April 16, 2024

News and Political Commentary

Frank Slootman out as Snowflake CEO in leadership change

2 min read

Frank Slootman did it again. Now it’s succession time.

Slootman is leaving his CEO role at Snowflake while remaining chairman, as surprised investors learned in an earnings call this week. Filling his shoes is Sridhar Ramaswamy, previously senior vice president of artificial intelligence at the cloud data analytics company.

Slootman said of the leadership change, “We didn’t have to. We did it because we wanted to…With the onslaught of generative AI, Snowflake needs hard-driving technologists to navigate the challenges the new world represents.”

Slootman, 65, joined Snowflake in 2019 and led it through its blockbuster IPO the following year. That was hardly his first rodeo, however. He shepherded two other enterprise technology companies through their IPOs: Data Domain in 2007 and ServiceNow in 2012. 

But his hard-charging leadership style has garnered perhaps as much attention as his track record, with some likening him to his counterpart at Tesla. 

“Frank Slootman is the Elon Musk of enterprise software,” Gainsight CEO Nick Mehta posted in a since-deleted tweet a few years ago.

‘Seek the confrontation’ 

Under Slootman’s leadership philosophy, chief executives need to boost the intensity among employees and get used to confrontation, as he wrote in his 2022 book Amp It Up. He’s noted that many young CEOs feel uncomfortable doing so. 

“They just think, ‘I hire a bunch of people, and then I sit back and wait for greatness.’ They have no idea that they have to relentlessly drive every second of the day, every interaction, and seek the confrontation,” Slootman told the No Priors podcast last year.

He added, “CEO jobs are insanely confrontational, which is not human nature. We don’t like it. We’re not naturally confrontational.” 

Slootman, like Musk, has courted controversy. In 2021, he drew backlash after saying that, when hiring or promoting employees, Snowflake should focus more on merit than…

Steve Mollman

2024-03-01 16:46:31

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