SM: So you got your first CEO job!
MG: I met with the board to understand what they wanted. It was important for me to know that I was not coming to package a company up in order for them to sell it. I wanted to go build a company. I was very comfortable with what the board wanted to get done. They wanted to be the talent management leader, and they wanted someone to go embark on a mission and vision to make that happen.
SM: Thanks for sharing this detail. It helps me understand the DNA of Taleo. Whether this is going to be a “building” mode company, or a “flipping” mode company. Real quick, could you bring us up to speed as to what happened at Taleo before you came on board?
MG: Taleo was started in 1999. Its product was generally available in 2001. They had $48M in revenue when I took over, and last year we closed at $128M. We gave guidance between $154 and $157 for 2008. Once again it was a relatively immature company. There was not a lot of process; there was not a comprehensive sales strategy. It was like a typical startup. It was very creative, very passionate, but there were a lot of calories spent when you could be more efficient in how you go to market, more efficient in how you market the company, more efficient in how you build technology, and more effective in how you manage a client.
SM: Why didn’t Louis stay on with Taleo? MG: Louie had concluded he had no desire to be a public company CEO. He is a serial entrepreneur, and one of the most creative guys I have ever met. He is extremely good at the $0 -$50 Million stage. He is very self aware as a person, so he realized that the next phase of the company was to take it public, raise capital, and put a lot of process discipline into the company. He just knew that is not something that would turn his crank every day.