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Incoming ServiceNow CEO Pledges to Build Software ‘Juggernaut’

Nico Grant

(Bloomberg) -- ServiceNow Inc. incoming Chief Executive Officer Bill McDermott promised to transform the growing software maker into a “global juggernaut” as he works to convince investors he’s the right man for the job.

“I wanted at this stage in my career a company that was in the early stage of its growth pattern and help them go to the next phase, to truly become one of the most admired software brands in the world,” McDermott, who stepped down earlier this month as CEO of German software giant SAP SE, said Wednesday in an interview. “The company is on a roll. I’m going to fortify that and continue that. The experience of what I know and I’ve seen will be incredibly helpful to ServiceNow. This company will be a global juggernaut.”

ServiceNow has long promised to organize tedious parts of office life, like setting up a help desk for IT operations and bringing on board new employees. The company has expanded into new markets, such as human resources, to maintain an annual sales growth rate of at least 35%, which it has achieved since going public in 2012. McDermott’s appointment Tuesday concerned some investors and analysts who highlighted that he hasn’t led “growth companies,” having worked at Xerox and spent about a decade as the first American CEO of Walldorf, Germany-based SAP.

McDermott dismissed the criticism, saying ServiceNow is glad to have a “street fighter” like him in its corner.

“If someone says Bill McDermott is best known for running large, global, powerhouse companies and they say ‘Is he the right person to lead ServiceNow because it’s not as large,’ I would say, I was completely unaware of ServiceNow’s intention to stay small,” he said. “I’m a leader. I lead organizations and establish visions. At the same time, I’m conforming to ServiceNow’s culture. I think that’s why I am the perfect person.”

McDermott added that continuity is important and he sees himself as similar to John Donahoe, ServiceNow’s current CEO, who is stepping down in January to run Nike Inc. McDermott also said he wants all of ServiceNow’s current executives to remain in place when he takes the top job.

McDermott said he has interviewed a pool of candidates in the search for ServiceNow’s next chief financial officer and was looking for a candidate who could fit the company’s culture and boost its operating margins and profit. “I think we have found such a person,” he said. The software maker may announce a pick before Thanksgiving in late November, he said.

The Santa Clara, California-based company projected subscription revenue that topped Wall Street estimates Wednesday. Sales from subscriptions will be $897 million to $902 million in the current period, ServiceNow said in a statement. Analysts on average expected subscription revenue of $897.7 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That would represent 35% growth compared with a year earlier.

The company also reported adjusted profit of 99 cents per share in the period that ended Sept. 30, above analyst estimates of 89 cents.

The stock climbed about 4% in extended trading after closing at $220.01 in New York Wednesday. The shares have gained 24% this year.

McDermott said that he would stick to ServiceNow’s goal of reaching $10 billion in annual revenue by an unspecified time.

“Very simply, I completely buy in, stand behind it, and I’m looking forward to achieving it,” McDermott said on a conference call with analysts.

While McDermott is known for his penchant for large acquisitions, such as SAP’s almost $8 billion purchase of Qualtrics International Inc., he said in an interview ServiceNow still had a lot of room for organic growth, which is his preference.

“There is no need at this time for large scale M&A maneuvers,” he said.

(Updates with comments from earnings call in the 11th paragraph.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Nico Grant in San Francisco at ngrant20@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at jward56@bloomberg.net, Andrew Pollack

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