Case Study: Rackspace CEO

Unique culture, shifting market dynamics and a condensed time-frame contributed to a challenging but successful search

 

The Client:
Rackspace, the #1 managed cloud company, helps businesses tap the power of cloud computing without the complexity and cost of managing it all on their own. Rackspace engineers deliver specialized expertise, easy-to-use tools, and Fanatical Support® for leading technologies including AWS, Google, Microsoft, OpenStack and VMware. The company serves customers in 150 countries, including more than half of the FORTUNE 100.

The Challenge:
To identify, recruit, and place an exceptional executive as leader of a culture-driven cloud services company on the heels of an unexpected CEO transition. The task was made more difficult given shifting market dynamics and a challenging competitive environment that is consistently evolving. To be successful, we were going to have to find someone with the right combination of leadership skills and domain expertise, who was also respectful of, and adaptable to, the culture, but with a high enough EQ to evolve the culture further.

The Approach:
Rackspace was taken private in late 2016 by one of the preeminent private equity firms in the world. Given its private ownership structure, it was important to have a new CEO in place in a relatively tight time-frame. We needed to compress a normal 15+ week search into just 6 weeks, while driving search quality and delivering on a wide selection of qualified candidates. This search required the intensive effort of 2 partners and a very committed and focused client.

Once the leading candidate was identified from a pre-selected pool of over 40 viable candidates, we assembled a series of live meetings with the Search Committee and immediately began the process of deep referencing by casting a wide net across our industry contacts, utilizing online search, and reviewing publicly available proxies. We also reviewed all areas of compensation, focusing on historical and market comparative data related to the position. Working with the client, we preemptively built a compelling offer, ready to be presented if our assessments delivered positive results – an important step in helping us maintain control while working our high-urgency process.

In parallel, it was critical our client saw other, top tier candidates so they weren’t making a decision in a vacuum. When a strong candidate emerged, the client immediately made themselves available to meet the candidate live. Meeting this tight timeline would not have been possible without our client’s total commitment to the project and our commitment to match their urgency.

The Result:
Despite the challenges – unique culture, shifting market dynamics and a condensed timeframe – this search was completed in just 40 days.

Joe Eazor joined Rackspace as Chief Executive Officer. A technology industry veteran, Joe served most recently as CEO, President and Director with EarthLink, and currently serves on the Boards of Discover Financial Services and Commvault Systems. Prior to EarthLink, Joe held senior leadership roles with EMC, McKinsey + Company, and HP/EDS.

As a highly sought after candidate, Joe was moving toward an offer on another CEO role for a high growth PE-owned technology company. By combining our efforts with the search committee, respecting Joe’s decision timeline, and having finalized our diligence on his candidacy, we demonstrated that Rackspace was the clear choice.

The Team:

Tim Conti (left), Seth Harris (right)