Jack Newton tells all about Clio’s journey to becoming a cloud-based centaur

The CEO credits customer obsession and long-term growth planning as key factors behind the company's success.

Exactly how does a business thrive in the face of an industry-wide crisis? If you ask Clio’s CEO and co-founder Jack Newton, it’s the legaltech company’s focus on long-term growth and customer success that earned it centaur status in the face of what venture capital firm Bessemer Venture Partners calls the SaaSacre of 2022—a 40 percent drop in public cloud stocks.  

“It takes a while to become a US$100 million revenue company,” says Newton, who credits Clio’s growth trajectory to being a remote business. Upon launching in 2008, Clio carved out a niche for itself as the first cloud-based legal practice management software in the market. “If it weren’t for the emergence of the cloud, I don’t think we would’ve had that same market opportunity to capitalize on a really important technology shift,” he maintains.  

There was pent-up demand for such a product, as demonstrated by the role that clients played in Clio’s evolution. By establishing a high net promoter score (NPS), which is a measure of customer loyalty—and which, in this case, means having a customer base that refers other lawyers looking for practice management software to Clio—the company was able to attract clients from over 100 countries around the world, according to Newton. “That high NPS drives high net retention, it drives high referrals and I think that’s really the foundation of many centaurs’ success—that relentless customer obsession.” 

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In fact, if you’re a cloud-based tech company looking to climb the ladder, Newton recommends planning for long-term growth and relying on those you serve. “How do you build an organization that can thrive over the course of a decade? It means investing in culture and ensuring that you’ve got a great work environment,” he adds. The philosophy is the same for customers and company talent: focus on their success by fostering a space for high-performing employees to grow and ensuring that you’re delivering great outcomes. That way, you’re bound to grow as a business. “Have the conviction that if you help your customers win, you’re going to win along with them,” says Newton.  

The next milestone for the firm is to push revenues to $1 billion. With a series of product innovations—including updated payment methods, a virtual drive for legal professionals to collaborate on, an expansion of its digital court form library, as well as a mobile/desktop app to communicate and update cases through—Clio’s metamorphosis is well on its way.