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Former SAP Concur exec Christal Bemont named Talend CEO

Talend named Christal Bemont its new CEO on Thursday after Mike Tuchen stepped down after six years in the role. Bemont comes to Talend following 15 years at SAP Concur.

With Mike Tuchen stepping down after six years of leadership, Christal Bemont is the new Talend CEO.

The move, revealed on Thursday morning, is representative of a heightened focus on the cloud for Talend, a data integration software vendor founded in 2004 and based in Redwood City, Calif.

Bemont, who in addition to being the new Talend CEO will serve on the company's board of directors, spent the past 15 years at SAP Concur, where she held a variety of sales and leadership positions before rising to chief revenue officer in April 2019. Just before her role as chief revenue officer, Bemont was senior vice president and general manager of SAP Concur's Small, Midsized and Nationals business unit, helping to grow the group 168% in four years.

Christal BemontChristal Bemont

Bemont has particular expertise in building cloud businesses scaled for growth having helped lead SAP Concur's conversion from on premises to the cloud; transformation to the cloud has been a point of emphasis for Talend over the past 18 months.

In addition to adding Bemont, Talend named Ann-Christel Graham to the newly created position of chief revenue officer and Jamie Kiser its new chief customer officer. Graham joins Talend from SAP Concur, where she was vice president of sales for enterprise clients, while Kiser most recently vice president of the global public sector for SAP Concur.

"I'm super excited about this opportunity," Bemont said. "At Talend we're looking at how the future is going to be, how to show up uniquely for the customer. We're looking at what companies will need in the future -- how data becomes a competitive advantage and not a hindrance."

With cloud migration as a central tenet, in her new role as Talend CEO Bemont said she aims to guide the company from $250 million in annual revenue to $1 billion.

"A timeline will evolve," she said. "What's more important right now is to architect in 2020 and put things in place. We need to be specific about what a $1 billion company looks like and how to get there."

Talend has come a long way and its fortunes have improved, but it's in a competitive market and this CEO appointment seems to be about setting a new direction.
Doug HenschenAnalyst, Constellation Research

Bemont declined to say whether Tuchen stepped down as Talend CEO entirely of his own volition or whether the move was initiated by the board of directors, and called the move a "collaboration" between Tuchen and the board over the past year. She added, however, that Tuchen was heavily involved in the process of choosing a successor, having more conversations with Bemont than anyone else, and will remain a member of Talend's board.

Doug Henschen, analyst at Constellation Research, speculated that the appointment of a new Talend CEO likely represents a blend of both Tuchen deciding to step down and the board wanting new company leadership.

"It's possible that both of these conditions are true," he said. "Talend has come a long way and its fortunes have improved, but it's in a competitive market and this CEO appointment seems to be about setting a new direction with the press release specifically talking about 'accelerating our cloud transformation' and setting a 'broader go-to-market strategy.'"

In fact, Henschen added, the additions of Graham and Kiser are further evidence of Talend's desire to move in a new direction.

"It's not at all unusual for new CEOs to bring in people they have worked with and trust to serve in key roles, but that often happens slowly with the new CEO not making waves too quickly," he said. "In this case Bemont has been given free rein to bring in new people out of the gate, which is another signal that the board wanted a fresh start with a new team."

Tuchen took over as Talend CEO in 2013, and in his six years of leadership the company grew from $50 million in annual revenue to $250 million. In July 2016, Tuchen helped Talend go public.

After opening at $25.50 per share, Talend's stock reached a peak of just under $70 per share in September 2018 and has recently been trading at around $40 per share.

Over the past 18 months Tuchen began Talend's transformation to the cloud, and under his guidance cloud annual recurring revenue (ARR) accounted for more than 50% of the vendor's new ARR in the most recent quarter, Steve Singh, chairman of Talend's board of directors, noted in a release.

Bemont, who Singh worked with when he was president of a division of SAP that included Concur, given her extensive cloud market and SaaS expertise, is expected to help accelerate Talend's transformation to the cloud.

"Over the past few months it became the time to put operations in hyper-growth mode," Bemont said.

By ascending to the role of Talend CEO, Bemont is now one of a small number of women leading technology vendors, joining, among others, Ginni Rometty at IBM. Jennifer Morgan was recently appointed co-CEO of SAP along with Christian Klein after and Safra Catz at Oracle Bill McDermott abruptly stepped down last October.

"Diversity is really important to me, not just gender diversity," Bemont said. "Diversity gives you different ways of looking at things, different input, a combination of minds rather than being single-minded. Diversity is critically important in getting to bigger and more complete thoughts, and that's the focus."

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