Vena Solutions reinstates founder as CEO

In June of this year, Vena Solutions’ founder and CEO Don Mal stepped down from his leadership position to make way for Shawn Cadeau to take the reins -- but just a few months later, Mal is stepping back into to the role, Cadeau is out, and the company has hired Neil Thomas as chief revenue officer, the role Cadeau previously filled. Thomas will be responsible for leading the company’s sales, marketing and other revenue-generating initiatives.

These big moves follow a successful third quarter 2018 for Vena, which reported healthy year-over-year growth. Mal told Accounting Today that returning to the company was always the plan, though he didn’t foresee taking over the CEO role again.

Dona Mal Vena Solutions HQ

“My plan was to take some time off and then come back Oct. 1 in an advisory capacity, so this is not a surprise,” Mal said. “The fact that I’m jumping back into the CEO seat was not originally the plan, but it is the right thing to do given the two big industry headlines recently regarding Workday and Anaplan.”

Mal is referring to Workday’s blockbuster buy of Adaptive Insights, another financial software provider, for $1.55 billion, and Anaplan’s planned IPO, which now aims to raise $263.5 million by offering 15.5 million shares, putting its market valuation at above $2 billion.

“We’ve identified the next person to help us take the business to Adaptive and Anaplan territory,” Mal said of new CRO Neil Thomas. “We are exactly on the same trajectory as Anaplan in terms of revenue and growth as they were when they were at this stage.”

Vena Solutions tends to position itself as an accountant-friendly financial planning and analysis software, because of its Excel-based user interface, which accountants are familiar with and trust. Thomas, who holds an MBA and a master’s in accounting, “loves the company,” Mal said, and believes in Mal’s vision for Vena’s trajectory. But perhaps most importantly, Thomas joins Vena from Adaptive Insights, where he led the company’s growth from a handful of customers to over 3,000 worldwide. He was also responsible for Adaptive Insights’ customer success and partner relationships, reportedly delivering 28 successive quarters of year-on-year growth.

“What Neil loves about Vena is that we have a platform that can be seen in the market as being much more than a budgeting and planning solution,” Mal said. “We do that really well, but because Vena is a platform solution and we leverage native Microsoft Excel, we’re able to offer our software for more use cases in and outside of finance.”

“Having spent more than 20 years in the CPM space, Vena is the one company with a product vision that goes beyond budgeting and consolidations, even the office of finance, to bring the benefits of performance management to all areas of an organization,” Thomas said in a statement. “Combined with its unique value proposition – embracing, not rejecting Excel spreadsheets – Vena is poised to become the largest independent vendor on the market. I look forward to what’s ahead for the company.”

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