Utah company Entrata thrives after founder’s anti-Semitic rant and ousting
In early January, veteran tech entrepreneur Adam Edmunds was just weeks into his first birthday as CEO of Lehi-based property management software innovator Entrata when his phone burst with messages.
This torrent of communications was spurred by a furious, anti-Semitic email from Entrata founder and longtime CEO Dave Bateman that had just gone public.
Bateman’s screed was sent to more than 50 recipients, including Utah tech executives, elected officials and other state leaders claiming “Jews” were behind COVID-19 vaccines and doing part of an “ongoing sadistic effort to euthanize the American people”.
“I write this email knowing that many of you will think I am crazy after reading it,” Bateman wrote in the Jan. 4 email. “I believe there is a sadistic effort going on to euthanize the American people. It’s obvious now. It’s undeniable, yet no one is doing anything. Everyone is dismissing their own judgment and dismissing their intuition.
“I believe the Jews are behind it all.”
At the time the email was sent, Bateman was out of the day-to-day operations of Entrata but still served as chairman of the company’s board and was also the company’s majority owner.
The email garnered widespread condemnation, national and international media coverage and sent shockwaves through the ranks of Entrata, a business-to-business software startup that had achieved huge success through innovation and growing. prided itself on a corporate culture based on the celebration of diversity.
And while the personal fallout for Bateman included his ousting from the board and, months later, a full financial divestiture of the company he helped start in 2003, Edmunds was left to lead Entrata and its employees, customers and investors through the toxic cloud left behind by the founder’s messy claims.
“It’s an experience you can’t prepare for,” Edmunds said in the first interview he’s done since the incident. “There is no chapter in the CEO Handbook to deal with such events.”
Edmunds responded publicly with a statement condemning Bateman’s hateful statements and highlighting Entrata’s commitment to inclusion, but knew the path forward would be difficult. With no playbook to navigate the overwhelming email response, Edmunds said he chose to ‘lead with my heart’ and believed the highest priority was acknowledging pain and anger. left in the wake of Bateman’s vitriol.
“Really, what I felt like my job was at the time was to hold space for all the emotions that people went through,” Edmunds said. “Our employees, our customers, the people who live in the communities we help run, the Jewish community, the wider community…I wanted all of these people to feel good about going through their feelings.”
Part of Edmunds’ response included reaching out to Rabbi Sam Spector of the Congregation Kol Ami Synagogue in Salt Lake City.
Last January, Spector told the Deseret News that an initial phone call led to him meeting a group of Entrata leaders, an experience he called the first in his time as a rabbi. Prior to that meeting, Spector said he had some skepticism about the request.
“I expected them to pay lip service after this thing that happened,” Spector said. “But, that wasn’t it.”
Spector said Entrata leaders were visibly moved to welcome him to their Lehi headquarters and shared their anguish over “someone from our community causing your community so much pain.”
“They asked how they could become allies of the Jewish community,” Spector said last January. “They said they were here to listen to what I had to say and wanted to learn how to be allies in the fight against anti-Semitism.”
Entrata also made an undisclosed donation to Kol Ami, hoping to help defray the cost of much-needed repairs and upgrades to the 50-year-old synagogue, including a new boiler, prayer books and supplies. other improvements.
Spector said Entrata executives asked that the donation be kept secret and noted that they were focused on associating with the Jewish community.
“That’s what impressed me the most,” Spector said. “We have already seen people wanting to donate to get out of hot water. But Entrata works proactively to be an ally and they set an incredible example of how to do that.
“The catalyst for this was someone doing the wrong thing, and Entrata takes the position of what they can do to learn and improve from that. I encourage every company to be equally proactive saying, “We don’t want a Dave Bateman in our community and how can we fight that early on.”
Just six months before Bateman’s email, Entrata was celebrating a $507 million funding round, the company’s first injection of institutional investment and the largest private funding round ever for a company in the world. Utah, according to Entrata.
The round was led by Silver Lake, Ryan Smith, founder of Qualtrics and owner of Utah Jazz, and Todd Pedersen, founder of Vivint Smart Home. HGGC, a private equity firm co-founded by BYU and NFL football legend Steve Young, also helped with the funding.
In an interview with Deseret News, Young said the resounding success of Entrata as well as Edmunds’ leadership abilities were major factors in attracting HGGC’s interest in investing in the company. He also had nothing but praise for how Edmunds handled the fallout from the January incident.
“I have to give Adam a lot of credit for creating an environment that was conducive to healing,” Young said. “It’s with the different communities in Utah, with the employees, with the customers…it’s pulling all over the place.
“Adam’s response was…a holistic repudiation of what was said. And a response and action for what the company stands for.
Silver Lake chief executive Kyle Paster said his company followed the success of Entrata for some time before leading the massive funding program in 2021.
Paster noted that Entrata is the go-to software platform for enterprise-wide multi-family housing operators and that it had, even before its first round of investment, been a company going through an arc of growth. impressive.
He also shared his support for how Edmunds and its management team handled the challenges raised by the founder’s email.
“I think Adam handled it really well,” Paster said. “One of the strengths of his team is his empathy and his ability to connect with people.”
In addition to its leadership position in Entrata’s fund last summer, Silver Lake also participated in the sale of Bateman’s shares in the company, which was completed in March. And Paster holds a seat on Entrata’s board of directors.
Edmunds noted that Entrata’s robust growth continues and the company currently processes some $25 billion in payments from tenants who reside in more than 20,000 apartment communities across the country that are managed using the company’s software platform. At the time of its 2021 investment fund announcement, Entrata said it was the fastest growing software company in real estate, with more than $200 million in recurring revenue. annually and more than 2,000 employees.
Entrata has also strengthened its leadership team over the past year and a half, including adding former Podium executives Nico Data, Jason Tyler and Chris Finken, as well as former Xant CEO Chris Harrington, now Chief income from Entrata.
In addition to its core property management product, Entrata provides solutions for student and military housing operators and has a new product in development aimed at supporting businesses working to address critical affordable housing shortages.
Edmunds said he believes Entrata will become one of the biggest companies ever launched in Utah and that dealing with the issues that arose earlier this year has made him a better and even more focused leader.
“If anything, I came out of that feeling even more strongly on my goal to lead with my heart,” Edmunds said. “At the end of the day, building a business is really about people, the customers you serve, the people who work here.
“The first half of my career was all about my own fame and glory. The second half is about building people up, making the world a little better, and making Utah a little better.