Carl Eschenbach, a longtime enterprise software executive who joined Sequoia Capital in 2016 and went on to lead a number of lucrative deals for the venture firm, will return to an executive role.
As the new Co-CEO of Workday, Eschenbach will co-lead the enterprise cloud application giant along with co-CEO, co-founder and president Aneel Bhusri, until 2024, when Eschenbach will assume the position of sole CEO.
Chano Fernandez, a former SAP executive who joined Workday in 2014 and has served as co-CEO since 2020, has “resigned” as co-CEO and relinquished his chair. on the company’s board, “effective immediately,” Workday said.
Before joining Sequoia, Eschenbach spent his career with many software companies. Most notably, before diving into VC, he was the president and COO of VMware, the virtualization and cloud computing technology company, where he worked for over 14 years. Before joining VMware, he served as vice president at Inktomi, a dot-com company that was acquired by Yahoo in 2002.
Eschenbach will remain a venture partner at Sequoia Capital, but he is not expected to lead the new deals. While at Sequoia, he struck a number of deals that eventually turned huge profits for the company, including convincing Zoom founder and CEO Eric Yuan to accept a valuable Series D funding. for $100 million entirely from Sequoia in 2017.
The joint venture owned 11.4% of Zoom at the time of its 2019 IPO; Zoom’s stock skyrocketed afterward as COVID-19 gained traction the following year, shutting down much of the world, largely turning to Zoom’s video communication platform.
Thanks in large part to Eschenbach, along with Sequoia partner Pat Grady, Sequoia also owns an 8.4% stake in Snowflake ahead of its 2020 IPO (which is the largest software IPO ever). now). And through Eschenbach’s efforts, Sequoia entered Series C and subsequent rounds of robotic process automation company UiPath, whose board Eschenbach joined in 2018. school.)
Eschenbach also joined Workday’s board in 2018. It’s not a Sequoia portfolio company, but Sequoia partners are often asked to sit off the board and in some cases Rarely, the company has given the green light to these moves. (Longtime partner Jim Goetz – who convinced Eschenbach to join Sequoia – sits on Intel’s board, is another example.)
The co-CEO role can be controversial. Oracle appears to have successfully paired such a pair with top executives Safra Catz and Mark Hurd, until his death last year. Meanwhile, SAP tried setting up a co-CEO and gave it up pretty quick.
Salesforce’s tests with co-CEOs were also unsuccessful. Earlier this month, nearly a year after becoming co-CEO of the CRM giant, Bret Taylor stepped down in a startling announcement that seemed to come out of the blue.
Taylor isn’t the first Salesforce co-CEO to quit for one reason or another. In 2018, Salesforce founder Marc Benioff appointed Keith Block as Co-CEO. Block stayed in this position slightly longer than Taylor, resigning in 2020.
Possibly, Eschenbach and Bhusri will understand each other better than most because they have similar histories. Before co-founding Workday in 2005, Bhusri himself was a venture capitalist with Greylock Partners, investing on behalf of the company for over 23 years.