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The face of Addepar leaves the company amid intrigue about just where it stands with the RIA market

Mike Paulus was company president during its formative time and exemplified its faith in youth

Author Kelly O'Mara March 24, 2014 at 3:33 AM
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Mike Paulus (r.) being interviewed by Bill Winterberg: It was a very long and smooth transition. (photo courtesy of Winterberg.)


J. L. Livermore

J. L. Livermore

March 24, 2014 — 10:58 PM


I like Tim’s “toe dipper” euphemism for “cheap”. This could be the cause of Addepar’s lack of disruptive success, but I think it goes far beyond that. The attitude “we are geniuses and we’re here to help you because we know better” exuded by Addepar is not attractive to a largely conservative industry.

Addepar has failed to identify with the average RIA. The average RIA is over 50 years of age; has a vested interest in not changing things if they are not looking to scale; is fully entrenched with Microsoft technologies; loves Excel; thinks of Outlook as a viable CRM and subscribes to what I will call old-fashioned stereo-type of what a professional services company should look and behave like.

VC may be impressed with the brilliant, free-thinking, undisciplined t-shirt-wearing-20-something skateboarding down the hall while contemplating the next algo. However, this is not what most in our industry would care to know about let alone see. Our industry is conservative by nature, it likes to see stability in its environment as it battles the instability of global markets.

One thing that VC and RIA do share is their view of “the team”. And if the executive, sales & marketing team seems weak or immature it doesn’t matter how great the tech is. While it might be cool that the worker bees are from the top 1% of their graduating class, generally speaking we don’t care. The techies are there to build and keep the machine operating. And while it might be impressive to claim a bull pen of 80 of the nation’s top engineers. That burn rate is not sustainable without a seasoned and savvy executive team out in front leading the charge and building the relationships through trust – not tech-wow.

I believe it is Addepar’s choices of executive, sales and marketing team members will make or break them in the end. I suggest they forget the assumptions regarding this industry and spend some time listening and take heed to the adage that “old age and cunning will overtake youth and vigor” especially in this industry.


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