No change in course planned as Don Mal returns as Vena Solutions CEO

Vena also announces the previously vacant post of CRO has been filled by Neil Thomas, who spent 11 years at Vena competitor Adaptive Insights, most notably as SVP of Worldwide Sales.

Don Mal, who is once again Vena Solutions’ CEO

In May, Toronto-based CPM [corporate performance management] software vendor Vena Solutions announced that founder and CEO Don Mal would move into a corporate ambassador role, with COO and former CRO Shawn Cadeau taking over as CEO. Things have changed since. Mal has now resumed the role of CEO. Cadeau has left Vena. And Neil Thomas, who had spent 11 years at Vena competitor Adaptive, most notably as SVP of Worldwide Sales, has become the Chief Revenue Officer, a position which had remained vacant. Rishi Grover and George Papayiannis, who co-founded Vena with Mal, continue in their roles as Chief Solutions Architect and Chief Technology Officer respectively.

Mal said that his return had to do with major changes in the sector in which Vena plays.

“I was always going to come back in October as an advisor,” Mal told ChannelBuzz. “Several major things happened in our industry, however, during the time that I was gone. Adaptive was sold to Workday. Anaplan went public last week at a $2 billion market cap. We are on a similar trajectory in the same space. Anaplan is slightly more operational than we are, but they are still a planning company. So the board asked me to take over the leadership again.”

Mal stated flatly that Cadeau leaving the company was not over an issue of strategy.

“The company’s employees and customers have seen this as a minor event, and customers have a lot of confidence in having me back as a permanent leader,” Mal said.

Mal took the position that the big news here is actually Neil Thomas coming on board as CRO.

“With both myself and Neil coming in, in addition to additional senior VP staffing on the product team, we have a deeper bench, he said. “Neil took Adaptive from 300 to 3000 customers. We already have strong momentum. We just announced that we had more than 60 per cent software revenue growth in Q3 year-over-year, with close to 100 per cent growth in the midmarket. We also had over 60 per cent growth in new annual recurring revenue year-over year. What we really want to communicate is that the momentum of the business allowed me to come back in with Neil.”

Mal said that the new leadership isn’t going to lead to a change in strategy, although it is likely to lead to an increase in Vena’s channel business.

“Our plans for 2019 are more of the same,” he stated. “We are doing well right now, and will build on our Q3 momentum. Neil had full revenue responsibility at Adaptive Insights including channel – both reseller channels and their strategic vendor relationships, particularly with Netsuite. We will see an enhancement of our partner ecosystem, which is currently between 40 and 50 partners, to be a much broader part of the business over the next four to five years. As we improve our brand and our global reach, we will likely expand our strategic relationships as well.”

Mal also announced that Vena will be hosting a user conference, VenaNation, next May in Nashville, with over 600 customers expected. That’s up significantly from their last (and first) user conference, VenaNOLA, which was n New Orleans in May 2017. At that event, Vena had a little shy of 350 customers in attendance.