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Building an Ambitious SaaS Company: Taleo CEO Michael Gregoire (Part 3)

Posted on Thursday, Feb 14th 2008

SM: So how did you get from CTO to GM?

MG: One day at work I got a call from my wife. I was in downtown Toronto, serving as the Chief Technologist of EDS Canada, and I was 30 years old. I had been married to my wife for 5 years … she was my high school sweetheart, so we had known each other for over 10 years.
My wife said, “This can’t be our life, because it is way too boring. We are young, we should do something more aggressive.”

The funny thing is the week prior I just received a phone call about a job in New York, so I told her, “EDS is opening a new office in NYC and they want me to be the CTO for their financial vertical.” She said, “Let’s do it.” For me, there was just one problem, which is that I didn’t know anything about financial services although I knew a lot about UNIX.

The person I knew there was David Moxam, who is now the CEO of a company called Authentix. David talked me into going there. It turned out to be a dual package, because Holly ended up working for American Express at the World Trade Center and I worked in Mid Town. I enjoyed working in that section of EDS, and we grew revenue in that business unit from $20M to almost $650M in just 5 years.

SM: Financial services is a huge vertical

MG: It was a very big play for EDS. Over those five years I went in a very similar pattern from being the technical propeller head to being the guy that ran the whole business unit. When I left that business unit, I was the managing director for the global financial markets group. We had about 1500 people and close to $700M in revenue.

SM: What was the future outlook you were seeing?

MG: Perhaps the most important thing I noticed both in our business and in global financial markets as a whole was the amount of customized systems. We built customized trading floors, and several customized systems for financial services. But I started to sense was the whole idea of customized applications was going to be in decline. Companies where not going to be willing to keep building these large systems, especially since the cost of supporting and maintaining the ones they already had were going to continue to rise.

This segment is part 3 in the series : Building an Ambitious SaaS Company: Taleo CEO Michael Gregoire
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