Even a new CEO may not be able to right the ship at Citrix Systems. Fresh face Kirill Tatarinov was hired this week to fill shoes left behind last summer by Mark Templeton, Citrix’s long-time CEO. In his new role, Tatarinov faces a raft of difficulties, not the least of which is what to do with a company in the midst of splitting itself up.
Most recently, Tatarinov led Microsoft’s Dynamics division, which continues to struggle to keep pace with larger-rival Salesforce.
Late last year, Citrix announced that it planned to spin out GoToMeeting and other GoTo properties as a separate, publicly-traded company. In the course of setting up this “GoTo Corp”, Citrix said it would jettison “about 1,000” employees or 10 percent of the company’s overall workforce. (GoTo Corp refers to all the GoTo and related properties: GoToAssist, GoToMeeting, GoToMyPC, GoToTraining, GoToWebinar, Grasshopper, and OpenVoice.)
Citrix described the GoTo Corp transaction as allowing the spin-off to “more effectively allocate resources in line with its own market opportunity, unique growth priorities and go-to-market capabilities, as well as adapt more quickly to SaaS market and customer dynamics.” Does that make any sense to you?
Why would Citrix, despite such seemingly encouraging words, put these businesses on an ice floe and float them out into the Arctic ocean like some aging Inuit? Clearly, the company is happy to rid itself of the GoTo Corp assets. It seems pretty obvious that they have been a drag on profits, and management has no appetite for further investment.
What happened to GoToMeeting? For one thing, its day came and went. Although many businesses still use GoToMeeting software to conduct remote meetings and web conferences, it relies on last season’s technology, cumbersome client-based software that often has participants scrambling in the final minutes to get it in working order. Would-be users have to turn into their own IT departments as they try to settle conflicts between operating systems, browsers, and other gremlins.
The chief rationale that justified GoToMeeting initially was that it saved travel costs. Such a huge savings was sufficient to get users to forgive some of its shortcomings. But more-modern software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies have come along that offer the same benefit, but are built specifically to increase sales and marketing teams’ effectiveness. ClearSlide, to cite an Endpoint consulting client, offers a rich-media instant-meeting experience for which participants need nothing more than a URL.
With ClearSlide, sales reps can, with no fuss or muss, conduct high-definition presentations, screen-share demos, and send out emails, which are tracked. Presentation content is drawn on demand from a cloud-based sales-materials library and brought down to any mobile device. ClearSlide’s service lets users automatically log customer interactions into sales tools like Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics, permitting them to perform engagement analysis on deals in process to see which are likely to close and which are at risk. More than a point solution like GoToMeeting, ClearSlide combines content, communications, and analytics together in a platform with the potential to transform the business of selling.
At least in part because it was superseded by more recent technology, GoToMeeting and the other GoTo Corp properties weighed heavily on Citrix, and some of the momentum for the proposed divestiture of these assets came from activist-hedge-fund Elliott Management, which scooped up 7 percent of Citrix’s stock early last year and began calling on Citrix to break itself up. Elliott said the company was worth less than the sum of its parts at then-current valuations, but you can be sure that this assessment is based as much on a desire to execute a transaction as to cash out a position.
Elliott Management seems to be betting that pushing Citrix to jettison the less-profitable GoToMeeting division will give the hedge fund a windfall, which would be good for Elliott and its investors. What is not yet clear is whether Tatarinov was hired to help sell off other Citrix businesses or come up with a turnaround plan. Either way, Citrix and its customers face a sea of uncertainty. GoToMeeting customers, who might otherwise get caught in the middle, may want to consider switching to a more modern platform sooner rather than later.