Zenefits has found a new leader to run its human resources platform, bringing on board former Ooyala chief executive Jay Fulcher. He succeeds David Sacks and will also become the chairman. Sacks will remain on the board of directors.
Excited to pass torch today to new Zenefits CEO @jbfulcher, an accomplished leader. Ultimate validation of team's hard work over past year.
— David Sacks (@DavidSacks) February 6, 2017
“The appointment of Jay as the long-term CEO of Zenefits is the last step in a planned transition that began one year ago this week, when the Board asked me to step in and steward the company through a difficult situation,” Sacks wrote in an email to employees. “That’s when I asked all of you to join me on a mission to create the New Zenefits. You went above and beyond, exceeding all expectations. It has truly been an honor and privilege to serve as your CEO.”
With an extensive resume, it’s clear why Zenefits wanted to bring Fulcher on board. According to his LinkedIn profile, he was an executive at not only SAP, but also Red Pepper Software and PeopleSoft. Fulcher also was the CEO of Agile Software and the aforementioned Ooyala. His experience in the enterprise and in the HR management space (PeopleSoft) will likely be an asset to Zenefits as it moves onto the next phase of its growth.
Fulcher takes over a company that has reinvented itself after doing battle with regulators and addressing concerns from critics in a series of events that led to the ousting of its founder, Sacks’ predecessor Parker Conrad, as well as laying off 17 percent of its workforce. Admittedly, being CEO was not a job that Sacks wanted, but he was qualified for it after running Yammer for years. And under his watch, Zenefits dug itself out of the proverbial hole it was in — perhaps spurred by his “get behind our turnaround or please get out” approach, settling with all state regulators until he declared it had a “clean bill of health.”
Zenefits is no longer just an HR platform for small businesses, it has shifted towards what Sacks claims is an “all-in-one” marketplace. Over the past year it has launched a complete redesign, Slack bots, rebuilt its payroll tools, and added a slew of integration partners. But can it continue to push forward and stem its financial losses? According to documents obtained by BuzzFeed in 2016, the company lost $200 million last year, with an additional $100 million lost in the first half of the current fiscal year. Zenefits has said that while it has raised more than $583 million in venture funding, it still has quite a bit in the bank.
Bringing on Fulcher achieves a vision Sacks had, saying that recruiting a “really great CEO” provides the “ultimate validation [for Zenefits].”
“The ultimate validation for all of our hard work over the past year is the company attracting an amazingly accomplished CEO to lead it to the next stage of growth and profitability. I feel very fortunate to be passing the reins to a seasoned leader and operator with deep experience in both HR and SaaS. Jay’s energy, experience and leadership line up perfectly with what the company needs now,” Sacks said in a statement.
Here’s an email that Fulcher sent to Zenefit employees today:
Today marks my first day as Zenefits’ CEO.
Change can be difficult, and the past year has been rough. But, despite that, I am really excited about this opportunity. I joined Zenefits because I believe this company can be an innovative and disruptive force in the industry — and is poised to make a huge impact.
What a rare opportunity.
First, for all of you that have worked tirelessly to build this company to where it is today, I want to say how impressed I am by what you’ve accomplished so far … and to say “thank you”. You have created an incredible company that is helping to revolutionize an industry.
The best days for Zenefits are ahead of us. Our mission is powerful and inspirational. Enabling small and medium sized businesses — the economic engine of the entire US economy — to grow and succeed is a noble purpose. It should propel us every day and drive us to do our best work. What we do matters. We’re fortunate to work for a company that is capable of making a real difference. Trust me, opportunities like this do not come around very often. That’s why I was excited to jump in with both feet and I am thrilled to be here.
So, a bit about me and what fuels my enthusiasm for the journey ahead …
Having been a CEO twice before, I know this job is intense and requires my full attention … and I’m all in. I love leading a team and building something that is worthy of our time and reputation. I love to win and it drives my passion for building great companies. I’m lucky to have a great family that helps support my passion. When I am not working, I am an avid outdoorsman (horses, fly fishing, skiing, hiking, outdoor adventures, travel, etc.). I play golf but can’t seem to get my handicap any lower, so having a new job will be a huge relief.
Next, building and sustaining a great company culture is important to me. In my experience, culture trumps strategy every time. I define culture simply as “how we do things here”. As I get to know Zenefits better we’ll quickly build a culture of trust, transparency, and execution. We will work together to add these core values to how things already work at Zenefits, and make these values come to life every day as they guide our decisions and how we operate.
I am committed to making Zenefits a great place to work. I am committed to operating with integrity — every day and in every situation. I am committed to putting our customers first. Every company I have been a part of has been known for outrageous (in a good way) customer service. We will be, too, and it will be fundamental to why we win. We have a phenomenal opportunity to be the industry leader in a category we created: All in One HR.
Finally, I attended the HR One conference in NYC last Tuesday and listened to our team lay out our vision and demo our new products. I was truly impressed. Having spent much of my career with market leading software companies like PeopleSoft, SAP and Agile, I can attest that our product and platform vision is really compelling. I’m excited by the customer response to our new products, pricing structure and business model thus far, as this is strong validation of the value we deliver.
While I am humbled by our challenges, I am excited by our opportunities. Together, I know we will fulfill the enormous potential for Zenefits.
Let’s do this.