Salim Elkhou
Founder & CEO
Onna

(5.0)
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  1. Salim Elkhou is the CEO of Onna, the world’s first Knowledge Integration Platform. He founded the company in 2015 when he realized that a technology-based solution was needed to address a major problem created by the proliferation of cloud-based workplace apps: knowledge fragmentation. With the rise of apps in the workplace – from Google Workspace and Microsoft 365, to Slack, Dropbox, Salesforce, and more. Salim saw that knowledge was becoming increasingly difficult to access in organizations, costing businesses huge amounts of time and money just to search for their own information. So, he started Onna with a mission to make the totality of people and organizations’ proprietary knowledge more accessible, useful, and private. Onna integrates knowledge from all workplace applications, allowing anyone to unify, protect, search, automate and build on top of their organization’s proprietary knowledge. It supports use cases spanning eDiscovery, information governance, knowledge management, enterprise search, archiving, investigations, monitoring for private and sensitive data sharing, and building bespoke internal workflow apps. Salim’s role as CEO is to ensure that the business stays focused on the long-term vision, and for transmitting that vision to shareholders, potential investors, and current and future employees. He is also focused on protecting the culture of the company as it grows, and on bringing new senior leaders into the business. Salim’s leadership style is calm, considered, and thoughtful. He encourages diversity of thought to promote intrapreneurialism rather than just top-down leadership, and is committed to inspiring employees about Onna’s long-term vision in addition to its current offerings. He also demonstrates strength in his ability to listen and let others lead, opening the floor to opinions and contributions from others before adding his own perspective. Over the last year, even as many companies stagnated during the pandemic, Onna gained significant momentum under Salim’s leadership. Key business highlights since the start of 2020 include: Securing a Series B funding of $27m in June 2020. The funding round was led by Atomico and Glynn Capital, and brought Onna’s total investment over $50m. – Signing 44 new customers, including five Fortune 500 companies, and adding to an already stellar customer roster that includes Slack, Dropbox, News Corp., Electronic Arts, Fitbit and Lyft. – Growing headcount by 135%, hitting and then exceeding Onna’s 100+ employee milestone. – Expanding the leadership team with four executive hires: Kelly Griswold as Chief Operating Officer, Michelle Wideman as Chief Customer Officer, Emoke Starr as VP of People, and Shannon Smith as Head of Engineering. – Implementing 33 major product enhancements, including adding new data source connectors like Zoom and expanding on critical features like preservation. In 2020 alone, Onna connected 14,805 unique data sources, processed 465.5 million files, and performed 275,445 searches, breaking the 1 billion indexed docs barrier in July — a major milestone for the platform’s endurance. Salim is also the steward of Onna’s culture and values, understanding that in order for these to be internalized and felt pervasively across the organization, they must start at the top. Key cultural initiatives that he and the leadership spearheaded during 2020 included: Creating a space where everyone belongs. As a global organization with employees from diverse backgrounds, equality and inclusivity are immutable core values. In an effort to bring these values to life, Salim and the leadership team invested into a formal Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion program, calling on employees to help select a formal consultant to develop an actionable and scalable plan. The leadership team also established “Women in Tech,” Onna’s first ERG (Employee Resource Group) led by its COO and CCO, both women on the executive team. Advocating for data privacy as a fundamental right. Too often, personal information is either managed by someone else or is completely hidden in the huge number of apps, pictures, texts, emails, and calendar entries we use on a daily basis. There needs to be a way to bring all of our knowledge together with the strongest privacy and security possible – this is precisely why Onna exists, and why it ingrains privacy and security into its product development, customer relationships, and partnerships. In 2020, Salim led the company in establishing Onna’s stance on data and AI ethics. This included a formalized public declaration of accountability and commitment to being responsible stewards of customer data. Nurturing a “work from anywhere” mindset. Even before the pandemic, Onna was a modern, dispersed company with staff based in several locations, including Barcelona, Toulouse, London, New York City, Raleigh, and San Francisco. But in 2020, as remote work fundamentally evolved how many businesses operate, Onna opened its first UK-based (remote) office and changed its hiring policy to include 100% remote or semi-remote opportunities. This created a more flexible and inclusive work environment, and with talent now hailing from 50 cities across the U.S. and Europe. This hybrid workforce also inspired new remote perks and wellness initiatives that created a positive impact on Onna’s culture, including new monthly stipends for groceries/takeout, wifi/utilities, and wellness/fitness. While many companies struggled to survive amid the volatile and uncertain business environment created by the pandemic, Onna thrived. Salim Elkhou’s exceptional leadership brought (and continues to bring) Onna to new heights, furthering the company’s growth, the strength of its product, and the manifestation of its culture and values.

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