New CEO (and a bright future) at Cornerstone OnDemand

Cornerstone OnDemand announced Q1 earnings yesterday, a bit of a miss. The miss can largely be explained by March Covid-19 sales headwinds, but that wasn’t really the headline. The big news was CSOD founder and CEO Adam Miller moving to a co-chair role on the board and announcing that former Saba CEO Phil Saunders would take over as CEO on June 15. That’s both the real headline and the real silver lining for CSOD.

When Miller started courting Saba for an acquisition, its chances of success weren’t good, to put it mildly. But Miller’s persistence won the day, not only bringing in a profit machine with Saba, but bringing in Saunders, who is widely regarded as one of the best operational CEOs in Work Tech, to run the new combined entity.

With the leadership change, Miller, who started CSOD in 1999, certainly deserves a salute as one of the last OG talent management founders. The category really defined the cloud business in the early 2000s because of its rapid growth and potential. Cornerstone started later than Saba, Taleo, Kenexa, SuccessFactors and others. When SAP, Oracle, and IBM made big bets on the category in 2012, it looked like Cornerstone was left out. But no matter how much people dismissed Cornerstone or thought they were dead in the water, Adam Miller never quit. The guy hustles. He played the long game and built a great brand and a great company. As founder and CEO, Miller deserves far more credit than he ever got.

Don’t let the earnings report fool you. The future is bright for Cornerstone.