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Workday appoints VMware veteran as co-CEO

It doesn't work for SAP and Salesforce but does work for Workday. For now

Are two heads better than one or do too many cooks spoil the broth? For Workday, the answer is yes.

The SaaSy finance and payroll software company has appointed Carl Eschenbach as co-CEO, replacing Chano Fernandez, who has also stepped down as a member of the Workday Board of Directors.

The 2005-founded company said in a statement Eschenbach would retain the board director post he's held since 2018 while CEO and co-founder Aneel Bhusri would continue in the position until January 2024, after which Eschenbach would become sole CEO while Aneel would assume a full-time role as executive chair and chair the board of directors.

In a statement, Bhusri said: "I'm confident that Carl, with his leadership skills and his proven experience in helping technology companies scale, as well as his commitment to culture and values, will help lead Workday through its next phase of growth. Chano has been an integral part of Workday since he joined almost nine years ago and has helped us to achieve great success and growth. We thank him for his many contributions."

Eschenbach has a long history of tech, sales and management roles in the industry. VMware, EMC and Alcatel-Lucent, where he lasted less than a year, are among his former employers.

Workday seems to be supporting the co-CEO model, at least until 2024. Others aren't so sure.

Finance and HR software rival SAP ditched the idea in dramatic fashion in 2020 when American Jennifer Morgan departed and left German Christian Klein as sole CEO. The German software giant had tried the model earlier when Bill McDermott became the co-CEO of SAP in 2010 and then CEO in 2014.

Meanwhile, Salesforce, which kicked off the tech industry's obsession with SaaS in 1999, has also struggled to reach a conclusion over whether to have two CEOs. At the beginning of December, it again unwound its CEO job share arrangement, with co-CEO Bret Taylor announcing he would leave the company in January 2023. Co-founder Marc Benioff was set to become the sole CEO.

From 2018 to 2020, Keith Block had the role with Benioff. But that arrangement ended when Block departed without an explanation but stayed on as an advisor.

Whatever the pros and cons of a the dual CEO role, Workday's mind seems made up. For now. ®

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