Jive announced today, in widely reported news, that Elisa Steele as the company’s EVP of Strategy and CMO. These are new roles in the company, where until this announcement I could find no one with a marketing role in the senior ranks. I have been informed by a company spokesperson that Chris Morace, Jive’s Chief Strategy Officer, will be reporting to Steele, and that John Rizzo had the title of CMO until leaving the company in July.
Steele is coming from Microsoft, where she recently had assumed the head marketing role for Microsoft’s consumer applications and services, including Bing, Internet Explorer, and MSN, as part of the company’s mammoth restructuring. Steele had joined Microsoft as CMO of Skype, during the acquisition of the messaging company a few years back. Prior to Skype, Steele ran marketing at Yahoo under then-CEO Carol Bartz, and earlier at NetApp.
My sense is that the consumer products group is a strange collection of products that are either failing or not breaking through: not central to Microsoft’s future trajectory, at any rate. And perhaps Steele has inside info that the former Skype CEO, Tony Bates, who is theoretically in the running for Microsoft’s CEO role, is unlikely to get that step. So her chances of ascending to higher things at Microsoft may have declined.
A last comment: 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.