Alida appoints Efrem Ainsley CEO as software firm targets “long-term sustainability”

New Alida CEO Efrem Ainsley.
Ross Wainwright departs after four years with the company formerly called Vision Critical.

Alida has kicked off the new year with a key leadership change, promoting Efrem Ainsley to the CEO role, effective immediately.

The experienced software executive takes over from Ross Wainwright, who was brought on to help rejuvenate the Vancouver-founded, Toronto-based Alida in late 2019. According to Alida, Wainwright recently stepped down to explore other opportunities.

“While it’s been a tough market for tech as of late, the customer experience market continues to grow.”

-Efrem Ainsley

For his part, Ainsley previously served as CEO of Toronto-based ScribbleLive, which was acquired in 2019 by Rock Content. Before that, he was CFO and COO at Boston-based Exinda and Toronto’s PlateSpin, and vice president of finance at Kitchener-Waterloo’s OpenText. He first joined Alida as CFO in early 2020 before becoming its COO in the summer of 2022, roles he said gave him “a unique lens on the full spectrum of the business.”

“With my experience in business operations, leading go-to-market teams, and building new strategies and capabilities, I’m looking forward to partnering with our executive team to take Alida to new heights in 2024 and beyond,” Ainsley told BetaKit.

Ainsley noted that Wainwright “made a significant impact on Alida, leading the company through pivotal moments including a rebrand from Vision Critical to Alida and the transition into the customer experience market.”

“I am thankful to our incredible team and all their hard work throughout the years and will look forward to supporting a smooth transition as [Ainsley] takes the helm,” Wainwright said in a statement. “I will continue to be an evangelist, investor, shareholder and enduring supporter of Alida.”

According to Ainsley, Wainwright’s departure was voluntary. “Ross made the decision to step down as CEO and pursue other interests outside of the company,” he said. Wainwright was not available for comment.

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Founded in 2000, Alida sells software designed to help large companies gather feedback from their customers. The company caters to a list of approximately 500 enterprise clients, helping them measure and improve customer experience, including Warner Bros. Discovery, Adobe, Lululemon, LinkedIn, and Twitch. Backed by OMERS Ventures and Round13 Capital, Alida competes with giants like Qualtrics and Medallia, which have a strong foothold in the space.

In December 2019, Alida—then Vision Critical—brought on Wainwright following some slower-than-anticipated growth and a period of infighting between former CEO Angus Reid, the pollster and father of Alida founder Andrew Reid, and the firm’s directors and shareholders at the time.

During Wainwright’s tenure as CEO, the company moved its headquarters to Toronto, rebranded to Alida, remade its leadership team, implemented a research and development (R&D)-heavy agenda, and secured about $120 million CAD in debt and $20 million in equity Series D funding. According to the company, it saw consistent year-over-year growth despite challenging market conditions.

RELATED: Alida secures $12.3-million CAD debt facility to pursue product-driven expansion

“Four years ago we set Alida on course to be a disruptive player in the [customer experience] market and expand on its digital research platform, Community,” said Ainsley. “We have since grown our enterprise customer base across the globe, protected our leadership position as the best experience platform on the market, expanded into new regions, and now support customers in a number of industries and use cases, mainly the tech and media spaces.”

In a statement, Alida chair Phil Deck thanked Wainwright for his contributions and expressed that the board has “tremendous confidence in [Ainsley] as he takes the reins at this important time in Alida’s history.”

In 2023, Alida reduced its headcount by 20 percent, tightening its focus to achieve profitability.

Alida felt the impact of the broader tech market and economic downturn: Ainsley noted that the company reduced its headcount by approximately 20 percent last year. During this time, Ainsley said that Alida also “tightened its strategy to ensure a strong focus on our ideal customer profile in our priority verticals and use cases.” These changes helped Alida reach profitability in 2023. 

“Like many businesses in our industry, Alida focused on optimizing our business in 2023,” said Ainsley. “We took steps to right-size our company for long-term sustainability and continued growth which have set Alida on course for a successful 2024.”

Today, Alida has 352 employees and continues to hire in certain strategic areas. Ainsley declined to share Alida’s revenue, but claimed the company continues to grow, remains profitable, and has “a sustainability plan in place for the long term.” 

Over the coming year, Alida plans to keep focused on innovation and R&D as it looks to further expand into the user experience and product experience spaces.

“While it’s been a tough market for tech as of late, the customer experience market continues to grow with businesses heavily investing in understanding their customers to build better experiences,” said Ainsley.

Feature image courtesy Alida.

Josh Scott

Josh Scott

Josh Scott is a BetaKit reporter focused on telling in-depth Canadian tech stories and breaking news. His coverage is more complete than his moustache.

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