Accela, the nearly two decade old gov tech startup dreaming of finding new life as a problem solver for the sharing economy, brought in a new CEO to replace Maury Blackman who served as the company’s anchor since 2007. During Blackman’s tenure, the SaaS company brought a number of open data and regulatory management solutions to market for governments.
Mark Jung, the incoming heir to the company, has a record on the tech executive circuit. He has served on the boards of over a dozen companies, many of them tech startups, and highlights no more than 11 acquisitions on his resume. We sat down with Jung to get an idea of his vision for Accela and what he will be bringing that Blackman could not.
According to Jung, the biggest change from Blackman’s house to his is “constant innovation.” This is an odd claim referencing a former executive who seemed to be in the process of realigning his company to serve municipalities facing 21st century regulatory problems originating from the proliferation of services like Uber and Airbnb.
Jung says he is still squarely focused on “integrating with compliance,” and wants Accela’s services to “excel at being modular and configurable.” Jung joined the 17 year old private company last year as a consulting advisor before formally coming on to the board in March of this year.
This timeline fits nicely around a large $143 million round of financing the company took back in 2015. The majority of that round was dedicated to a secondary transaction. The company brought in a new private equity investor to replace an old investor that wanted liquidity.
When asked about the potential for an IPO, Jung invoked the SEC that prohibits him from discussing plans, but noted he has taken two companies public that he founded in the past.
“That [going public] is not the highest priority of the company,” added Jung. ” We are growing on top line and bottom line but need systems and processes in place to accommodate new growth.”
Government contracts, like those Accela has with many states and local municipalities, have very low churn rates. Accela has traditionally worked to build SaaS solutions to help governments manage regulatory filings and licensing documents for things like land use permitting and marijuana licensing. The company’s systems are being used for the later today in Colorado. More than 70 percent of the 50 largest U.S. cities use Accela software.
But to maximize the chances of a healthy acquisition or public offering, the company really wants to lock down the municipal tech regulation space. This not only includes obvious offenders like Uber and Airbnb, but companies like Amazon as they look toward using drones and robots for delivery.
“We need to be the broker and arbitrator between high flying billion dollar companies and cities,” explains Jung.
This ultimately means building out relationships with tech companies as well as governments. Unicorns like Uber are willing to pull out of cities that they don’t feel share their vision for innovation.
With an infusion of some new executives, Jung hopes his company can build out and execute on those relationships as soon as a year from now — perhaps even integrating inside popular apps for one-tap filings.