LivePerson CEO Marks 20 Years as a Public Company with Letter to LivePerson Community

NEW YORK, April 7, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- LivePerson Founder and CEO Robert Locascio published a letter to the LivePerson community, including employees, customers, shareholders, to mark the company's 20th anniversary of becoming a public company. LivePerson, Inc. (Nasdaq: LPSN), a global leader in conversational solutions, went public on April 7, 2000. The full letter is published below.

To Our Employees, Customers, Shareholders, and Communities:

A month ago, I was looking forward to the 20th anniversary of LivePerson's IPO with great excitement, thinking of all the amazing people over the past 20 years that were instrumental in building our company and the letter I would write to commemorate the celebration. I couldn't have imagined how much would change in four weeks and that I would write this letter devastated by the fact that a notable twenty-three year old employee from our Seattle office passed away from COVID-19. There are no words to express this unfathomable loss and the impact on his family, friends, and colleagues at LivePerson. Our world view has shifted, as we are reminded that we are living with tremendous uncertainty driven by an invisible enemy that can attack us and our loved ones.

Amidst this crisis, Liveperson's employees continue to move forward with force. We all get up in the morning and give our precious energies and time to our LivePerson endeavors even from our home offices. This is true courage — defined as "strength in the face of pain and grief."

Today's current events take me back to when we went public, as it was also a time of great crisis with the implosion of the dotcom bubble, followed later by the tragedy of 9/11. Perhaps the best way to recognize our 20th anniversary is to share some important lessons I learned during and following our IPO. These remain my guideposts when charting uncertain waters such as the current global health crisis.

First and foremost, when faced with adversity, you can choose to be a hero. LivePerson went public twenty years ago on April 7th, 2000, joining over 8,000 other public companies. The day was a blur in many ways as the dotcom bubble was beginning to burst. In fact, the market conditions were so dismal that we were one of the last dotcom companies to ever go public, and even that didn't go smoothly. We were forced to cut our offering back from raising $60 million to $32 million dollars and priced the offering at $8.00 per share, giving us around a three-hundred million dollar market cap. What is astonishing is that out of the 8,000 companies that were public at that time, only 4,000 remain today. Not surprisingly, with that many companies gone, the average tenure of a public company CEO is around five years. One's ability to manage through adversity is probably the most important factor in overcoming these dismal stats. I've found that, when faced with adversity, one can either find their inner hero or follow the herd. Discovering one's inner hero pushes us to do the right thing even if it causes overwhelming self-doubt and short-term pain. At times, it even requires letting go and "loosening our grip" to a higher power. One of the greatest gifts I have received as the CEO of LivePerson is watching our employees find their inner heros. I've found that in times of crisis, the will of a person to do good has so much more power than the skills outlined on their LinkedIn profile. This was the case after the dotcom bust, in the aftermath of 9/11, and is still true today.

Second, empathy is critical to leading through a crisis. A year after we went public, we dropped to around $0.40 a share or a fifteen-million dollar market cap. The painful restructuring of the company was a massive uphill battle, and the stress and uncertainty was exacerbated by 9/11. I remember the day after 9/11, we gathered all our employees, and one of our executives gave a "motivational speech" focused on increasing sales and productivity so as not to be defeated by terrorism. At the moment, I thought it was a good message as it seemed to tap into the basic human emotion of fight or flight. I was wrong. It was the right message at the wrong time and employees were hurt and angered by his comments. This taught me a valuable lesson: lead through the lens of empathy during a crisis. We all get so focused on critical tasks during a crisis that we forget people are coming from a place of fear. Empathy, at its core, requires careful listening and the understanding of what another person is feeling. It is one of the greatest human qualities that can combat fear and propel us beyond a crisis.

Third, an unimaginable crisis creates a path to helping others. In September 2001, LivePerson faced an unimaginable crisis as we watched the Twin Towers fall from our office windows. The loss of life was staggering. The economic peril seemed insurmountable. The stock traded around $0.10 per share that day with a market cap of three-million dollars. By the end of 2001, with only forty employees, we reached our goal of generating positive cash flow. We survived, but that was not our greatest achievement. Our greatest decision was to launch our non-profit Feeding NYC — an initiative that fed seventy families living in shelters on the Thanksgiving following 9/11. We were so grateful that we survived and felt inclined to help those with their own unimaginable challenges. Since that time, we have fed over 70,000 families.  I have always found that no matter how bad a situation is for oneself, there are always others who are much less fortunate that we can help.

As we look to the future, I am confident that the last twenty years have prepared us to face whatever we may encounter during this current global crisis and beyond. I am also proud that we are currently providing platforms to hospitals, medical professionals, and other critical services — in addition to the world's largest banks, telcos, and broadband providers — at a time when connection with the public is critical. LivePerson's services are essential to our customers and the current state of the world.

In closing, there's a poem that I would like to share that may capture what we all went through while at LivePerson, it is our Ithaka. Poem: Ithaka, by C. P. Cavafy

Best,
Rob

Ithaka, by C. P. Cavafy
As you set out for Ithaka
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don't be afraid of them:
you'll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won't encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope your road is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you enter harbors you're seeing for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn and go on learning from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you're destined for.
But don't hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you're old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you've gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you wouldn't have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won't have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you'll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

About LivePerson, Inc.
LivePerson makes life easier for people and brands everywhere through trusted conversational AI. Our 18,000 customers, including leading brands like HSBC, Orange, GM Financial, and The Home Depot, use our conversational solutions to orchestrate humans and AI, at scale, and create a convenient, deeply personal relationship — a conversational relationship — with their millions of consumers. LivePerson was named to Fast Company's World's Most Innovative Companies list in 2020. For more information about LivePerson (NASDAQ: LPSN), please visit www.liveperson.com.

Media Contact: Mike Tague, (415) 408-5607, mtague@liveperson.com

SOURCE LivePerson, Inc.