Workday Gets A New Co-CEO

Published on 15 Dec 2022

Workday, Gets, New, Co-CEO

Carl Eschenbach, a seasoned leader in the enterprise software industry who joined Sequoia Capital in 2016 and led many successful acquisitions for the venture capital company, is returning to an operational position.

Eschenbach has been appointed co-CEO of Workday, where he will serve with Workday co-CEO, cofounder, and company chair Aneel Bhusri until 2024 when Eschenbach will assume sole CEO responsibilities.

Workday said that former SAP executive Chano Fernandez, who joined the firm in 2014 and has been co-CEO since 2020, has "stepped aside" from his position and resigned from the board of directors "effective immediately."

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Eschenbach’s Career Graph

Eschenbach worked for many different software firms during his career before joining Sequoia. Before transitioning into venture capital, he spent almost 14 years as president and chief operating officer of VMware, a cloud computing and virtualization technology business. Before joining VMware, he was a vice president at Inktomi, a dot-com business bought by Yahoo in 2002.

Even though Eschenbach will still be a venture partner at Sequoia Capital, he won't be in charge of any new business. He convinced Zoom's founder and CEO, Eric Yuan, to take $100 million in Series D capital from Sequoia in 2017, one of many agreements he negotiated that yielded massive profits for the business.

At the time of Zoom's IPO in 2019, the venture firm controlled 11.4 percent of the company. Zoom's stock price surged subsequently as COVID-19 gained momentum the next year, shutting down most of the globe.

As Snowflake prepared for its IPO in 2020, Sequoia held 8.4% of the company, partly due to contributions from Eschenbach and fellow Sequoia partner Pat Grady (it was the biggest software IPO ever). By 2018, Eschenbach had joined UiPath's board of directors, and thanks to his efforts, Sequoia had invested in the robotic process automation firm's Series C round and subsequent funding rounds. (UiPath had a successful IPO last year, but its stock has taken a beating along with that of many other technology firms)

Eschenbach’s Relation With Workday

In 2018, Eschenbach also became a member of Workday's board of directors. It is not part of Sequoia's portfolio companies, but the firm's partners are often requested to serve on its board of directors and, on occasion, are given permission to do so. (Jim Goetz, a longtime partner and the man responsible for convincing Eschenbach to join Sequoia, also serves on Intel's board of directors.)

Co-CEO positions are not without their detractors. Oracle seemed to have a winning duo with Safra Catz and Mark Hurd until Hurd passed away suddenly last year. Meanwhile, SAP experimented with a co-CEO structure before rapidly abandoning it.

Co-CEO trials at Salesforce have likewise failed thus far. Bret Taylor's abrupt resignation earlier this month seemed to come out of nowhere, arriving nearly exactly a year to the day after he became co-CEO of the CRM giant.

When it came to becoming a co-CEO of Salesforce, Taylor wasn't the first to throw up the towel. When Marc Benioff founded Salesforce in 2018, he tapped Keith Block to serve as co-CEO with Benioff. Block stayed in the role for two years after Taylor did, leaving in 2020.

Because of their shared experiences, Eschenbach and Bhusri may get along better than other people. Bhusri was a venture investor with Greylock Partners for almost 23 years until he cofounded Workday in 2005.


Featured image: Workday


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