role before. You take our CFO, never been a CFO of an A SX listed company, but she’s amazing. She was right for that path. She’d been running and it was just, it’s what others could say that’s a high risk move because we want to hire someone that’s been doing this for the past 10 years and just sideways move them. I’ve always found that everyone that you invest in and lift into a role gives 200% versus the person that’s just sidestepping into those roles. And I’m not saying you’ve ruled out from a role because you’ve got experience, but my point is I think I’ve always been able to find folks that do that and they’ll come on the journey with you. Everyone inside that


I can say actually for now my last 10 years, a decade, I reckon your superpower is finding and igniting, finding the person that’s going to solve that challenge and igniting the spark to keep that going. So yeah mate, superpower enormous


And getting everyone back on track when they feel like the world’s caving. Absolutely. Yeah.


What do you do to mitigate that risk though? So say you put someone in the position who hasn’t done it before, third party, like you said, someone looks at it as a risky move. Do you pivot pretty quickly if it’s not working or how do you try and mitigate that? I


Think no matter what role, you should always pivot quickly, good or bad. In fact, a great example is I’m a huge fan of promoting incredibly fast. If things are working well as opposed to waiting, okay we’ve got some young talent who’s lifted and shown that they can deliver this, we give them the promotion at the end of the financial year in the next three to four months they’ve lifted 10 x again. Do you wait a year? No, you hit them right there and and you solve for that. So you pivot quick on the up and you pivot quick on when it’s not working. But when it comes to the exec leadership, most of the time you’ve got a very good sense in most of the cases I’ve put people in that I know will be successful. You just know probably the superpower bid, but then you support them through it because every single person comes in with a weakness and we all have weaknesses, every single one of us.


But you’ve got to find how to counteract those weaknesses, acknowledge them and just say, alright, let me just support you, whatever it may be. And a good example, you can find mentors and coaches to help them through the tougher times. The bit that I was sort of saying, I actually really enjoy dropping into an organisation and trying to get my head around that for a period. Marketing’s a great example, it’s a discipline of its own, but being able to drop in and get into the weeds for a period just to help shape that path and then step out so that you actually are adding value when folks have challenges hit trouble and then you get to a point where you’re like, actually it’s not my area of expertise, I can’t help. I’m going to find you the rockstar that I’ve come across in the past and I’m going to connect you.


There’s a lot of the folks at Thousand Eyes and even prior businesses in IOT that have become coaches and mentors for my team now. And they just do that just because it’d be like in fact nij, I’d give you a call and ask you for advice on lots of things. We were making product changes and pricing changes. We were actually, and I was like, I really want your opinion and if you remember my answer was I want you to talk to Cam who runs engineering and product and I want you to work through that with him. Not me but him.


Yeah, you asked all the right questions and you seek the input from the people that it matters. So mate, good on you.


I want to unpack your superpower a little bit. So you said you find a person who gets out of bed punching, not punching the air,


Ideally not punching people, but


Yeah, finding out what it excites them, basically how do you find that person and then what questions do you ask of them to find out what exactly they’re really, really passionate


About? I think people find you as in you have a problem and a challenge, particularly stepping into a new business. I stepped into a new business, it was a big move moving back from the US to Australia. You lose a lot of the ability to have those connections. Time zones changes a lot in terms of what you can access and in fact Brisbane’s a challenging place to deal with East Coast US as an example, possibly the worst time zone. And so when you land, you land with just an army of problems. And I think I had the exec offsite this week and I played a two minute video that Elon Musk did around the CEO role and it was like basically it’s something like it was more related to startups. I think it was running a company or running a startup is like chewing glass and staring into the abyss or something.


That’s his statement now the point of it was actually not that bit. The point was that he says if you’re going to be a CEO of a company, it’s not actually that fun typically, and the reason it’s not that fun is because what you get is the problems, the distilled problems. Let me give you an example. A leader that reports to you has a leader that reports to them, has a leader that reports to them who has a frontline, whatever it may be, doing something. And that person is usually pretty smart that we’ve hired and they find a challenge and it’s a problem and then it goes to the first manager and they’re like, they’re pretty smart. They go, I can’t solve this problem. It goes up and eventually you get up and it comes into my office, which means every single smart person that you’ve hired couldn’t solve that problem and it’s landed in your desk and I don’t have someone to take that problem to.


