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CEO Frank Calderoni lays out vision for SaaS unicorn Anaplan

Scott Carey | April 3, 2017
The company is planning an initial public offering this year.


The new CEO of the cloud-based planning and forecasting Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company Anaplan is only nine weeks into the job but has already laid out how he plans to take the company from unicorn-status to a potential IPO this year.

The ex-Cisco and Red Hat CFO Frank Calderoni arrived at the company after a search which took nearly a year to complete following the abrupt exit of Frederic Laluyaux in April last year.

He has been tasked with continuing the strong growth the SaaS company has been seeing since being valued at over $1 billion in January 2016 following a $90 million (£72 million) funding round. Anaplan says that it added a record number of customers in 2016 250 to be exact and reported a 75 percent rise in subscriptions, accounting towards $120 million (£96.5 million) total revenue.

This week in San Francisco the new CEO got the chance to lay out his vision for the company on stage at Anaplan's annual Hub event.

Described as "a CEO in waiting" by his old Red Hat boss Jim Cramer, Calderoni started out by saying that it felt "natural for me to be here if I look at my background" and that he was excited by the opportunity at Anaplan because the software has the potential to solve the same challenges he had encountered throughout his career, namely: "Data and how we get data, and how we get that information connected and driving decisions."

In terms of putting the company's current strategy into a soundbite, Anaplan is fond of referring to what it does as "connected planning". So instead of various disconnected Excel spreadsheets dotted throughout an organisation, employees can collaborate on a single data model in real time.

The new CEO has fully bought into the message, saying: "Imagine a technology which allows everybody to have access to the best information to make decisions quickly, easily and boldly, this is the world I want to live in and why I came to Anaplan."


Three-pronged approach

During his keynote, Calderoni laid out the three tenets of his strategy for the company, and they will sound familiar to anyone well-versed in the SaaS lexicon here in Silicon Valley: customer first, innovative technology and community.

Calderoni told Computerworld UK that although many SaaS companies say they are customer first, many are not. The way he intends to make sure that Anaplan is different is by making it part of the company culture.

"Being customer first has a huge cultural element to it," he explained. "If people look at their roles as just a job description, and are too narrow, and don't understand the bigger purpose of why they are at Anaplan, that is a cultural thing, and one that every company can do more of."


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