For many Americans, the world seemed like it was falling apart in March 2020.
But JMU alumnus David Meredith (’93) and the company he’s CEO of, Everbridge, were made for moments like this. Everbridge uses a dynamic emergency notification service to help companies protect employees, customers, assets and supply chains during critical events like a worldwide pandemic.
“Everbridge is a mission-driven company, and our mission is to keep people safe and organizations running,” Meredith said. “Our mission has never been more important than it is right now.”
The Burlington, Massachusetts-based company was founded in 2002 after the 9/11 crisis as a solution to all-too-common problems in today’s uncertain world. While no company hopes to encounter active shooters, gas leaks or natural disasters, leaders’ futures and reputations may hinge on how critical events like those are handled.
“If you go back from 2000 ’till now, you see a 30 [times] increase in man-made attacks, a 20 [times] increase in cyber attacks, two [times] increase in natural disasters,” Meredith said to CNBC’s Jim Cramer on Feb. 19. “So, increasingly, it’s not a question of if a company will be impacted by some sort of a critical event, but when and how severe and how prepared can they be.”
Meredith told Cramer in mid-February, weeks before the first known COVID-19 case in America, that the Everbridge network had transmitted millions of communications related to the coronavirus as companies manage their supply chain and keep employees safe, and that count is up to nearly 335 million as of mid-May. He noted that this global health crisis has shown many businesses that they don’t have a crisis plan in place.
Everbridge’s network first obtains data from news sources, social media, weather centers and other authorities. Then, experts are available 24/7 to sort through it with the help of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Everbridge customers know where critical assets and people are in relation to a threat in real-time with 22,000 data elements factored in and mapped for rapid responses. Even in less dire situations, businesses can save a fortune by anticipating disruptions and limiting operation downtime from exogenous events like COVID-19.
Amid the worldwide pandemic, nearly all Everbridge employees are working remotely, and it’s supporting 3,700 first-responder organizations and 1,500 health care entities around the world. It’s working to accelerate the clinical response in this health crisis, and it launched a “return to work” solution on May 5. Businesses around the globe have different regulations and guidelines in response to COVID-19, and Everbridge’s platform tracks that to keep people safe and operations running. Through contact tracing, the system monitors where employees are if they’re sick or have been exposed to someone who is, and its mobile app offers simple wellness checks.
“Unlike many other critical events, COVID-19 is global, it's happening everywhere at the same time and it's persistent,” Meredith told shareholders and analysts on the company’s Q1 conference call. “It's not like a hurricane or a power outage that lasts one weekend or one week. It's continuous, and it's a pervasive disrupter across all of the markets that we serve, especially our heroic 3,700 first responder customers.”
Everbridge has over 5,200 customers, including Lowe’s, pharmaceutical giant Bristol-Myers Squibb, e-commerce up-and-comer Shopify and the U.S. Army. It works with governments in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Peru, Sweden, Iceland and the Netherlands with the ability to reach more than 500 million people in over 200 countries. In recent months, American cities like New York, San Francisco, Houston and New Orleans use Everbridge’s platform, and Vermont lawmakers are using the system for remote voting that’s secure and safe amid social distancing.
Everbridge is well-positioned for further growth, reflected in its Q1 earnings report announced on May 5, as more companies replace multiple vendors with its streamlined platform instead of trying to manage crises alone. The company impressed Wall Street, easily beating estimates on the top- and bottom-lines with revenue up 38% year-over-year. Everbridge isn’t yet profitable, but it raised its full-year guidance in a time when many companies face an uncertain future.
Meredith said there were “lots of steps along the way” from JMU to his current position of CEO and board director of Everbridge, which he’s held since July 2019.
He used JMU’s campus recruiting program through the Career and Academic Planning Center to land a position at Capital One before its successful IPO in 1994. Meredith went on to hold senior executive positions at several global companies, including CGI (formerly American Management Systems), VeriSign, CenturyLink and Rackspace, earning his Master of Science in Management of Information of Technology from the University of Virginia along the way.
“He’s exciting to watch,” Mary Kaye Slonaker, a JMU graduate (’94) who knew Meredith in college and is now the development officer in JMU’s Giving Offices, said. “I marvel at his leadership in the mission of Everbridge. I just love seeing it take off.”
While at JMU, Meredith said he learned his “best lessons about building a strong culture” by serving as a hall director for Spotswood Hall in the Bluestone area. He’s taken those lessons and focused on building a “mission-driven culture” and community at Everbridge, which was named a 2020 Great Place to Work by the Global Authority on Workplace Culture.
“[Meredith] has a strong focus on evangelizing the power of the Everbridge mission,” Jeff Young, vice president of corporate communications at Everbridge, said. “He has a great vision for growing the business into different markets, and above all, he has brought a new energy to Everbridge’s culture.”
Amid a turbulent time for businesses across the globe, many leaders look to each other for support and inspiration. Meredith said he has been impressed in particular by JMU President Jonathan Alger.
“One of my leadership role models is President Alger at JMU because of his principled leadership, vision for the future and remarkable calm, even in times of crisis,” Meredith said. “I met President Alger and his impressive wife, Mary Ann, years before they came to JMU, and I’m glad they’re at the helm of the university now.”
Everbridge launched a virtual executive summit Wednesday and Thursday called “Coronavirus: The Road to Recovery”, headlined by former National Security Advisor and retired four-star U.S. general Colin L. Powell and former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD. These keynote speakers, along with leaders from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Cleveland Clinic, discussed the road to recovery from COVID-19.
It’s one more way Everbridge is looking out for businesses and people.
“If you’re excited about what you’re doing, it doesn’t feel like a job,” Meredith said. “Hopefully, JMU students can find their passion and apply that to make the world a better place.”
James Faris is a senior media arts and design major. Contact James at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer: David Meredith knows the author’s parents personally, though the author had never met, spoken to or had any contact with Mr. Meredith prior to working on this story. I have no positions in any stocks mentioned and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.