A new Fronteer for a new frontier

Mathilde Collin

Mathilde Collin,

Executive Chair & Co-founder at Front

25 March 20240 min read

Announcing Dan O’Connell as the new CEO of Front

I’m honored to share that I’ll be stepping into the role of Executive Chair for Front, and that I’ve hired Dan O’Connell as our new CEO. Below is the email I shared with Fronteers earlier today. It captures all the details, so in the spirit of #transparency I am sharing it in its entirety: 

Hi everyone,

You heard me say it during all-hands: Dan O’Connell is joining as Front’s new CEO! He’ll start on April 15th and will officially become CEO on May 1st. I’ll be Executive Chair from then on. 

Back in September, I started a search for a board member. Even though we had strong momentum, I was looking for a fresh perspective to provide guidance and ensure we were ready to navigate the challenges of the next few years. That’s how I met Dan. He impressed me so much that a different idea started to sprout in my mind: could he do the CEO job better than I could? The thought was scary. How could someone be a better fit for a role and company that I had created and dedicated the past 10 years to? But when I put on my low-ego hat, I realized that the best decision I could make as CEO was to hire him to replace me. I love this company more than words can tell. And this is why I’ve hired Dan: because I believe he’s the best for Front and for you.

After working with him, I know you’ll come to the same realization, but in the meantime here are the specific areas where I believe he’ll make a difference:

1. Scale experience. Dan was a driving force in taking Dialpad from $30M in ARR to more than $200M today. I’m sure that with enough time I could learn the hard-earned lessons from him and others. But at this stage and in this market, speed matters. And Dan’s direct experience is immediately available for him to tap into: he’ll push us to new heights faster than I could have.

2. Customer service experience. Dialpad sells a fully-featured Contact Center. It’s more focused on Voice than Front will ever be, as that’s where they started, but they have in common that they’re omnichannel, collaborative platforms sold to Customer Service leaders. As Dialpad’s former CRO for 2.5+ years, Dan can help us see around corners as we scale our GTM efforts with this audience, and he’s got the context to help us shape a winning roadmap beyond AI. 

3. AI expertise. Dan was the CEO of TalkIQ, a Salesforce Ventures-backed real-time speech recognition company started 10 years ago, way before it was cool. Today, Dialpad is one of the few players with all in-house, proprietary AI models and infrastructure. Across multiple companies, Dan has accumulated a treasure trove of insights on what AI can and can’t do, and more importantly, what it should and shouldn’t do. Front will benefit tremendously from that.

4. Operational excellence. We have the right focus, an outstanding team, and rock-solid foundations. What it takes to get to the next level is to make a million decisions, big and small, in record time. It requires building an operating cadence where people are empowered to make decisions, following consistent standards, so that the whole organization can move swiftly. This takes a focused mind that can picture the path ahead and speak in clear terms. Seeing is believing, but trust me: Dan thrives at this.

5. New perspective and new energy. After 10 years at the helm, I’m sure I’ve developed some blind spots. I’m sure there are things you wished were done differently at Front, and you’re quite possibly right. Dan will come in with fresh eyes and breathe new life into our work. I’ve already seen him do this on a number of fronts with the rest of our exec team. I have confidence that Dan is already building a high-trust environment with them that will help this new energy reach every corner of Front.

Dan and I will work together to define the ideal role for me as he onboards, but what I do know is in my new role as Executive Chair:

  • I’ll sit on the board and advise Dan using my 10 years of experience running this company.

  • I’ll be Front’s evangelist, talking to customers more than before, and making sure their voice is heard loudest internally.

  • I’ll spend more time on thought leadership, an area of work I love but that the operational duties of CEO had made impossible for me to spend time on.

Now I’ll allow myself to be emotional for a minute and share how I feel. First, I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve built, you and me together. From our culture, to our people, our product and our customers, I wouldn’t have wanted any other way. When I started this journey ten years ago, I couldn’t have dreamed of building such a remarkable company. Second, I feel deep gratitude. We’re here today because of you. As CEO, I get a lot of credit and thank yous. Every time, I remind myself that I could not have done any of this without you. I’m also thankful for all our customers: the ones who trusted us early on; the ones who took the time to share feedback, because they cared and knew we cared too; and the more quiet ones who rely on us to do their work, and in the process give meaning to everything we do. Third (and finally), I’m excited. The more I got to know Dan, the more the unknowns about the future of Front fell away. We’ve made it through the last few years a stronger company than we’ve ever been. I cannot wait to see Dan build on this momentum with all of you. 

Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart, and long live Front!


Written by Mathilde Collin

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