Equinix on Ironclad Clickwrap and the Power of Product-Led Growth

Equinox Data Center

The legal ops team was expecting a long implementation to get all the docs into the system and go through months of work. But it wasn’t that way with Ironclad. It just enabled the people who write the words to do the work, which was so empowering versus having to engage a third party team and worry about a long implementation.

Jason Powers, Senior Director of Product Management, Equinix

Equinix is one of those companies you may not have heard of but would dearly miss if they weren’t around. A digital infrastructure company that operates the world’s largest platform of physical data centers, Equinix plays a critical role in internet infrastructure. The company employs over 12,000 people  and operates 240+ data centers. In January of 2020, Equinix acquired cloud services startup, Packet, and brought its differing business models–and new challenges–into its fold.

Integrating Growth Models

A Fortune 500 global business operating in over 70 global metros, Equinix had to navigate the various restrictions and requirements governing their operations worldwide — think user agreement, terms of service, liability, billing enforcement, and data protection, to name a few– and so used a traditional sales-led growth motion. In contrast, Packet, a leading provider of a new breed of high-performance cloud services model called Bare Metal as a Service, followed a self-service model, catering primarily to developers at mid-market companies. Packet’s product-led growth strategy, offering free trials with minimal sign-up friction, had worked well for the startup; however, Equinix’s growth model required integrating a new level of legal compliance that Packet hadn’t needed to previously address.

A Self-Service Edge in a Globally Regulated Environment

Product-led growth hinges on the product itself as the primary means of acquiring and expanding a user base. Companies like Slack and Zoom successfully use the strategy by letting end users try their products for free, eventually driving their employers to upgrade to paid versions. “Put customer adoption at the front door,” Equinix Vice President of Product-Led Growth Eduardo Cocozza said. “Remove barriers so your prospective customers can try and buy your product faster.”

Under its product-led growth strategy, Packet offered demos or free trials, allowing customers to qualify themselves whenever they wanted instead of being shepherded by a sales team.

 Instead of saying, ‘Dear Company, please create the account by talking to the sales rep,’ we said, ‘Hey, Jane, you should try and use it. And if you like it, then you can adopt and scale.' 

This frictionless experience–coupled with exceptional product experiences–drove Packet’s paid upgrades and simultaneously kept customer acquisition costs low. 

Before the Equinix acquisition, Packet lacked an approval system for selling to new customers. If a free trial user wished to upgrade to a paid plan, they simply clicked a button and made an electronic payment. Equinix needed a more robust process to ensure customers were entering into a legally enforceable contract. This was all the more important as many first-time users were “shadow IT” customers — individuals signing up on their own, but using the product on behalf of their employers, who are often enterprise companies. 

They decided to offer new users free usage credits instead of a free trial, allowing Equinix to enforce a commercial agreement with billing terms while maintaining regulatory compliance—two key legal elements that a free trial couldn’t provide. 

Given that they already had thousands of sign-ups and couldn’t afford to qualify every prospect, both parties also agreed that a simple sign-up and click-through process where users could accept legally binding terms would be crucial for user adoption. 

We wanted to widen the front door. In a sales driven process, often, what you do is you disqualify people who aren’t ready to buy or don’t have clear budget. We wanted to get as many of the right users into the product experience and then help them weed themselves out, which was super different from [Equinix’s] traditional go to market model.

Enter Ironclad Clickwrap

Equinix was looking for a contract lifecycle management (CLM) solution that could streamline their legal processes plus meet their new frictionless sign-up requirements and came across Ironclad Clickwrap.

Ironclad Clickwrap supports clickwrap or click-through agreements, which are non-negotiable agreements “signed” by the act of checking a box or clicking a button, eliminating legal negotiation slowdowns with an enforceable and legally sound contract that new customers could agree to during sign-up. Finalized contracts are integrated into the online sign-up flow, minimizing friction through a clickwrap agreement’s one-button acceptance feature.

Enterprise clients would need to retain the option to negotiate terms with Equinix, but Clickwrap could facilitate the creation of non-negotiable ‘starter’ and ‘business’ product tiers. Legal agreements could be attached to the respective products, and term acceptance could be incorporated into the sign-up process.

After settling on Ironclad as the partner, implementation only took one two-week sprint to complete. The process involved collaboration between various teams, including product development, legal, and sales, to ensure that the new process aligned with the organization’s goals and maintained legal compliance.

The legal ops team was expecting a long implementation to get all the docs into the system and go through months of work. But it wasn’t that way with Ironclad. It just enabled the people who write the words to do the work, which was so empowering versus having to engage a third party team and worry about a long implementation.

Streamlined Sign-Up and Sustained Growth

Clickwrap streamlined Equinix’s sign-up process, bolstering its product-led growth with thousands of new sign-ups, now with legally enforceable agreements. The system benefits both the company and users: Equinix remains compliant with legal regulations, having secured payment and other terms, while customers can be confident they’re not entering into an unfavorable agreement. 

You can dramatically lower the cost of customer acquisition by allowing more people in the door and letting them come and tell you when they're interested.

Standardizing the sales process for most customers allowed Equinix’s sales team to focus on enterprise clients, who can still negotiate based on deal size. However, Equinix now negotiates less frequently overall, as most users prefer to accept standard terms and begin using the product immediately, according to Cocozza.

Driving Efficiency for Sales and Legal Teams

The adoption of Ironclad Clickwrap has led to significant efficiency gains for both Equinix’s sales and legal teams. By establishing non-negotiable product tiers, sales teams can now concentrate on high-value enterprise clients and tailor their offerings to address unique requirements.

Things are going really well. Now, for Equinix, product-led growth is becoming a key pillar of our proven go-to-market model. We are seeing more and more traction through self-service motion than ever.

Equinix’s legal team has also experienced a reduction in red-lining and negotiation efforts. The standardized contracts and click-through agreements facilitated by Clickwrap allow the legal team to focus on more complex legal matters and strategic initiatives.

Now, the entire Equinix team has their sights set on expanding upon these successes. They’re currently rolling out unified identity and billing payment platforms for their products, are working on implementing one-click digital acceptance for all of them, and don’t plan on slowing down any time soon. 

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