So you have to solve the problem no matter what it is. So you end up with this scenario where there’s lots and lots of challenges coming in and as that happens, my immediate default is to solve it and find someone or some human here that can actually lift into that and do that. And you find people with challenging times lift and they actually, that great example that I was referring to before, young talent that’s sort of progressing through the amount of problems they’ve solved for the business that no one else seemed to be able to solve that they just got excited about and got into. They’re technically capable but didn’t have an opportunity to do that before. And with the right guidance they could start to deliver and then you just go, that’s amazing. It takes time obviously, but that’s probably they find you




Well you find them out of desperation.


A big part of your success has been obviously sales, right? And that’s where you started in and then evolved through. I wanted to unpack that a little bit from your vision now. How has the sales industry changed over the last 20 years?


Some of it’s changed a lot and some of it’s not changed at all. I think humans has probably been selling for thousands and thousands of years and that won’t change. I think Covid was a dramatic shift out of necessity. I’d say. I used to say the power of the green Amex, the company credit card, it was incredibly powerful for a certain generation of sales folks who spent their time catching up with people, let’s do it over a lunch. I’m going to shout you a nice lunch. You’ve got two hours of time to build a story, a relationship. You can actually leverage the personal relationship significantly more than the tech relationship. My technology is solving incredible challenge that you have or am I solving a relationship and you and I becoming friends and we want to do business and we sort of solve that problem too.


What changed during Covid was we went from this world of all sellers became inside sales folks. Again, they were stuck behind Zoom or WebEx or whatever video conferencing. And when you’re in that space, the Outlook calendar only has 30 minute increments and so that was the time that you had was a 30 minute invite. No one would accept more than a 30 minute invite because that had crossed two bars in my outlook and therefore you’ve got 30 minutes, they’re usually late when they get on because they’re coming off of the last call you get on, you’ve probably got about five to seven minutes maximum to actually pitch the product. There is no Amex involved and so you had to actually sharpen your ability to articulate the value that your product or whatever it is that you’ve got is going to bring and actually understand their paint in that time and then it’s got to be closed with the next action and step. That was just such a dramatic shift away from where I think most people had spent their entire careers sharpening the saw towards longer term relationships over green amexes. You think


It shifted a huge amount from the importance of the relationship to a value kind of conversation during Covid? I definitely noticed that as well. There’s the half an hour blocks and then he would be like, oh, late or busy or kids in the background totally. Or they’d be doing email came in that was urgent while you were on the call kind of stuff. It was pretty horrible and I think I experienced something somewhere people would not turn their camera on as well for a time period where that was wigs and webcams and stuff, it was horrible. But going to a value kind of conversation, I probably did see that as well. And then how have you changed the way you’ve done your lead sales teams, for example over a long period of time now? What did you change the way they do sales?


There’s a lot of changes in terms of if you look at the discipline behind go to markets, and it’s been highly disrupted recently, particularly with AI and systems and tools. And the problem is there’s just an incredible amount of noise versus signal. And I think your chief of happiness said that she’d stalked me on LinkedIn last night. I didn’t notice it because I probably got pummelling by 700 other people ping me with some random thing and most of it’s not humans, it’s some sort of AI thing that’s looked up my title and said, I’m going to write some AI that says, hi Michael, I love Megaport. Think your transformation and the background that you have and blah, blah blah. And it’s just this automatic email. So the problem is you’ve just got an incredible amount of noise. And so this concept of building an SDR outbound function that would tailor messages to drive outbound engagement has gone from being successful over the past sort of 20 years to failing.


