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Turning the page on Textio’s story

I’m filled with gratitude as I share today I’m stepping down as CEO of Textio and moving into the role of Chief Scientist Emeritus. Jensen Harris, Textio’s co-founder and my top partner in all things, has been unanimously appointed as next CEO by the board.

Kieran and Jensen in 700 Broadway Lobby

When Jensen and I started Textio, our founding intention was to build software that helped hundreds, thousands, and eventually millions of people have better experiences at work. We especially wanted our software to create opportunities for people who usually don’t have them.

Nine years later, it is amazing what Textio has achieved. It hasn’t been easy. But in a landscape where most startups don’t make it, Textio has built something of lasting value. Nine years in, our software has created opportunities and changed lives. Along the way, we have been at the forefront of machine learning and AI innovation, and especially at the forefront of using this technology ethically. Textio’s team, our customers, our partners, and all of our supporters have all helped to create this movement.

When we launched Textio Loop in 2014, our intention was to create more inclusive recruiting practices, but we had always planned on extending Textio’s influence in HR. Nine years in, Textio Lift is going to be the biggest thing we’ve ever built — its potential to impact truly millions of people is unlike anything we’ve made before. In 2023, we saw 100% of early Lift customers renewing, 7x growth in Lift revenue, and we’ve barely started.

As with any company, when you pull back and look at all that progress, behind the curtain is a lot of difficult, tiring work. The last four years have been an unusually difficult time to work, take risks, and lead. It’s a testament to both our product value and our team that Textio has endured.

For Textio to accelerate into our potential, we need leaders who can bring the focused energy that we need to not just survive but thrive. For all we’ve done, most of our potential impact is still in front of us.

I spent a lot of time at the end of the year reflecting whether I’m the right CEO to take Textio into this next wave. Textio is my company, and its impact and success are deeply personal for me. I don’t just want Textio to not fail. I want us to succeed in huge, outsize ways. And if I’m being honest, nine years in, I need some time to recharge. Textio’s success is much too important to me to show up with only part of the energy required to effectively lead.

Over the last several weeks, I shared my feelings with Jensen and the rest of the board. Jensen and I, along with our investors, are passionate about Textio’s future. And so while there’s no easy time for me to step down, possibly the best moment is now: with a strong team, a phenomenal product that has a bright future, and a solid operating position.

When we started Textio, Jensen and I weren’t sure which of us should be CEO and which should be CTO. Both of us had backgrounds that set us up for both roles. I have a PhD in NLP and built my career in R&D; that’s unusual for a CEO. Jensen has led huge organizations and built products that serve not just millions of people, but billions; that’s extremely uncommon for a CTO. We are extremely lucky to have a world-class executive of Jensen’s caliber on our founding team.

As Jensen takes on the CEO role, I am not parting ways with Textio and I remain on the board. While I’ll be taking a step away from day-to-day operations and leadership effective today, my role as Chief Scientist Emeritus will keep me involved with the team on some of our most important work — product development and data-driven research.

To our team, our customers, our partners, and supporters: It is a privilege to have had the opportunity to work with you all and to lead Textio these last nine years. Thank you for everything you have given me. Textio has provided some of the most meaningful and impactful work of my life.

I’m incredibly grateful to the leadership team and especially to Jensen. I can imagine no better CEO for the next chapter of Textio’s journey.

In the coming weeks, Jensen will share his vision for accelerating Textio into its next phase of potential. I’m so excited for you all to get to know him more.

With appreciation and love,


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