May 2, 2019

Snowflake swaps its CEO, good or bad sign?

Snowflake, a leader in Cloud Data Warehouse, has just announced a new CEO replacing Bob Muglia with Frank Slootman who becomes also chairman.

This is a real surprise, Bob Muglia was CEO for five years. and under his leadership, the company had a hyper-growth and he secured from investors with his team more than $900M for a valuation today around $5B.

Bob Muglia, now past CEO of Snowflake, during an IT Press Tour session in June 2018
As many of us know, Frank Slootman is associated with two adventures beyond old ones, first Data Domain acquired by EMC in 2009 for $2.4B and ServiceNow with a successful $210M IPO in 2012. He has named his personal investment firm Invisible Hand, what a name with multiple meanings. Now he has to stop sailing around the world...

Apart insiders, no visible sign could be identified confirming the sudden info. The press release is associated with a board of directors message and both of them are pretty short and of course thank Bob Muglia. The now previous CEO speaks about the next level in the board of directors note. It happens one month before the very first Snowflake end-user conference scheduled early June.

But this moves invites us to wonder what is the rationale behind this important leader change. Does it illustrate a strategic divergence with IPO for some people, acquisition for others or a private independent journey for the last? For ones who wish to start to discuss, don't approach the team with less than $10B.

The other key question is who need Snowflake as a vendor? Google has BigQuery, AWS Redshift, Microsoft is behind with Azure SQL Data Warehouse, Oracle and IBM suffer on this segment and Teradata has tough time moving from on-premise to cloud and a few others are anecdotic.

We hope this move won't weaken Snowflake as this event will mean change within the company, we'll see in the next quarters. We can expect Frank Slootman to invite again his band to join Snowflake as he did at ServiceNow following DD and Borland.
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