Avalara Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer
Scott McFarlane co-founded Avalara in 2004. Avalara started as a provider of digital sales tax compliance solutions in the U.S. and has grown globally to become a market leader in compliance automation software. Avalara’s mission is to be part of every transaction in the world by automating the compliance journey for businesses of all sizes.
In 2022 alone, Avalara delivered 39.6 billion AvaTax API calls, processed and filed 5.2 million tax returns, and managed 31 million documents on behalf of customers. Under Scott’s leadership, Avalara serves more than 30,000 customers worldwide, features more than 1,200 signed partner integrations, has made over 30 acquisitions to extend its product portfolio, and is on track to exceed $1 billion in revenue as a profitable business in 2023.
Since day one, Scott has been an unwavering vocal champion of helping businesses digitize their core processes around calculating taxes, managing documents, filing returns, and much more. He believes the transformation to digital solutions is inevitable as governments increase the complexity of compliance in an increasingly online world.
Scott brings a one-of-a-kind passion and unrelenting drive to his role as CEO. Over the course of his three-decade career he has combined innovation with rigorous operational discipline. His ventures leverage new technology to disrupt the status quo in businesses ranging from personal fitness to cybersecurity to compliance automation. He started his first business while still in college, partnering with his roommate, Augie Nieto, to launch Lifecycle, a groundbreaking computerized exercise bike.
At Avalara, Scott championed the color orange as part of the company’s brand identity and culture. Avalara’s orange spirit stands out at industry events by bringing energy and excitement to the finance and accounting sector, which traditionally identified with less vibrant colors. Scott inspires positivity wherever he goes and has worn orange attire every working day since co-founding the company.
Scott is fanatical about doing what is best for customers and partners and that commitment pervades the culture of Avalara. The company lives by a creed he calls Cult of the Customer, which emphasizes delivering on the promise of being the faster, easier, more accurate, affordable, and reliable way for businesses to manage their compliance needs. At every Avalara office, in common areas and conference rooms, orange-colored statues of the Customer in the Room are present to reinforce that Avalara customers have a voice and a seat at the table. Scott was instrumental in setting up success traits at Avalara to foster a significant cultural competitive advantage that ensures the company hires and retains top talent.
In recognition of his people management and corporate leadership skills, Scott has been regularly named a Power 100 leader by the Puget Sound Business Journal and one of the Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting by Accounting Today. He received the GeekWire CEO of the Year award in 2015. Under Scott’s leadership, Avalara is frequently recognized as a best place to work, was named one of the Most Loved Companies by Newsweek in 2021, and regularly receives Top Rated awards from TrustRadius for peer-to-peer customer recognition. Avalara has been a top partner for many ERP platforms and online marketplaces and was named Partner of the Year by both NetSuite and SAP in 2022.
On June 15, 2018, Scott successfully took Avalara public. Six days later the United States Supreme Court ruled in the Wayfair decision that states can enforce sales tax collection for remote sales by businesses based outside their geographic boundaries. This dramatically accelerated the transition to digital compliance and created tailwinds that helped Avalara’s business achieve new heights, making Avalara one of the top stocks of 2019 according to Forbes. In late 2022, after four years on the NYSE, Avalara shareholders sold the company at a valuation of $8.4 billion to Vista Equity Partners, a leading global investment firm.
Today, as a privately held company, Avalara is one of the top 1,000 largest U.S. companies by market capitalization and employs more than 4,800 people globally, with offices across the United States, the United Kingdom, Brazil, and India. Avalara remains steadfast on its vision to be the global cloud compliance platform.