revolving door Image credit Pixabay/HansApttus has announced more senior leadership appointments as the year closes. As part of their global expansion it has made three appointments in India. It also announced two C Suite changes with Rajnish (Raj) Verma appointed COO and Ben Allen promoted to CMO (Chief Marketing Officer). Verma joined the company in October as Chief Strategy Officer. He previously had a seven month stint as COO at Hortonworks and spent 13 years at TIBCO.

These are not the first major changes in recent months with Terry Schmid appointed CFO in November, Don Robinson joining as Chief People Officer in February and Margo Smith as Chief Legal Officer in August. There were also two new board appointments for non execs.

Growth in India

The appointments in India make sense. Apttus is looking to continue its international expansion and is growing its operations in India to support that. Formerly MD of NextGen Healthcare Ashish M. Shah joins as General Manager and Nikesh Jain is promoted to Head of Engineering in India. Based in India Jesal Mehta is promoted to General Manager, Contract Lifecycle Management in a global role.

Kirk Krappe, Founder and CEO Apttus Source Apttus)
Kirk Krappe, Founder and CEO Apttus

It does need to either promote or bring in the staff with suitable experience to drive the company forward. Kirk Krappe, Apttus CEO commented: “The combined extensive management experience and in-depth knowledge of existing and emerging software, architectures and platforms that Ashish, Nikesh and Jesal possess provide a tremendous strategic benefit to Apttus. With proven track records as consensus builders and leaders of diverse, high-performance teams, I am confident that they are the key regional leaders necessary for scaling the next phase of our business operations in India and supporting our growth globally.”

Change is good?

While the appointments in India make sense, warning bells should be sounding about the constant leadership flux in the C Suite. Apttus needs stability in 2018 if it is to grow.

Verma was only brought on board a few months ago as Chief Strategy Officer. His  change in title may indicate he has identified some key issues to address. The press release states: “Verma is responsible for ensuring operational excellence across Apttus. He will be responsible for helping prioritize Apttus investments aimed at driving growth and operational efficiency.”

Acquisitions ahead?

Apttus’ statement raises other questions. The first is whether investments mean acquisitions. Could Apttus look to make acquisitions in 2018? It is possible that in his 100 day role as Chief Strategy Officer Verma has identified some targets.

The second is that Apttus needs to improve its internal operations. By appointing Verma as COO it seems there is work to do there. It will be interesting to discover what changes are made over the coming year.

The appointment of Allen to CMO also raises an eyebrow: he will report to Verma rather than Kamal Ahluwalia, Chief Revenue Officer. Ahluwalia joined as CMO in 2013. It is unusual for the CMO to report to a COO rather than the CEO or even CRO. Allen, however, was previously VP Strategy at Apttus. Most likely he has formed a close working relationship with Verma in the last three months.

Krappe commented: “Raj is an experienced enterprise sales veteran with a pedigree of helping companies capitalize on large market opportunities and grow at scale. Additionally, I have been continually impressed with Ben’s positive effect on Apttus’ business, particularly his ability to successfully implement go-to-market strategies and deliver solutions that address the business challenges our customers face.”

What does this mean

There have been many changes at Apttus during 2017, possibly too many. Krappe will need to ensure the new team gels to drive its business forward. Apttus has a strong corporate culture with rigorous onboarding to supports people.

Nevertheless, the changes raise the questions of what changes will these new appointees themselves make, how will Apttus evolve in 2018? and whether there have been too many changes in total. Probably all is under control. But, if there are more, outsiders will look for deeper problems.

If Apttus is indeed looking to make acquisitions, what type of firm will it buy?. One possibility is AI. Apttus launched “the world’s first and only Quote-to-Cash virtual assistant”, called Max, in 2016. Watch if it increases the cadence and substance of enhancements relating to Max and/or through acquisitions.


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