December 3, 2018 CEO Champion Spotlight

Spotlight on Athena CEO Champions: Zack Rosen of Pantheon

Interview By The Athena Alliance

Zack Rosen is visionary. As CEO of Pantheon, Zack envisions a world where developers can create amazing websites, fast, with effortless iteration and powerful collaboration tools. Pantheon makes it happen through a cloud-based website development platform that automates much of the backend nitty-gritty work that developers endure to build beautiful websites. Zack is a pioneer within the development industry, so it seems fitting that he’s a CEO Champion in ours.

He created the first large-scale Drupal website for the Howard Dean campaign in 2003, co-founded the world’s first Drupal development shop, CivicSpace, and then went on to co-founded another, Chapter Three. If that’s not enough, he also co-founded Mission Bicycle. As for Pantheon, what started out as a pressing personal need for a solution has evolved into a company of more than 100 team members.

Since partnering with Athena, Pantheon has secured Amy Vetter as an advisor. She’s a veteran expert in areas such as customer relationships and experience, growth and scalability, and entrepreneurship, who was most recently chief relationship officer for Xerox Americas. Read on to see what Zack has to say about his goals for growing his network, and the experience he’s had with Athena so far.

What sparked your interest in Athena?

Board searches are very difficult and incredibly important. Athena Alliance offers a valuable service for a challenge that is very top of mind for me and our company.

What’s the greatest competitive advantage gained from having a diverse board?

Research has shown over and over again that diverse teams outperform. This should not be a surprise. Teams that can look at hard problems from all angles will find creative solutions that homogenous teams would never see. It’s that simple.

How does a diverse board impact a company’s future success?

The performance of a board as a team will have an outsized impact on a company’s path to success.

Boards serve an incredibly important function for companies. They help an executive team plan and operate at a higher strategic level, in quarters and years versus weeks and months. They also weigh in on the most critical decisions a company will make. Before you add someone to your board, you must ask, “Is this the person I most want around the table when we must make the most vital decisions?”

You work with Amy Vetter as an advisor, who you met through Athena. How is that going so far?

Amy has the kind of experience we literally couldn’t find anywhere else. We spent years looking. We are so excited to learn from her and have her advise myself and our executives on our go-to-market programs and strategy.

What do you feel is the great barrier to scaling a startup?

The biggest constraint on scaling startups lies in access to leadership talent. Athena Alliance has built an incredibly valuable network of female executives you cannot find anywhere else. We hope to recruit an incredibly talented diverse board member via Athena Alliance’s network.

What’s your take on the Athena network and the connections you’ve made through this relationship so far?

The panel events are very insightful, filled with a lot of touching stories. I got a lot of practical advice from attending. The Athena community is incredible. I’ve made invaluable connections: two advisors and one potential customer, which I did not expect! I go to four to six industry events a year. The bar is just really high. Athena Alliance attracts a very impressive cross-section of executives across many domains: CEOs, board members, functional leaders. Everyone I met was a rare talent.