Clyde has big plans in store for 2021, and to kick things off we're proud to announce the appointment of John Caplan to our board of directors.
Caplan, the current President of Alibaba North America & Europe, brings over two decades worth of executive experience to the Clyde team. Caplan served as the President of About.com from 1998 through 2001, before accepting the role of CEO at Ford Models, Inc. in 2002. During his tenure with Ford Models, Caplan grew sales and revenue figures by 5x before a successful sale to Stone Tower Equity Partners in 2007.
In 2009, Caplan founded the company OpenSky, a social shopping marketplace that helped people discover, buy and share unique goods that matched their individual taste. OpenSky was later acquired by Alibaba Group in 2017, a successful startup exit that also included Caplan’s appointment as the President of Alibaba North America & Europe. He currently leads Alibaba’s growth and globalization initiatives in the company’s pursuit of becoming the singular operating system for global trade.
“We are thrilled to add John Caplan to the Clyde family, not only as a board member but also as an invaluable mentor to our business,” said Clyde CEO, Brandon Gell. “John’s track record as both a leader and entrepreneur in the eCommerce space makes him an ideal thought partner as we scale our business in 2021.”
“I love working with companies that are passionate about solving problems,” said Caplan. “It’s clear to me that Clyde and its growing team are determined to streamline the product ownership experience for companies and customers while generating substantial value for everyone involved. It’s an exciting time to be joining this company and its thriving culture.”
We sat down with John over the holidays to discuss what drew him to Clyde and why he’s so excited for what lies ahead.
What drew you to Clyde?
It starts at the top and when I met Brandon, I was struck by just how brilliant and thoughtful he was. And then there was the opportunity angle. When you think about an industry like the warranty space, these are the kinds of industries where business has been done one way for seemingly a hundred years. So to change that, you need some who deeply understands how the industry works, but also someone who possesses the vision to imagine a better and more interesting approach to the business. Brandon and his team possess that rare combination.
How can you impact Clyde right away?
As an independent board member, I view myself as an advocate for customers, for the team, and for the shareholders. From a customer perspective, I want to be an advocate for a streamlined and straightforward warranty experience, because online sales are exploding. In the matter of a few years, we’ve gone from 10 percent of all sales being done online to 20 percent, and China is outpacing that considerably with numbers approaching 40 percent. That’s where we’re headed, and we need intuitive and ease-to-use warranty programs to support that growth. So in a way, I’m advocating for that customer need.
From a Clyde team perspective, you want to grow and evolve quickly in a rapidly changing eCommerce landscape. My experience with Alibaba grounds my view on what’s possible. Three years ago Alibaba was essentially a yellow page directory of factories largely based in China. In 2020, Alibaba did $24 billion in transactions, because we changed the product to meet the needs of buyers and sellers. In a similar way, Clyde helps merchants create more value for their customers without them having to do a lot more work or spend more money.
What is the core opportunity for product warranty providers like Clyde in 2021?
As an outsider, it appeared to me that the online warranty space was undefined, opaque and in a lot of ways confusing to customers. “What do I need to do to redeem my warranty?” When people don’t have a direct answer to that question, it’s easy for them to lay blame at the feet of companies and subsequently their insurance and technology providers. That’s the problem right now, but that sets up the solution and opportunity for Clyde. By communicating clearly and creating a top-notch experience that is simple and easy to use, you can pave over that mistrust and frustration very quickly. In the end, this goes back to empathizing with the customer and identifying their pain points. If Clyde can create a great experience for the end user, the entire process of improving and scaling this company in the coming year will becoming achievable.