The founder and CEO of fast-growing Ruby Receptionists is retiring from the company she has led for 16 years.
Jill Nelson told staffers Wednesday that she’ll stay involved with the company as an adviser and member of the board of directors.
“If there’s anything that makes this transition easier, it is my absolute certainty that I leave with an exceptional, aligned team of investors and leaders to carry the business forward,” Nelson said in a statement to the Business Journal.
The board of directors and the company’s investors will lead a search for a new CEO. Nelson will stay on until her replacement is found.
“The search will focus on finding someone who can uniquely take Ruby to the next level while maintaining our steadfast focus on small businesses,” Nelson said. “We are excited to continue to grow Ruby by leveraging our personalized services and technology platform to meet the ever-growing needs of the small business customer and our commitment to them has never been stronger.”
Nelson founded the company in 2003. She has built it to more than 600 employees across three offices in the Portland region and one office in Kansas City, Mo. The company offers virtual reception services for thousands of small businesses nationwide.
Earlier this year it announced its first acquisition: Ruby bought Kansas City-based ProfessionalChats to extend its product line beyond reception services and into online chats.
Over the years, Ruby has transformed from a pure services company to a tech platform handling more telecommunication needs. In 2015, Nelson sold a majority stake in the company to private equity firm Updata Partners for $38.8 million. At the time of the private equity deal, the company had about 200 employees.
Nelson is a visible leader in the Portland tech scene and one of few women founders to scale a business and land significant funding. In 2017 she was named the Technology Executive of the Year by the Technology Association of Oregon. She was the first woman to receive the honor.
Ruby has been a fast-growing company for years. Last year, it ranked No. 56 on the Business Journal’s list of the 100 fastest-growing private companies. It logged 2017 revenue of $37.6 million and a two-year growth rate of 77 percent. The company has been on the list for the last 11 years.