Given the recent merry-go-round of chief executive officers (CEOs) in the industry, no one would blame top technology executives for losing track of who's running what these days.
But it's important to keep track of who's who, who's where, and whose scandal belongs to whom. The CRM CEO Shuffle just got a bit more confusing, with the recent announcement that Charles Phillips, former co-president of Oracle, has been tapped as the new CEO of Infor.
The news comes roughly six weeks after Phillips stepped down from his position at Oracle, where he was replaced by Mark Hurd, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard (HP). Shortly after Hurd's departure, HP filled the vacancy with former SAP CEO Leo Apotheker — who had previously been cut loose by SAP and replaced by not one but two CEOs, Bill McDermott and Jim Hagermann-Snabe.
Each of the recent top-tier moves has come shrouded in controversy.
Hurd resigned from HP amid allegations of financial impropriety regarding business expenses involving a woman who accused him of sexual harassment while she was employed by HP as a marketing consultant.
Meanwhile, Apotheker's lucrative contract with HP — rumored to be worth approximately $51.8 million, according to the Wall Street Journal — caused an outcry among industry analysts, particularly because many argued he did a poor job running SAP.
And Phillips made national headlines of his own in January, when mysterious billboards — featuring him and a woman later identified as his former mistress — began appearing in high-profile locations in New York's Times Square, Phillips' (and, incidentally, Infor's) hometown of Atlanta, and San Francisco (where Oracle is headquartered). The billboards contained the Web address of a site displaying multiple pictures of the couple. Soon after the public revelation that the billboards had been taken out by the former mistress, the billboards were brought down — as was Phillips's reputation.
While the Hurd and Apotheker controversies have a direct impact on each executive's professional reputation, Phillips's experience is of a more personal (and arguably more embarrassing) nature — and may not affect his professional future, claims China Martens, senior analyst at The 451 Group, a technology research firm.
"I don't think the scandal matters that much," Martens says. "If you can compare it to Hurd's [scandal] it isn't in the same ballpark at all. It won't be revisited again unless there's something more to come out of it."
No further developments have been reported regarding Phillips's extramarital affair, which is good news for Infor, a company Martens predicts will soon look to go public. If this is indeed Infor's intention — marking the end of a long road of growth and acquisition for the company — Martens views Phillips as an optimal fit.
"Infor is a company that wants to have more of a profile," Martens says. "What better thing to do than to hire someone that comes with a profile?"
Ray Wang, a partner at consultancy Altimeter Group, echoes Martens' approval of the Phillips hiring in a recent blogpost, in which he asserts that Infor is gaining a seasoned executive who:
- Oracle customers found effective;
- put action plans in place, and
- kept his word.
Wang also points to Phillips's background in investment banking, and suggests that his experience in that realm would play a key role in any attempt by Infor to go public.
Infor Chairman Jim Schaper — who had held the role of CEO before Phillips' appointment — released the following statement about Phillips on the Infor Blog: "Charles is a talented, visionary executive; a strong leader with a wealth of industry experience; and, most importantly, an executive with a proven record of delivering exceptional results wherever he has worked."
Infor and Oracle each declined to comment to CRM magazine about the announcement.
Martens predicts that the industry haven't seen the end of the CEO carousel. With the economy showing signs of improvement, she explains, companies will be looking to reinvigorate and refocus employees and shareholders.
"While I don't have my eye on anyone in particular," she says, "Now would be the time to make such a move."
News relevant to the customer relationship management industry is posted several times a day on destinationCRM.com, in addition to the news section Insight that appears every month in the pages of CRM magazine.
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