And actually you see this across all businesses. They’ve just, it’s nowhere near as easy as it is to outbound and connect or tell the story of your product or platform. And actually we’re sitting around right now doing the one thing that you probably should be doing, which is people coming to you, you’ve got to somehow get companies to come to you as opposed to you going to them. And that’s incredibly hard. And a lot of it is around building something that people want to listen to, that they want to understand and when hopefully they wake up and they go, I’ve got a cybersecurity challenge in my business, I’m going to go to Redd because I know those guys, I feel comfortable with them, I can see what they’re doing. I see the customers that they’ve got, blah, blah, blah. That becomes the future of how to build I guess a sales machine to an extent.


But if I look at some of the platforms that you can leverage, one of my favourite platforms is a company called Gong, GONG, which is it basically has exposed the dark arts of sales by recording every single sales call you have and actually doing AI analytics across that and giving you guidance and feedback on how the call went. I mean imagine we put analytics on this and said, oh Michael, you paused too much. You said I’m this many times you didn’t demo enough, you are talking too much, which is probably what it’s saying right now. You need to shorten down your responses and you need to give more clarity or towards the end of the conversation you’re not bringing up pricing or you’re not mentioning next steps or imagine that coaching on every call all the time. And that’s what you used to get before.


You would have someone who sat next to you in the office, you’d pick up the phone and you’d start making outbound calls and the first thing that you would do is you’d try and listen to what they were saying on the outbound call and then you try and replicate it. And the very first or few calls in the guy next to you would turn to you and be like, I never do that again. What you just said, what you need to do next time is this. And that became the coaching, the mentoring and guiding and it disappeared with Covid where Gong can bring that back, but it can also bring back an understanding at a deep level across the entire company. There’s so many features and value that it brings the broader organisation than just the salesperson. But I say things like that, you have to again, roll with the times, transform with it. People will have an allergic reaction when I say, I’m going to record every one of your calls. It’s the first thing you do, you vomit and then you come back and when you embrace it, you realise it’s the greatest thing. I have reps all the time sending who would’ve said, I never want this on my call. No customer’s ever going to want it too. My customers love this and they send me their calls, check out the greatest call they just


Did. It’s funny you say that. I remember early in my sales career I was managed print door to door is where I kind started and learned. I actually remember when I had discovery calls face to face, you’d literally go knock on a door. I used to ask if I could record on my phone and sit in my pocket in that kind of meeting and then listen to it after and go, what? I say that you idiot and good position this way, but that’s the best way to learn. So that’s interesting. You mentioned Gong is one of those tools. There’s so many sales AI tools out there now. I’m actually not a big fan of the AI personalization stuff out there to be honest. And to be honest, even chat GBT, this is going to sound weird. I’m not a fan of using that for copy and that kind of thing as well because it’s just so generic. It’s just bland, right?


You desensitised from it or Yeah, it’s moved so quickly that as soon as you realise it’s got, I’m thrilled to announce you. You didn’t write that, so you sort of got to write with mistakes. You’ve sort of got to write with,


You want typos, turn Grammarly off you some typos. But yeah, that’s an interesting take and I think you, you’re definitely right that getting face to face with someone is so much more important these days than it was before. It went through this time where Noah one meets face to face and it was reluctant. But I think getting face face is super, super important for that kind of articulating, getting a relationship and so on. I’d say it’s flipped around where it was like face-to-face was the norm, then it was a norm, but now it’s the face-to-face preference again. So


I think it’s a globally, it’s a mix and each country’s different actually. You find cultural differences. Australia has always been incredibly face-to-face. It’s really only three or four cities. It’s Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, I guess. And you’d have someone in Sydney who serve as Sydney and all the offices are in Sydney, someone in Brisbane we’re Twan, that’s five minutes, it doesn’t matter. We can get there in the US as an example, every single person’s been an inside seller forever because no matter which city you’re in, you’re not enough, you’re not close enough. You might be in Chicago, but you also need to be in Dallas and you also might need to be in Bay Area. It’s just too hard. And so you have someone, particularly when you’re an earlier company, you have people servicing different areas. But the funny part is you go, all right, based in San Francisco. Perfect. And so I put our Bay area rep on that. It turns out the network team actually lives in Louisiana.


