Mikkel Svane is the decade-long running Chief Executive Officer of global customer service software provider Zendesk. The serial entrepreneur, author, speaker and co-founder has sat on the board of directors of the Silicon Valley-based company since August 2007, and was appointed its Chairman in January 2014.
The Danish-borne tech executive launched Zendesk with Morten Primdahl and Alexander Aghassipour in 2007 with the goal of improving customer service through higher engagement and better insights, while democratizing access to easy-to-use software.
In his book, “Startupland,” Mikkel writes, “Sexy stuff happens when you make mundane things easy and accessible. Any aspect of democratization is a good thing.” The CEO particularly points to novel ideas that disrupted once “uncool” industries such as Square’s revamping of the retail credit card payments space and Amazon’s ability to run with the “boring” idea of taking brick-and-mortar bookstores online.
Svane hasn’t always led Zendesk the traditional way. The CEO says he was “chastised” for openly speaking about his “four-day, LSD-induced stupor,” when he built the billing system for the software company leading up to its public market debut.
The 45-year-old, six-foot-three tech CEO now leads a $2.9 billion company. Trading with the ticker ZEN on the NYSE, the software stock has seen its value grow nearly 3.3 times since the company’s IPO in May 2014.
“The best way to acquire new customers is to make your current customers excited and happy about your products,” Svane told Fortune in an interview. The CEO remains hyper-focused on delivering an exceptional customer service experience, indicating that however far artificial intelligence and machine learning take business, there will always be a need for the human aspect.