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NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson: 'Pure cloud' strategy pays off

Sarah Putt | May 16, 2013
NetSuite's third annual conference opened in San Jose today with a keynote speech from CEO Zach Nelson that featured customer stories, new product announcements and some outspoken criticism of the opposition, notably SAP.

NetSuite's third annual conference opened in San Jose today with a keynote speech from CEO Zach Nelson that featured customer stories, new product announcements and some outspoken criticism of the opposition, notably SAP.

NetSuite is a cloud-based financial and ERP solution that is, according to Nelson, on track to generate US$100 million in revenue in the next financial quarter (first quarter revenue was $91.6 million).

Nelson says NetSuite has 700 partners and 2000 employees globally and posted a $19.1 million profit in the past financial year. The company, which began in 1998, has around 16,000 customers.

On the eve of the conference, Gartner named NetSuite the fastest growing financial management services (FMS) vendor globally, and "the only pure cloud company among Top 15 global FMS vendors".

Attendee numbers at SuiteWorld -- the name given to NetSuite's annual conference - are also on the rise. The first conference attracted 1200 attendees, last year's number 3000, and this year 5000 customers, partners, media and analysts are present.

During his 90-minute keynote speech Nelson said the company had signed some large enterprise customers, demonstrating how NetSuite is moving up the food chain. The most significant is Qualcomm, the chip manufacturer, which has 26,000 staff worldwide.

Another new customer is Williams-Sonoma, a US$4 billion revenue retailer based in the US. It signed with NetSuite for its expansion into the Australian market with brands Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, and West Elm. The multi-channel retail and business management platform was deployed in three months and the Australian stores and websites opened to the public two weeks ago.

New partnerships were also announced, notably Capgemini which has offices and operations in 44 countries and recently returned to New Zealand when it picked up an IRD contract. Another partnership with Autodesk, a provider of cloud-based design and engineering software, heralded NetSuite's move into cloud-based ERP solutions specifically for the manufacturing sector.

In the press release announcing the Autodesk partnership, Nelson takes aim at arch-competitor SAP, claiming that "while SAP is busy talking about database technologies that are irrelevant to manufacturers, NetSuite is investing in next-generation cloud application solutions".

"To be a hero you have to have an anti-hero -- SAP fill that role with," Nelson told the audience during his keynote (the conference theme is heroes).

But it didn't all go according to script. During the on-stage interview with Qualcomm CIO Norm Fjeldheim, he said: "If I was Oracle and SAP I'd be really worried."

The audience laughed - Oracle founder Larry Ellison is the largest shareholder in NetSuite -- and Nelson shrugged: "Well, SAP maybe," he replied.

Local context
After the keynote speech, Computerworld asked Ben Kepes, an international consultant on cloud computing based in New Zealand, to provide some local context. He's attended all three NetSuite conferences, so the first question was, so the first question was, why openly criticise the opposition?

 

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