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Jive promotes Elisa Steele to CEO

Elisa Steele, the former Microsoft and Skype executive who joined Jive in 2013 (see Elisa Steele assumes new role as Jive’s EVP of Strategy and CMO), and who was moved to the position of president ( see Elisa Steele promoted to president of Jive, Tony Zingale retires), has now assumed the post of CEO, and joined the board of directors.

I confess that even from her first role as chief marketing officer at Jive, I predicted she was joining with the intention — on her part and the board’s — to eventually assume the CEO spot, and to replace Tony Zingale, the former CEO. I wrote then:

[…] an appointment like EVP Strategy and CMO looks like a short term test of a candidate for CEO. Tony Zingale, the current CEO of Jive, may be at work on a succession plan. The company went public in early 2012 and then subsequently raised over $12 million in post-IPO venture funds. Most critically, Jive has seen a sharp drop in its stock price since August, when analysts soured on the company after disappointing results since the IPO, and where the company blamed ‘sloppy execution’ in the final stages of major deals as the rationale for poor results. It may be the board wants new leadership for Jive.

And again, when she became president, reporting to an ‘office of the CEO’, I wrote:

My read is that Steele is in charge, and after a perfunctory ‘CEO search’ she’ll be given the CEO title, especially if she can turn the red ink to black.

Note that Jive’s fourth quarter results and 2014 revenue and earnings exceeded expectations — Q4 revenue of $47.7 million, up 21% year-over-year — as announced yesterday. The market didn’t like the results for the year as a whole, with a top line of around $200 million and a loss of 22 to 29 cents per share. The company’s stock fell 12%. But she seems to have stopped the bleeding at Jive. And the next day, she’s CEO.

I recently reviewed the company’s rapid rethinking of its product strategy, and especially the introduction of what the company is referring to as ‘workstyle’ tools (see Jive breaks out of the ‘social collaboration’ platform model with new ‘workstyle’ apps), with the introduction of Jive Daily in a week from today on iOS app store and Google Play. Later in the year we will see Jive Chime and Jive People roll out. This is the adoption of the architecture of deep-and-narrow work technology, and a move away from the pre-mobile ‘social collaboration’ model.

In related news, Ofer Ben-David was been named EVP of engineering at Jive in December, leaving Vmware where he led 1000 folks as VP of engineering. Formerly he held senior research and engineering roles at HP and Check Point.

Jive is making a serious turnaround, and its Steele and her team that are driving that change.