January 31, 2008

Ellen Rubin is leaving Netezza

The problem with filling a VP Marketing job is that all the good ones want — and are qualified — to be CEOs. It’s possible to have a great sales manager who doesn’t understand technology very well, or a wonderful development chief who doesn’t quite mesh with coin-operated sales folks. But a marketer has to understand sales and technology and strategy and a bit of management, and hence the best ones are safe bets to move on to CEO opportunities.

And so Ellen Rubin is leaving Netezza, after six years. She says she knows which techie founder she probably will partner with for her new CEO gig, but it’s all stealth/hush-hush at the moment. Phil Francisco gets promoted to VP of Product Management/Product Marketing. Somebody named Tim Young, from Netezza’s European field marketing operation, will come to the US to head marcom and the like.

I think there will be good continuity in the transition, and not a lot of business impact, Ellen’s deservedly strong reputation in the industry notwithstanding. More personally, Netezza has been my favorite client to work with for the past few months, which was quite the surprise after my earlier blood-from-turnip attempts to squeeze information out of them. But things suddenly got very relaxed, with a lot of good communication in both directions, and a lot of laughter as well. I hope that continues.

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6 Responses to “Ellen Rubin is leaving Netezza”

  1. Bob Zurek on February 1st, 2008 12:33 am

    Good luck to Ellen. Your a great marketing executive.

  2. Thomas on February 1st, 2008 2:13 am

    Really? Marketing VPs as CEOs are great? Really? All the marketing VPs I know are full of it and couldn’t understand technology if the techies weren’t there to lead them by the hand.
    I’d hate to invest in any company with a marketing VP as CEO.

  3. Curt Monash on February 1st, 2008 2:34 am


    You slightly missed my point. If a marketing VP isn’t technical enough to be a decent CEO, then s/he also isn’t technical enough to be a good marketing VP in my estimation.

    I’ll confess that it’s a little hard to test my claim, because almost everybody started out either as a quota-carrying salesperson or else as a coder. What’s more, at large companies it’s common to have jobs overseeing either marketing+development (at software vendors) or marketing+sales (at hardware vendors), more than pure marketing. Still, when a venture capitalist puts a star marketing executive like Dave Kellogg or Tom Herring in charge of a company, they’re likely to wind up making a nice return on their investment.


  4. Daniel Weinreb on February 1st, 2008 8:41 am

    At Object Design, the VC’s felt that we co-founders were strong on technology but weak on marketing and business, and so they installed a marketing guy from Oracle as CEO. He was not technical to speak of, certainly not enough to use our product. But he actually worked out well: he cooperated well with and trusted the VP of Engineering. So I would not write off a marketing person as a high-tech CEO, per se.

    That said, my current employer, ITA Software, has a CEO who is highly technical (as well as being a great leader and businessman), and it’s a huge plus. Such people are hard to find. (He was the founder.)

  5. Eric Rogge on February 15th, 2008 7:20 pm

    Well, it was only a matter of time regarding Ellen – My best wishes to her! WRT to the comment about VPs of marketing not being technical, some are and some aren’t. I’ve done my fair share of assembly, Basic, C, Javascript and SQL coding.

  6. ITA Software and Needlebase | DBMS2 -- DataBase Management System Services on April 21st, 2010 1:10 pm

    […] ITA Software is run by a techie (again, see Dan Weinreb’s comment). […]

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