Former sell-sider Nate Pollack joined webcasting and virtual event platform operator ON24 in August 2021, just months after the San Francisco-based company raised more than $420 mn in its NYSE IPO, giving it a valuation of more than $3 bn.
Prior to ON24, Pollack had worked in IR at companies Stitch Fix, Forescout Technologies and Symantec. Before his move into investor relations, he worked on the sell side in equity research roles at Lehman Brothers, Barclays Investment Bank, ICAP, CRT Capital Group and Oppenheimer & Co.
What appealed to you about this role?
Working in IR requires you to truly believe in a company’s vision and strategy, and ON24’s role at the epicenter of tectonic changes in B2B sales and marketing was really fascinating to me. At ON24, IR also has a real seat at the table to help shape the strategic direction of the company and be a change agent.
You have a sell-side background. Why did you decide to move to IR and how do your sell-side skills benefit you?
I chose to move into IR because, while I loved the analytical part of my job on the sell side, I was seeking out a role that could have real impact.
My sell-side background benefits me a great deal, though: through it I gained the ability to go deep into financial statements, an intuitive understanding of markets and an appreciation of the nuances and value of developing relationships with investors.
Has the job lived up to your expectations so far?
Yes, working in IR has exceeded my expectations and has been incredibly rewarding. With any job, there are certainly highs and lows.
I knew investor relations could be challenging – for example, when you have to deliver unexpected and disappointing news to the market. But I’ve also felt an amazing sense of accomplishment seeing firsthand the results of our strategy.
What was it like to start a job during a global pandemic? How much of the position has been remote versus in person so far?
Starting a job during the pandemic was challenging at first but I have learned to adapt. To be a successful IRO, you really need to learn the business inside and out and I’ve found that the best way to do that is having coffee or lunch with, say, an engineer or a marketer to get a full download of – and free-flow conversation about – his/her area.
In-person meetings also help develop the relationships needed to be successful in the IR role, so when I started this job during the pandemic, I made an extra effort to connect virtually with as many colleagues across functions as possible.
ON24 is headquartered in San Francisco and we are still full-time remote working [as of January 2022]. I have managed to go into the office about two dozen times over the past six months, however, and I’m looking forward to getting to meet more people in person in the future.
What does your typical day look like?
While IR has its busy seasons, no two days are ever really the same. But most days for me start pretty early at 6.00 am or 7.00 am as I keep abreast of markets and pore through a variety of news sources. IR is a role where you need to be flexible because priorities can shift quickly – so while my morning could be filled with meetings, I might need to shift those to deal with a fire drill.
What’s been the biggest challenge and the biggest highlight in the job so far?
The market really came to us in 2020, driving 100 percent growth in our annual recurring revenue, and we went public on the NYSE in February 2021. While that 100 percent growth was fantastic, it brought a new set of challenges. I have been working hard to educate investors on the long-term vision of the company and why it will lead to durable growth.
The highlight of the job has been working with such an amazing and dedicated team that truly values diversity of opinion and continuous innovation. We have been around for 20 years but we are still founder-led and it still very much feels like a start-up.
This article originally appeared in the Spring 2022 issue of IR Magazine.