Why Revolution Analytics, Basho, Opscode and Zenoss Have Former Accenture Executives as CEOs

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Last week, Revolution Analytics hired Dave Rich as its CEO.  Dave has something in common with CEOs from Basho, Opscode and Zenoss. All come from Accenture where they worked as senior executives:

  • Basho hired former Accenture CTO Don Rippert in In June of last year.
  • Opscode hired Mitch Hill, formerly of Accenture, and most recently served as  CEO of Avanade, a technology services joint venture between Accenture and Microsoft.
  • Zenoss Founder and CEO Bill Karpovitch is a pioneer in the realm of cloud computing. Earlier in his career, he spent five years as an Accenture executive where he led architecture and development of large-scale OSS/BSS applications for global telecommunications providers.

Dave Rich said in his time at Accenture he often encountered CEOs of startups who were either technically brilliant or super enthusiastic sales people. The technically brilliant people can demonstrate how their technology is superior but that is just an aspect of what is required to sell into the enterprise. The CEO with a sales pedigree may be overly optimistic, which leads to its own set of issues.

In his role, Rich said he acts as foil. There has to be the right balance between entrepreneurialism and managing the business.  Venture capitalists really need that expertise as it’s all about managing the burn. He said that’s something  you learn at Accenture.

Accenture executives play the role of advocate for both innovation and what’s right for the customer. They know that balance and can  bring that understanding into the startup.

“In many ways we have been running startups inside businesses,” Rich said.

Don Rippert retired as Accenture’s CTO on June 3o after 30 years working at the company. On July 1, he started work as CEO at Basho.

“I was working with a lot of small, innovative companies that wanted to be incdued in Accenture solutions that Accenture would sell,” Rippert said in an interview this week. “I would identify them. I got to know quite a few. I got to know the startups and the people. I  learned one of the biggest hurdles for startups is thinking through how to sell to large enterprises.”

It’s the message that matters, Rippert said. Accenture executives are trained to help customers think through solutions.

“You are accustomed to saying ‘this will save you this much – this will generate this additonal revenue,’ ” Rippert said.

It is an adjustment for the startup when an Acccenture executive joins its ranks. Basho employees expressed some reservations about hiring an Accenture executive. But they accepted him. They essentially wanted to see if he had the chops to be their CEO. He said he was able to do that by proving to them he understood the technology.

It also helps that Rippert is steadfast about keeping the company’s hacker culture intact.

“There was a bit of a concern that there would be people with suits and ties coming in, that’s the last thing i need,” he said.

Basho has a particular focus on the DevOps culture and how it is emerging. DevOps looks at the ways developers and operations people work together to deploy and manage apps. It’s a cultural mix in some ways similar to the new services focus that Accenture executives bring to technology companies.

Opscode Founder Jesse Robbins and CEO Mitch Hill

Opscode’s story is in many ways what Rich and Rippert describe. The companies needed a CEO who could take the company to the next level. And the founder, in this case, Jesse Robbins, now acts as the chief community manager for the company, overseeing Opscode and Chef, the open-source community driven recipes that provide IT with ways to automate and provide integration framework built specifically for automating the cloud.  Robbins now gets to do what he does best with a Mitch Hill, a CEO who has a proven track record.

And Zenoss? CEO Bill Karpovich received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year 2011 Maryland Award in the Emerging company category. He has been featured on the cover of InformationWeek and has led the companty from startup to category leader in the IT management software market.

Not bad, huh?

About Alex Williams

Alex Williams is an editor for SiliconAngle and lives a charmed life in Portland, Or.