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Building an Ambitious SaaS Company: Taleo CEO Michael Gregoire (Part 4)

Posted on Friday, Feb 15th 2008

SM: Tell me about your move from EDS to PeopleSoft?

MG: In 1999 I was recruited by a headhunter at Spencer Stewart. Craig Conway had become the CEO of PeopleSoft, he had been there for 6 months, and he had a vision of re-tooling the ERP software space and re-tooling the company. One of the things Craig had concluded was that prepackaged software would be very important, but the company was going to have to take more ownership as to how that software gets implemented and the overall customer success.

When I talked to Craig he explained the problem he was trying to solve. PeopleSoft could write software, but they did not have an army of consultants who could reach out on a global basis to ensure the software was installed successfully and ensure high customer satisfaction which would result in even more software sales. At that time it was primarily the Accenture’s and the IBM’s of the world that would do these implementations.

There was a really bad rap in the industry, especially coming at the tail end of Y2K, of these consulting companies really taking advantage of customers by putting mass customization into software that had to be supported. Companies had the worst of all worlds. They had the inflexibility of an ERP software system with all of the expense of customization. Honestly, many of them might have been better off doing a complete customization job.

SM: So you moved West with PeopleSoft?

MG: Yes. The only thing I was worried about was that I had another CEO opportunity in San Francisco with a dot com startup. The choice between taking this CEO job and going to work for PeopleSoft, at the end of the day, came down to the fact that I could never understand how the company I would have been CEO of would ever had made money.

I knew I needed to do something different. The consulting world in itself was going to go in a downturn, and there was a lot of activity on the west coast, although most of these startups were going to fail. I did not want my first CEO gig to be associated with a failure. I felt I could do the PeopleSoft thing. I came to terms with PeopleSoft in February of that year and I think I started on Valentine’s day.

This segment is part 4 in the series : Building an Ambitious SaaS Company: Taleo CEO Michael Gregoire
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