A Note from Xuan

At Workrise, we strive for radical transparency. We recently shared with employees, partners, and stakeholders the story behind some notable changes taking place at the company. As Workrise evolves, we aim to continually pull back the curtain on the sometimes difficult process of growing a successful business. That means promoting open and honest discourse about the industry we operate in while letting our deep commitment to the energy sector — oil and gas, renewables, labor, and vendor management — speak for itself. Here’s a lightly edited version of the note Workrise’s Executive Chairman of the Board and outgoing CEO, Xuan Yong, sent to many of our closest partners and allies.

 


 

Hi All – 

The past year has been a period of major change and growth — for Workrise, and for me personally. 

Right now the company is coming off the most successful two quarters in its history (you’ll hear more about this soon). Workrise is thriving. But the process of change and growth isn’t always comfortable. We weathered some big challenges to get to where we are now.

Last year we began discussing the tough decision to sell off a portion of the business and focus on energy: oil and gas, and renewables. We saw that energy was where we could make the biggest impact, and that not all of the businesses in our diverse portfolio were compatible with that goal. We knew that to divest some businesses and make cuts would be extremely difficult but was necessary for the future success of the business.

Then in January, after a health scare, I learned that I have a rare heart condition. I don’t want anyone to worry — I’ve got great doctors who are optimistic about my prognosis. But it became clear I needed to take a step back in terms of my daily activities and focus on my health. 

So while I attended board meetings, took calls, and remained as involved as humanly possible in a company that has been my professional life’s work, my dear friend and co-founder, Mike Witte, stepped up as interim leader inside our business.

During my time away from the office, Mike kept me deeply briefed on our daily operations as we worked together to define the strategic direction so critical to our company in a world whose energy ecosystem was shifting in real time. I watched with pride, awe, and gratitude as Mike steered the ship through the difficult waters of divesting businesses and reducing staff. He and the team rightsized Workrise, putting us on phenomenal footing. You all can see the results — an extraordinary two quarters. Mike did the hard work in the trenches to get us here, and he did it with grace. 

His masterful stewardship during a period of extreme challenge led to another milestone moment of change and growth: With absolute confidence and faith in Mike’s leadership and abilities, I asked him to take the helm as Workrise’s next CEO.

Mike couldn’t do it alone. He has the support of the stellar team we’ve built around him, a group of hard-working and passionate folks who deserve shout-outs of their own. Josh Trott and Leslie Elder were hired during a crucial time for the business. They have done a remarkable job leading solar to profitability and oil and gas to its best quarter ever. Kimberly Blount has led a masterclass in rightsizing our business and ensuring we have ample liquidity to navigate this recession. Praveen Kalamegham has led our product and engineering teams off the monolith and transitioned the bulk of users onto our re-engineered platform, which will allow product development to accelerate going forward. Olivia Howe has graciously shepherded the people organization, led the business development team, and executed unwinding our non-core business — all in an uncertain environment. And last but not least, Matt Molitor has transitioned from chief of staff and rebuilt our strategy team as we aim to better serve our customers across the energy industry.

This team’s stewardship of our mission and vision — in combination with Mike’s deep understanding of this business, appreciation of our people, and exceptional execution — puts us in a position of extreme strength. We are seeing continued wallet share gains across our energy labor business, even with activity levels below 2019. And we’re seeing incredible momentum in vendor management, a testament to the teams operating that business every day, and the founding vision Mike and I had when we started the company, then known as RigUp, to be a services network for the energy industry. I couldn’t be more excited for the company’s second act as we extend beyond labor into the vendor management and supply chain space.

Energy — specifically the continued need for affordable oil and gas even as we move toward a future shift to renewables — is at the forefront of discussion, both globally and right here at home. The price to fill the tank at the local gas station, the prohibitive cost of heating the family home as temperatures drop, mainstream news reports detailing how the war in Ukraine has impacted energy costs and quality of life around the globe — these tangible pain points are raising awareness of a problem that Workrise is uniquely equipped to solve. We’ll share more about this in the coming months.

While Mike and the team are leading the charge, I’m not going anywhere. I will transition to a senior advisory role and continue to serve as Workrise’s Executive Chairman of the Board, which is the best way for me to continue to contribute to our future success while taking care of my health and recovery.

As Chairman, I’ll work to drive impact in three major areas:

  • Focusing on board leadership and governance
  • Evangelizing Workrise’s mission and shining the light on the company’s position at the forefront of the energy transition
  • Helping to guide and support the executive team as they carry out our long-term strategy, and as we rally to meet the next decade of our country’s energy needs 

I’m more confident than ever in the future of Workrise and, once the doctors give me the all-clear, in my own future as well. I’m excited to see what this second act holds for both of us.

Regards –

Xuan