Very common scenarios. The really? Yeah, I’d say it’s a horses for courses, but it’s been healthy pushing people out of their comfort zone throughout Covid back to be able to harness your pitch in less than 15 minutes. If you can’t get that right, can’t find the customer’s problem, give them some compelling reason to continue and then solve. But now back into a mixture of it where lots of things are partner and channel led as well, where our partnership is a great example. It’s much easier for us to have a relationship like this, but frontline sales is much harder to do that.


How has your sales foundations and background helped in your current CCEO role at Megaport?


I’ll go back to that sort of statement that I said before is that the CRO function becomes a really big disciplinary step. I think the step from being the North American sales leader to the CRO of a company, it’s funny, there’s no role that prepares you for the next role ever in life. You get closer to it, but you never have all the pieces of the puzzle. Actually, the biggest step is going from a North American sales leader or frontline sellers for net new a RR or whatever it may be, to then all of a sudden CRO because you end up having a rev ops team whose day and job is to basically get systems and tools and processes, investments and gong and make sure that the platforms are working. And if that doesn’t work, you can’t actually deliver that machine. That’s such a fundamental shift from leading frontline sellers for your whole career to then going and leading that style of team.


And customer success is a very different animal altogether. And so I’d say making sure that whatever you inherit or whatever you’re looking after, you’re going to have to form some sort of passionate belief on each part of that, know what your strengths are, but be passionate enough to get as deep as you can and it takes time and energy. But if you don’t do that, you can’t pick the right person. You can’t support them when they’re in a challenging position. You could have the wool pulled over your eyes very rapidly or easily. So I think it’s just been passionate about whatever actually falls into your reporting line.


Okay. I wanted to ask on what’s happening next with the next 1224 months, but any question


You want to ask for this? Yeah, look, no, I think it’s a good question. I know we’re going to run out of time. We can talk to Mike forever, part A and part B, part C. But look, I guess with all your insight, and I know you’ve done a lot of travel global company, Michael, where do you see the world going? And I guess for our listeners, which tend to be Australian leaders, business owners, where do you see things happening with the rise of data centres, more interconnections from Megaport, more ai. If you were to crystal ball with your knowledge, what would, and to simplify it into a business owner or a business leader’s language, where’s the next three years going to take us?


Tech spends our life telling the world that we’re going to make your life simpler and easier. And actually the outcome of it is it gets more and more complex and more challenging. And it’s why companies like Redd become so critical to be partnership inside any company. And so if you look at our journey, we were about connecting you from a data centre to a cloud, and 11 years ago there really was one big cloud provider which was AWS. And if you had to predict back then someone could have said, there will only ever be one cloud company. We’ll all just live in AWS. And that’s the future that never plays out ever. Because you always end up in this position where competition rises differentiation between certain things. The rise of Azure has been unbelievable. And I think even in Australia, if you look at the percentages, I think there probably an equal percentage of market share 11 years ago, I mean I don’t think Azure had started.


So the point around that is that it’s constantly evolving and changing. Our journey was to take you from a data centre to a cloud that became the start. And then all of a sudden people go, well, if there’s one cloud to rule them all, that’s a short journey for Megaport because then you just end up with everything in AWS, you no longer need us. But actually what’s happening is the actual opposite. We’re seeing data centres exploding growing faster than ever before. People are trying to move to one cloud and then find out that actually they’re really now multi-cloud two clouds. So they started with AWS and then Azure goes, congratulations, part of your big EA contract, you’re now in Azure. And then I’m sure you’ve got big customers like we’re a Microsoft first shot. Perfect, you’re all in there. And then all of a sudden Google comes along with some ai, something, something and you’re like, this is more complex.


You have to get into that space, otherwise you’re not competitive. Oh my gosh, now you’ve got three. And then Oracle goes, congratulations, you’ve been with us for the last 30 years of database and you’ve now got Oracle Cloud. Now your entire database sits in another cloud that’s not even connected to that cloud. And so Megaport becomes the connector between all those clouds. So it’s sort of from a data centre to the cloud, from a cloud to a cloud. And then what we’ve kind of landed at the moment is we’re becoming the largest network as a service company on the planet because by landing in over 850 data centres and then building this huge network backbone globally, we can get you from one data centre to another. And what’s really interesting about that is the AI revolution right now is demanding massive data shifts between from one data centre to another, and we’re seeing the rise of the next cloud, which is the GPU as a service play.


