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Front’s CEO on Meetingbird acquisition and building strong company culture



Mathilde Collin
Front CEO Mathilde Collin

  • Front is a shared inbox product that works just like email
    and is used by companies like Stripe, Shopify, and Dropbox
    to manage conversations with customers. 
  • On Tuesday, Front announced it will further its mission to
    make work more enjoyable by acquiring the calendar software
    startup, Meetingbird. 
  • The acquisition is the company’s first and represents a big
    milestone for first-time CEO Mathilde Collin who co-founded Front
    in Paris, France in 2013. 
  • Front has raised over $79 million in hopes of disrupting
    competitors in the space like Zendesk. 

Mathilde Collin, the French CEO and co-founder of Front, got her
inspiration from her first job.

Collin was working at a software company that provided customers
with tools for creating contracts. She realized that contracts,
however useful, were not something that most employees use every
day in their jobs.

“I wasn’t using contracts at work, I was using email,” Collin
told Business Insider in a recent interview. 

So email was the first area where Front decided to make its mark
with the launch of a shared inbox product in 2013.

More than 3,500 businesses around the world now use Front’s
product to help streamline internal email and email
communications with customers. The service has become
especially  in-vogue among tech companies — with Stripe,
Shopify, and Dropbox using its platform today — and presents a
competitive threat to companies like Zendesk. 

On Tuesday, Front added another piece to its goal of offering a
tool that people use everyday at work with the acquisition
of Meetingbird, a
Khosla-backed calendar software company. 

Collin says that deeper calendar integration was the top feature
requests from customers, who waste time having to schedule events
outside of their inbox. The acquisition also made sense from a
cultural perspective, as both companies have been part of Y
Combinator (Front in Spring 2014 and Meetingbird in Spring

“The thing I care the most about is that I want to have an impact
on how people work because they spend so much time at
work,” Collin told us. “Email was the right place to start
because it is so core to work. But email is very related to

Collin would say how much Front paid to acquire

Front has raised over $79
in funding. It’s most recent round — a $66
million series B in January — was led by Sequoia Capital. 

A new home for Front 

The acquisition is the company’s first and a significant
milestone for the 29-year-old CEO and her co-founder/CTO
Laurent Perrin after starting Front from Paris, France in

From the beginning, Front has focused on bringing more
transparency to email within the workplace. Its product can be
used by multiple teams within an organization — like customer
service teams and operations teams — without messages getting
siloed and forgotten. Front also allows for more personal
interaction with customers (its messages read no different than
standard emails), as opposed to other platforms that assign a
ticket number to each response. 

A lot of companies, Collin tells us, don’t want to refer to
customer interactions as “ticket number 12345.” 

The first-time CEO and her co-founder came to the San Francisco
six months after starting Front from Paris because most of its
customers were located in the US. Before that, Collin had never
traveled outside of Europe.

Front was accepted into the prestigious startup accelerator, Y
Combinator, in Spring 2014 and upon graduation, Collin and team
were able to raise a $3.1 million seed round. 

She hasn’t moved back since. 

Becoming a leader

Through YC, Collin was introduced to mentors that have helped her
grow into her new role of leading a company that now has over 100
employees. Patrick Collison — the CEO of Stripe — has been
one of her most important mentors. 

“I met [Collison] four years ago, and he’s believed in me and the
company,” she tells us. “Since then, it’s been helpful to have
someone that’s much more successful than I am, always talking
with him about what I’m doing well and not doing well.”

Part of that growth as a young CEO is continuing to focus on
company culture.

In Collin’s first job out of college, she also tells us that the
culture was not so good and that it was something she wanted to
reimagine when starting Front. 

With over 50 reviews on
, 100% of people would recommend working at Front to
a friend, and 100% approve of the CEO. 

“My happiest moments at Front are when I’m doing a 1:1 with
someone and they tell me that they’re happy that they came back
from vacation because they like working here or that it’s the
best working experience they’ve ever had,” Collin says. “Nothing
can make me happier than that.” 

The strong esprit de corps is the result of various workplace
practices at Front. The most unusual but perhaps her favorite,
Collin tells us, is that every six months employees will organize
a musical inside the office. 

“Everyone in the company is either singing or playing an
instrument or playing a character,” she explains. “It creates
such an amazing culture because people are accepting to be very
vulnerable in front of their colleagues.” 

Given the company’s French roots, Collin says their rendition
of Les Misérables was the most memorable so far. 

In December, Front employees will perform a mash-up of Disney

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