Chris Cabrera is the founder and CEO of Xactly, a leading incentive compensation management software suite for companies of any size. He has more than two decades of successful senior management experience at both early-stage and public companies and has managed sales, marketing, operations and business development. He is also the co-author of “Xactly Sales Compensation for Dummies.” Prior to founding Xactly Corporation, Cabrera was the senior vice president of operations for Callidus Software. Before joining Callidus Software, he ran North American channel sales at Silicon Graphics. Cabrera earned a bachelor of science degree in business administration with an emphasis in entrepreneurship from the University of Southern California, and a master’s degree in business administration from Santa Clara University.
Sramana: Chris, let’s get started by reviewing your background. Where do you come from? What are the roots of your entrepreneurial journey?
Chris Cabrera: I grew up as one of five kids. Originally I was brought up in Boston, although my family moved a lot. I moved to Northern California for high school. My father was a serial entrepreneur at a time when being an entrepreneur meant you were a bootstrapped entrepreneur. My household was very entrepreneurial. I worked with my dad every summer in his office.
Sramana: Were your siblings also entrepreneurial?
Chris Cabrera: My younger brother and I have pursued entrepreneurial paths. My older brother is an attorney, and my sisters did not do much in the entrepreneurial path.
Sramana: What about college?
Chris Cabrera: I followed my older brother and wen to USC. I graduated from their business school and went through their entrepreneurship program. Eight years after graduation, I was working at Silicon Graphics. They paid for me to get my MBA at an night school. I earned my undergrad in 1988 and I graduated from Santa Clara in 1997.
Sramana: By the time you graduated from Santa Clara, the Internet was in full swing.
Chris Cabrera: Netscape had come out and all of those things. It was a time when the Internet started getting hot. I left SGI in 1997 because the writing was on the wall. After that I had a short stint at a software company before I heard about a software company that was starting up with plans to address the compensation market. Having been in sales my entire career, I was intrigued that someone was tackling the problem of reps getting paid accurately. I went to work for that company, Callidus Software, in late 1998.
Sramana: Did that company make it?
Chris Cabrera: It is still public today. I spent seven years there. I was a member of the sales organizations. I went out and sold the first few customers and ultimately took over the entire sales effort as the VP of sales and later the SVP of operations. I ran worldwide sales, marketing and business development. My teams took the company from zero revenue to a $100 million run rate. We took the company public in 2003, one of the first companies to do so after the bubble had burst. It was my impetus to go and create Xactly.