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Ralph Clark, CEO of ShotSpotter
Episode 114th January 2021 • Startups for Good • Miles Lasater
00:00:00 00:55:27

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Ralph Clark is a technology company CEO who is equally committed to shareholder value and making a meaningful societal impact. Leading ShotSpotter since 2010, he has been dedicated to helping law enforcement agencies provide equal protection for at-risk, underserved neighborhoods, reducing gun violence and restoring police as trusted guardians of the community. Clark led the transformation of ShotSpotter to a SaaS based business model ultimately taking the company public in 2017.

With more than 30 years of corporate, financial and organizational leadership, Clark was previously CEO of GuardianEdge Technologies Inc. where he drove its acquisition by Symantec. Earlier in his career he worked for IBM, Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch. Clark received the 2019 EY Entrepreneur Of The Year® Award for Northern California. He is a former board member and chair of Pacific Community Ventures, former board member and chair of the Oakland Boys and Girls Club, former trustee and Vice-Chair of the Oakland Museum of California, is a member of Harvard Business School’s California Advisory Board and is a trustee of the American Conservatory Theater. He holds a B.S. in economics from the University of the Pacific and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School

Ralph joins me today to discuss ShotSpotter and the mission to reduce and prevent gun violence through the use of acoustic gunshot detection technology. He discusses the alignment and balance of law enforcement as the consumer, the company’s interest and the investors. He shares with us the differences in using violence interruption interventions and law enforcement interventions. Ralph shares with us the metrics behind the success of ShotSpotter. He shares his story of growing up in Oakland and working for GuardianEdge which brought him to ShotSpotter. 

"So you had this layer cake, different series of preferred with different rights, different privileges, different investors, all with very different outcomes, depending upon, you know, what that outcome was. So you can imagine that was anything but aligned around there, the beautiful thing about going public is that, all that preferential layered cake gets smashed into one thing called common, we're all aligned together, management, every single investor, both the previous private investors, as well as the new public market investors, we're all common now. So we all have this, we all have this shared, same shared lens through which to look at, you know, success, or failure.” - Ralph Clark

Today on Startups for Good we cover:

  • The benefits of a mission-driven company for the employees
  • The friction in the relationship between communities and law enforcement
  • Utilizing the technology to enforce poaching and blast fishing 
  • The importance of reducing blast fishing on the whole ecosystem
  • How to maintain power and communication to the acoustic gun detection units
  • What net promoter score is and how valuable it is to a company
  • The moment when he adjusted the business model against cultural resistance
  • The decision to go public and some advice during the IPO process
  • The concept of Long Term Greedy

Connect with Ralph on LinkedIn or Twitter or email him at

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