Salesforce.com laid off three executives last week, including Steve Cakebread, for non-performance reasons. Cakebread had been on board for about six years most of that time as CFO though the position he left was company president.
The article I saw made it seem conclusive that this was a direct result of the recession. Maybe to was, I don’t know. But I do know that the economy at large lost about 600,000 jobs in January according to the feds and that’s a much bigger concern.
Three jobs, even executive jobs, at a billion-dollar company is hardly newsworthy except that it gives tongues the opening they might need to wag. I don’t have a lot to say about most of this except that Steve Cakebread is a ninja. He’s the kind of guy you bring into a company when you have a nice steep growth curve and a plan for a liquidity event. He’s the kind of person you want as your CFO to give the Wall Street types the confidence to invest in your company. I can envision Steve Cakebread saying to himself, my work is done here.
In the small community of business executives who, like Cakebread, join a company to help get it into orbit, once that job is done it’s time to look for your next project. Also, believe it or not, it’s that time of the business cycle when you disengage from your old job and start looking around for the new, new thing.
You might think that’s a little silly for me to say but follow this logic. You need six to twelve months to decompress, work off your non-compete and re-familiarize yourself with the industry. That last point is important because while you’ve had blinders on trying to make your last company a big success, the world has continued to change.
So the way I see it, this is the perfect time for starting the process all over again. It’s a little like Groundhog Day, really. Phil comes out and either sees his shadow or doesn’t then we have six more weeks of winter. Spring eventually shows up and by then you’ve fully considered your garden and what to plant.
In a related matter none of this should affect a company’s decision to go with a SaaS solution, just the opposite. SaaS is still the low cost solution to computing needs because it lets you purchase fully operational seats of service without any of the lag time or costs of setting up a conventional system. It might even be a great early barometer of the economic recovery, just like Phil. Companies will start buying more SaaS seats before we see an appreciable uptick in the economy. I wonder if the feds have anything like this as an economic indicator. They ought to.