Incoming Amazon Web Services CEO Adam Selipsky will return to AWS in May after a five-year absence during which he led Tableau Software and quadrupled its value in the three years leading up to its US$15.7 billion acquisition by Salesforce in 2019.
Founding AWS CEO Andy Jassy yesterday announced Selipsky would take his place when Jassy succeeds Jeff Bezos as CEO of parent company Amazon.com in the third quarter that starts in July.
Selipsky, an 11-year AWS veteran who was part of its initial launch team in 2006, left AWS in 2016 to lead fellow Seattle company Tableau, which specializes in visual data analytics.
“Adam brings strong judgment, customer obsession, team building, demand generation and CEO experience to an already very strong AWS leadership team,” Jassy said in an email to AWS employees announcing Selipsky’s appointment on Tuesday. “And, having been in such a senior role at AWS for 11 years, he knows our culture and business well.”
Tableau experienced significant success during Selipsky’s tenure as CEO, Jassy said.
“The value of the company quadrupled in just a few years, Tableau transitioned through a fundamental business model change from perpetual licenses to subscription licensing, and the company was eventually acquired by Salesforce in 2019 in one of the largest software acquisitions in history,” Jassy said.
Selipsky will take over a business that Jassy has shepherded into the industry’s largest cloud computing provider with a US$51 billion annual revenue run rate with 28 percent year-over-year growth and a 32 percent market share.
Selipsky will return to AWS on May 17, and he and Jassy will spend the weeks following transitioning together in their new roles before they officially take their new posts sometime in the third quarter.
“It’s easy to forget that AWS is still in the very early stages of what’s possible,” Jassy said in his email to employees. “Less than 5 percent of the global IT spend is in the cloud at this point. That’s going to substantially change in the coming years. We have a lot more to invent for customers, and we have a very strong leadership team and group of builders to go make it happen. Am excited for what lies ahead.”
Here are five things to know about Selipsky.
Selipsky, Tableau and Salesforce
On his LinkedIn page, Selipsky touts his success in building teams, products, markets and equity value, and his extensive general management experience managing teams of thousands and running large business-to-business and consumer businesses at public companies.
Selipsky was named CEO of Tableau, which provides a self-service analytics platform that enables users to access, prepare, analyse and present findings in their data, in August 2016.
Tableau was growing, but it was in the red. Its revenue increased from US$653.6 million in 2015 to US$826.9 million in 2016, but its net loss also grew from US$83.7 million to US$144.4 million.
By 2018, Tableau had reported US$982.9 million in revenue and a loss that ballooned to US$277.2 million.
San Francisco-based Salesforce, a customer relationship management company, acquired Tableau in August 2019. Tableau contributed approximately US$652 million in total subscription and support revenues to Salesforce in fiscal 2020 and US$1.5 billion in fiscal 2021, according to a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing.
‘Boomerang’ AWS employee
Selipsky initially joined AWS in 2005 — a year before it launched its cloud computing business.
He was one of the first vice presidents hired at AWS, according to Jassy’s email.
Selipsky reported directly to Jassy as vice president of marketing, sales and support in a chief operating officer role. He had worldwide responsibility for AWS marketing, sales, business development, partner management, technical support and customer service, and product marketing/management, according to his LinkedIn page.
Selipsky helped grow AWS to a US$13 billion-plus annual revenue run rate at the time and from fewer than 10 employees to thousands, his LinkedIn page states. He also ran AWS platform services for a period.
He was a member of Amazon’s “S-Team,” a group of now 26 senior executives that meets regularly with Bezos to confer on strategic decisions facing the company.
Other work experience
Selipsky’s work experience listed on LinkedIn starts with his role as a principal for Mercer Management Consulting (now Oliver Wyman) in Boston for six years beginning in 1993. He focused on the computing and communications industries there, leading client engagements including marketing strategy, cost benchmarking, strategic growth initiatives, merger analysis, financial planning and process reengineering.
Selipsky then did a six-year stint at Seattle-based RealNetworks, where he last was responsible for more than a third of the company’s revenue as vice president of its video subscription business, RealPlayer and customer support. He previously held posts as vice president of consumer marketing, running Real.com, and as general manager for media systems marketing, responsible for all marketing activities to enterprises, developers and IT organizations.
On his Twitter page, Selipsky refers to himself as a “husband, father, water skier, wine guy, data rockstar” in addition to Tableau’s CEO.
As part of a celebrity auction for the Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA), Selipsky had offered the experience of “boating fun” with him on Lake Washington and Lake Union for up to five people.
“We can talk data, cloud, career, wine, Seahawks or anything else,” Selipsky’s WTTA’s auction listing stated.
Selipsky attended the same private school as former Microsoft co-founders Paul Allen and Bill Gates. The Lakeside School is an independent, coeducational day school for grades five to 12 in Seattle.
And, like Jassy, Selipsky earned his undergraduate degree (in government) from Harvard and his MBA from Harvard Business School, and it appears there was some overlap in the time that they spent there.
When Amazon announced in February that Jassy (pictured) would replace Bezos as CEO, Selipsky offered his congratulations via a tweet: “So happy for @ajassy, @amazon will be in mature, smart, customer obsessed hands.”
Selipsky’s replacement at Tableau
Salesforce has named Mark Nelson (pictured) as Tableau’s new CEO. Nelson has been Tableau’s executive vice president of product development for just shy of three years, leading its global engineering team and helping the company to continue to broaden and deepen its analytics platform, according to his LinkedIn page.
“With Adam Selipsky leaving Tableau to pursue an opportunity outside of the company, Mark Nelson has been appointed president and CEO of Tableau,” a spokesperson for parent company Salesforce said. “With 25 years of enterprise software experience, Mark has been on the Tableau leadership team for three years, and he has deep relationships with our customers and employees. We look forward to Tableau’s continued momentum and customer success.”
Nelson previously was chief technology officer at SAP Concur, a travel, expense and invoice management solutions provider, where he was responsible for all aspects of product development — coding, testing, release management, deployment — and hosting operations for its SaaS services and Concur’s internal IT function.
Nelson also was a nearly 17-year veteran of Oracle, where he was a vice president and architect. In his last position there, he was responsible for cloud infrastructure before leaving the company in late 2013.