Scott Brown is to become the new CEO of FinancialForce. Tod Nielsen announced his retirement from January 2021 from FinancialForce and will help transition the company to the new leader. Scott joins the company from Teradata, where he was EVP and chief revenue officer for the last eighteen months. He also spent 22 years in senior sales roles at Cisco. It is his first role as CEO and his first within the Salesforce ecosystem.
Scott is familiar with FinancialForce. Both Teradata and Cisco are customers of its PSA solution. He also has experience of selling ERP software for System Software Associates, Inc. (SSA) subsequently acquired by Infor and EMS, an ERP startup acquired by IFS. Importantly, he has connections with Salesforce. At Cisco, he championed Salesforce as a power user, and Cisco was the first company to implement both Salesforce Lightning and Einstein. From that, he has built strong relationships within Salesforce.
Enterprise Times spoke to Scott and asked him why he joined FinancialForce. He replied: “Well, number of things. I spent a decade in the ERP industry before I went to work for Cisco and Teradata, and I loved ERP. Second I’ve been a customer of FinancialForce twice, at Cisco and Teradata. I had tremendous respect for the product and the people. The last thing was the cultural values of the system. This organisation has tremendous heart. Tod Nielsen has done a terrific job with the culture of the company. They treat their customers well; they treat their employees well. They’ve been really strong during COVID taking care of their customers.”
He then answered why he believes FinancialForce picked him as the next CEO. “I felt that I could bring some things that perhaps others wouldn’t. The ERP experience, I’ve led a 4000 person services organisation, so that’s positive in talking to customers about PSA. I’m a heavy Salesforce user, having been a chief revenue officer and in that world. I know Force.com well and have a lot of respect for that. I have the international experience I’ve lived in Asia.
“You always want to make sure that you’re bringing the right skill set and that you’re the right next CEO. Todd was a tremendous product guy and did a lot to get us to a good place on the product. I’m more of a go-to-market guy. Driving growth is the top priority, and this plays well to my experience.”
Scott made it clear he was not looking to leave Teradata and views the job well done so far, but unfinished. He was approached by a FinancialForce board member, persistently and he finally succumbed to the overture. Teradata enjoyed a tremendous second quarter and pre-announced a successful Q3 ahead of time. As Scott noted: “The business is performing well. And I leave it in a good place. But you’re right. It’s not done, and I had no intention of leaving after a year and a half, it was sooner than I expected to.”
In press release, Scott stated: “My priorities are growth and customer success, based on my experience serving thousands of organizations of all types. FinancialForce helps businesses quickly recognize revenue, minimize revenue leakage, and forecast scenarios in radically changing environments, positioning the company to transform how businesses manage resources. This value has important implications for the total addressable market. As a customer, I saw the power of the platform and I am excited to take FinancialForce forward on its growth journey.”
Scott intends to boost FinancialForce growth through product and go-to-market collaboration. One key relationship he called out is his friendship with Nick Mehta, CEO of Gainsight. FinancialForce formed a new partnership with Gainsight earlier this year. Scott has already spoken to him about “tightening that relationship”. Scott will also consider new relationships but will spend time to assess who and when.
What Scott will do is look to evolve the channel partners. He was at Cisco when it moved from a direct to a completely partner-led model. He commented: “Fundamentally, I see a lot of power in the partners. I’d like to put focus on them on continually expanding their role at FinancialForce. I’d like to see them do more demand creation, be more involved in activities that drive net new logos, and drive expansion.”
Scott will also look to expand the company into new regions, and he has his views on where it will go. While the Netherlands is imminent, his arrival may change the strategy for that expansion going forward. Expansion is expensive and ET asked Scott whether he would consider a new funding round. He answered: “I don’t think we’re capitally constrained today. We have a very small debt load, and we have good equity backing. If we wanted additional, we certainly could raise that, that wouldn’t be a problem.”
What are your objectives in the short and medium-term?
“The short term is for me to get up to speed. I’m going to be spending a lot of time with the employees, taking notes, listening. I want to be spending a lot of time with customers, I’m a big, customer-centric guy coming from a go-to-market and the sales background. Every day is a customer day. Listening to their feedback, what do they like? What do they not like? What things do we need to do differently? What do they want to see from us moving forward. Then I’m going to be actively involved with prospects, I obviously have a lot of experience in the space that they’re going into, and I’ve been a customer so I can speak with credibility. I’ll be deeply involved in that. The medium-term is about trying to drive up growth, to make sure that we’re continuing to accelerate that.”
When Enterprise Times asked him what the latest business book he read was. He replied that he is re-reading “Measure what Matters” by John Doerr. Scott felt it would be wise with fiscal year planning being undertaken currently.
End of the Nielsen era
Over the last four years Nielsen has led a transformation at FinancialForce, that has seen it accelerate beyond the $100 million revenue mark. He has achieved this by bringing a better structure to the organisation and with Dan Brown CTO (no relation to Scott Brown) providing a more focused product strategy and a better architecture for its ERP and PSA solutions.
Nielsen commented: “Having the opportunity to grow the company into the leader it is today has been the capstone of a rewarding 36-year career in technology. As our third CEO in 11 years, Scott is the right leader to take the company into its next phase of growth and customer success, and I look forward to working with Scott as he takes the helm.”
Scott paid tribute to the work that Nielsen has achieved saying: “FinancialForce wrote the book on better ERP and PSA for today’s cloud-centric, services-focused companies, which often juggle multiple revenue streams. Under Tod’s leadership, FinancialForce led the evolution of the modern business suite to connect the front and back office for a 360-degree integrated view of your customers. This drives visibility across functions and enhances business agility.”
Enterprise Times: What does this mean
The inference is that Nielsen feels that after four years, it is time to hand over the leadership baton. He has transformed FinancialForce during that period. It now has a powerful product that is more easily deployed, extensible and scalable. He has also built a solid leadership team ready for growth, a fact that Scott acknowledged, do not expect wholesale changes. In Scott, FinancialForce has found a leader that could push FinancialForce into the first billion-dollar ERP solution within the Salesforce ecosystem. The board appears to agree.
Kevin Costello, Chairman of the Board, FinancialForce commented: “Scott has the right experience running and scaling organizations, increasing customer success, and growing revenue, to lead FinancialForce on a decisive path forward. FinancialForce has phenomenal product offerings; outstanding go-to-market, customer success, and operations teams; and a world-class partner ecosystem. I have had the privilege of working with a strong and talented executive team and can attest that Scott is an excellent cultural fit with a focus on servant leadership and a bias for stability. I would like to thank Tod Nielsen for the exceptional leadership that has set the stage for accelerated growth.”
While Scott would not reveal the board member who attracted him away from Teradata, it may have been Jennifer Lagaly, a FinancialForce board member and also Senior Vice President of Sales at Salesforce. She commented: “I am thrilled to welcome Scott to FinancialForce. I’m most excited about Scott’s time as a FinancialForce customer, where he experienced the force multiplier effect of FinancialForce and Salesforce first hand. He brings significant credentials in working with customers to extend the value they receive.”
A new chapter in FinancialForce history is about to begin.