And that is crazy interesting because NVIDIA is sort of to an extent fragmenting the market even more by having all of these GPU as a service companies appear, but they can only appear in certain number of locations. And so the Megaport story was, we can take you from where you are with your data to wherever you need to get to and you need to get to these GPU as a service clusters via mass connectivity, a hundred gig connectivity across the United States, across the world, wherever that may be, because you need to train a model and it’s costing you a million dollars a month to train the model and it’s saving you X dollars by landing in whichever other place, whatever it may be. And so yeah, the future is constantly complex, but companies like Megaport are trying to simplify and enable that. And again, it’s for us, every sort of premise of every single thing that we build is hyper automated. We’re the only sort of network as a service company that can in 60 seconds connect you to anything on our platform and not a single human is involved. And that’s why we can do that. And there’s not another telco on the planet that can do that. They just can’t. It’s


Really interesting. I think you got a good unique position in the market to be honest. And we’ve seen that. I’ve seen that at the local level in Australia that businesses definitely three to five years ago was transition to a hybrid kind of cloud environment. But I think you’re dead right? Multi-cloud is what Enterprise is doing right now. There’s always a different Oracle thing here or a DS thing here, or maybe some on-prem, some in Microsoft 3, 6 5, and just gets in this complex environment where needing the connectivity across all those platforms, I think Megan Bought’s an awesome


Spot and securing it. That becomes, I think that’s where I look at your cybersecurity written on the wall there, but that’s the more complexity, the more I need to keep up with the pace of the market. It just brings through another cybersecurity risk that can be mitigated but needs to be mitigated. And so then you end up with the complexity gets solved with companies like yourselves to ensure that companies are driving forward incredibly fast.


I think security is definitely one of the things that’s overlooked in terms of getting in new cloud environments, right? Because you have your on-prem staff, then you might be in Azure, but then you dispense a S or whatever else, then you’re like, but the same kind of security controls doesn’t get put in place over here. So that definitely does get overlooked a lot. Con is the time you might wrap up there, Michael, thanks for coming in. You’ve shed a lot of value and had an exciting journey and looking forward to continuing working with Redd and Megaport.


Really personally thank you for everything. Mike, I met you when I started Redd and like you said, it was one person and we didn’t have an office and I remember saying, oh, can I use your boardroom at Cisco? So look publicly, I’d like to acknowledge you’ve been an awesome supporter. You’ve given more and hints the reason why you’re so successful. So mate look owe a lot to you. So I really appreciate your time.


Like I said, I’ve loved watching your success. I came back from after being away for five years or whatever it was, and last time I left Nigel, it was one person and then I walked into an office here with DJ DX and ping pong tables and now we’ve got microphones and Chief Happiness offices and it’s awesome.


Awesome. Thanks everyone for listening.


Thanks Mike. Pleasure. Thanks.



Posted By
Nigel Heyn
Nigel Heyn
Founder & Executive Director
Connect with Nigel on LinkedIn
Nigel Heyn is a passionate, business and technology centric entrepreneur. With a natural instinct drawn towards technology, Nigel, under the guidance of his father, successfully built his first desktop computer at the age of 8. This started a journey of research, innovation and technology exploration that continues today. Nigel has successfully built several companies, all underpinned by the desire to leverage technology smarts in order to positively influence business models and realise stakeholder dreams. Leveraging a vast network of global contacts established over many years, Nigel thrives on learning what best practices exist in order to provide digital excellence for his clients'​ successes. In order to achieve true success, Nigel understands the importance of building a team of the best talent available and thus welcomes the opportunity for those sharing similar dreams to reach out and be a part of the vision. In the words of Walt Disney, “If you can dream it, you can do it”!
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