Business Management

Code42 CEO seeks answer to business backup woes

It’s the enterprise software version of the gift that keeps on giving. When Joe Payne was CEO of Eloqua he sold the cloud social marketing company for about $810m cash in 2013 to Oracle. It taught him a, quite literally, valuable lesson.

“What I learned is that if you make investors happy they’re keen for you to have CEO roles,” he says, speaking to me recently by phone from his new perch at Code42, a Minneapolis-headquartered company he joined just four weeks previously.

After leaving Oracle in 2013 Payne has held directorships but this is his first time back at the helm. Code42 is named in tribute to the droll science-fiction British author Douglas Adams who has the Deep Thought computer propose the number 42 to be the answer to “life, the universe and everything” in his radio comedy and fiction series The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The company’s plans aren’t quite so all-encompassing but instead centre on the CrashPlan backup software that helped it grow in triple digits last year.

Customers include, Lockheed Martin and the apparel retailer Target.

CrashPlan’s strength is that one admin can backup files from anywhere across large estates of computers without users needing to get involved.

“We get into these accounts because they need something for the end user but also the admin,” Payne says.

He views CrashPlan as a straight-shooting solution to a common problem.

“Endpoint protection is just a fancy name for backup,” he says. “But right now the bad guys are targeting the enterprise. They’re not looking for a lot of people, they’re targeting a few.”

As more companies adopt a mobile/BYOD policy another issue arises.

“The Mac has found its way into the enterprise,” Payne says. “Fifteen years ago there were no Macs in the enterprise and they handed you a computer: here’s your Dell, here’s your HP and the CEO has something else at home and says ‘screw it’.”

That puts a lot of pressure on IT so a fast and efficient approach to backup across remote devices makes sense.

And then there’s the rise of the sync/share/collaboration crowd from Box and Dropbox to Google, Microsoft and a hundred others, leading to a “leaky bucket” for data, Payne argues. Code42’s answer there is via “cloud connectors” that allow IT teams visibility into all end-user data—the data that resides on their devices AND in the clouds they use.

Enterprise focus

He’s only just into the job but one focus is clear: CrashPlan and the enterprise. So far, like so many companies, Code42 has grown on the back of a freemium approach but now Payne says he wants to double-down on business sales.

What’s next? With revenues above $100m annually there is bound to be IPO chatter but Payne says that’s unlikely to happen in the next two years and adds that he wants to swerve “midcap hell” where a valuation in the hundreds of millions turns off funds from investing and leaves the company open to being hurt badly by market downturns.

Also, there’s a lot more to be mined organically and geographically, Payne stresses. “Today we do one thing really well but we only do it in one market really. We’re not a household name yet.”

Payne comes across in our conversation (backed up by off-the-record views of a few who know him better) as a plain-spoken, no-nonsense character.

“I made a ton of mistakes at Eloqua and the Code42 people get the benefit,” he says. “[My mantra is] ‘Get it done, do it right’.”

That approach to culture is more valuable than any number of ping-pong tables, he believes, but that doesn’t mean that he only wants a hard-nosed, hard-sell approach. Staff are scored on what they can share as well as targets they hit.

As a former CMO at MicroStrategy, he also believes others can take this path less trodden.

“I’d like to see more CMOs become CEOs. CMOs are tailor-made to be CEOs because they are great communicators and they understand marketing segmentation and customers. But some CMOs don’t approach it analytically enough and they have a tendency to hide their failures. CEOs don’t need to know how you got those results – it’s about results not activities.”

And with that Payne is back to work at his new project.


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Martin Veitch

Martin Veitch is Contributing Editor for IDG Connect

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