Progress Software, Amid Shift to Cloud, Names 4th CEO in Seven Years

Progress Software, one of the largest and oldest software firms in Massachusetts, has once again changed CEOs.

The Bedford, MA-based company (NASDAQ: PRGS) said Monday that CEO Phil Pead will retire, and Yogesh Gupta will become chief executive and join the company’s board. Pead will remain a board member.

Gupta previously was president and CEO of IT management software firm Kaseya, which he helped shift from products installed directly on customers’ servers to cloud-based software sold via a subscription. Before Kaseya, he was CEO at FatWire Software from 2007 until its July 2011 acquisition by Oracle. He helped FatWire double its revenue during that period, according to a press release.

Gupta will now apply those experiences at Progress, which has shifted products and strategy amid leadership turmoil and slumping sales in recent years. The company’s various software products and services are designed to simplify the development, deployment, and management of business applications.

Gupta is the fourth CEO at Progress in seven years. Richard Reidy, who joined Progress shortly after its founding in 1981, took the helm in March 2009 and helped shift the company from selling many different kinds of business software to focusing on helping large enterprises respond to market events in real time and manage their transactions efficiently. Annual revenues were roughly flat in his first two years as CEO—hovering around $500 million—and then dipped to $333.6 million in 2011. Reidy stepped down in August of that year.

Jay Bhatt succeeded Reidy. Bhatt aimed to shift Progress toward cloud-based software products and led a restructuring of the company that involved cutting jobs and selling off parts of the business. Bhatt left Progress after less than a year in charge and took the top job at Washington, DC-based edtech company Blackboard.

Pead, who joined the Progress board in 2011, was initially named interim CEO after Bhatt’s departure, then became permanent CEO in December 2012. Notable moves during Pead’s tenure include acquiring Telerik, a maker of application development tools, in late 2014 for $262.5 million, and revamping Progress’s organizational structure.

Annual sales were around $333 million during Pead’s first two years on the job, then increased to $377.5 million in 2015. The company projects sales of more than $410 million this year—still a far cry from where it was in the late 2000s.

Nevertheless, investors have been mostly happy with Progress’s performance under Pead. The company’s stock price grew from around $20 per share when he took the job to $30-plus last year. It was trading at $27.25 Tuesday morning, down nearly 2 percent from Monday’s closing price of $27.70.

“Over the last four years, we have refocused Progress and built a solid strategic foundation for growth,” Pead said in a press release. “Making the decision to retire is never easy, but given the alignment of Yogesh’s skills and experience with the strides we have made as we prepare to exit 2016, I decided that this would be the right time for me to accelerate my retirement so that we could recruit Yogesh to lead the next phase of the growth of our company.”

Gupta said he will focus on continuing the company’s shift toward cloud-based software, adding new product capabilities, and signing up more large enterprise customers.

“I’m incredibly excited to join the Progress team,” Gupta said in the release.

Jeff Engel is a senior editor at Xconomy. Email: jengel@xconomy.com Follow @JeffEngelXcon

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