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Lars Dalgaard and his Success Factors (Part 9)

Posted on Friday, Mar 14th 2008

SM: How do you view your competitive landscape right now? The HR, human capital landscape is moving online and becoming very big as we are penetrating more of the mid-market and small businesses. How do you view the rest of the players in your ecosystem and how do you position? LD: Let’s just look at the facts, I’ll talk to you like an engineer because that is how I have learned to speak now. We are in 13,000 opportunities at the moment, and the competitor we have met the most, we have only encountered 17 times. Our biggest competitor is not another software vendor, it is companies not doing anything.

SM: Who was the competitor you met 17 times? LD: That happened to be Kenexa. We have very little in common with them. They are a very big recruiting firm and they do a lot of surveys. They are a 20 year old company. Now they claim to be an on-demand company.

I can promise you, you do not change a 20 year old company in 3 years, which is why they missed a quarter two quarters ago, in a big way, and their stock got completely slammed. You cannot miss a quarter like that if you have a true on-demand company, so in my mind that clearly settled that they are not an on-demand company once and for all, although there are a lot of other people who have known it for a long time. They are in a bunch of deals where we are replacing them, like MetLife and American Airlines.

SM: There are a lot of opportunities and companies are just not doing anything in this space. LD: Yes! Over 80% of our deals are people who are sitting there with a spreadsheet, and we come in and talk to them and tell them to try something else because it is just so quick, so cheap, and it transforms companies.

SM: How do you view Taleo? LD: I think they had a lot of success with enterprise accounts with recruiting, then they bought RecruitForce which was a complete copy of SalesForce.com which was interesting, and now they have just started to launch something in our space because they see what we are doing.

Launching and doing are different things though. I will tell you what we have … we have 100 companies with 10,000 users. This is something that SalesForce.com would just dream about. I have 7 VPs from SalesForce.com, and they say they would just die to have 10,000 user organizations –they have two now.

The impact we have had over the last 7 years, the traction we have, the depth and the brand recognition, that means it will be really difficult for somebody to catch up to that.

The second part is that a lot of companies do not care about people, but we do at this company. I hired every single person up to 300 myself and most of them are still here.

SM: How many people do you have now? LD: We have 700. The first three years of this company’s life was cash flow positive. We saw what we had; a doubling of customers every year. We knew when SAP and Oracle saw this they were going to go crazy, so we knew we had to run. We embarked on a very aggressive strategy in 2004. I mean it was VERY aggressive. It was to completely dominate the market in terms of products, markets – small, medium, large – and geographies. That is something I am not confused about. I ran global products at Unilever. I was on the board of a global company. For me it is not hard to think about being Global.

When we launched the product we already had users internationally. Today we have it in 22 languages; it is being used in 156 countries. We don’t just have a sales rep or a channel partner, we have our own people on the payroll doing implementations.

This segment is part 9 in the series : Lars Dalgaard and his Success Factors
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