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Digital Reasoning’s New CEO Talks Leading the Tech Darling into its Next Era

Digital Reasoning’s new CEO knows a thing or two about taking growing companies to the next level.

“It’s easy for early-stage companies to get caught up in how wonderful their technology is and sometimes they forget about all the basic blocking and tackling you have to do to build the business,” said Brett Jackson, who took over for founder Tim Estes on April 20. “That’s what I’m focused on.”

Jackson has taken over the position of CEO from founders six times before, and many of his past positions have overseen significant steps that could be in the future for the 17-year old Franklin-based machine-learning company. Digital Reasoning’s technology helps clients in the financial services, health care and intelligence industries process and analyze large amounts of unstructured data

“I’ve learned how software companies are supposed to work,” he said. “I’ve been through several scaling exercises so I’ve got a lot of experience helping companies go from where Digital Reasoning is today to something much, much larger.”

In recent years, Jackson has led multiple software companies through acquisitions and led at least one, Axent Technologies, through an initial public offering before it was acquired in late 2000.

In the past, Estes has said he’d like to see Digital Reasoning “go public.” As one of Nashville’s most watched technology companies, the growth Jackson has a track record of providing to other companies could help augment the city’s burgeoning tech industry.

Jackson said that taking over from Estes isn’t about taking anything from the founder and former CEO. He said he’s focused on building a relationship with Estes, who now serves as the company’s president and will focus on growing Digital Reasoning’s technology.

“He’s terribly bright,” Jackson said. “He’s got a great vision. He’s a great evangelist, super enthusiastic, he’s an optimist and I’ve enjoyed working with him so far. We’re very complementary, which makes things easy. He’s very good at his things. I’m very good at my things.”

Before any major changes can happen, Jackson said he wants to focus on learning as much as he can from Digital Reasoning’s more than 170 employees as well as customers in defense and security, financial services and health care.

“While I might have an idea, its too early for me to say, ‘Here’s the direction I think we ought to be heading,’” he said.

Instead, Jackson is focused on steering the company toward his goal of making Digital Reasoning a leader in artificial intelligence and machine learning.

“This company is blessed with an amazing level of talent that I haven’t seen before in a company this size,” Jackson said. “So if I can help the team knock down some of the challenges they have that are common challenges, we can unleash the potential of our team, get them focused on the outside world, on acquiring customers and beating competition and being innovative, they have massive potential.”

[NOTE: This article was published by the Nashville Business Journal]