On the heels of a $51 million round of funding, cloud collaboration company Huddle today announced a changing of the guard to lead the company to its next stage. Co-founder Alastair Mitchell is stepping down from his role as CEO and assuming a new position as president and CMO. Taking his place is Morten Brogger, a veteran exec whose past roles included CEO of Mach, which he helped sell to Syniverse for $715 million in 2013.
The fact that Brogger has experience with an enterprise exit is no surprise: this is effectively a large part of what he has been brought in to do at Huddle.
When Huddle announced its $51 million growth round last month, it was valued at between $250 million and $300 million. But while there is always the possibility of going public — especially in light of the strong debut from its enterprise cloud services peer, Box — from what we understand the company has also been close but never close enough to possible sales. Potential suitors have included Microsoft and Dropbox, apparently not at the right terms.
For its part, Huddle has been a strong but less flashy competitor in the wider world of enterprise, cloud-based collaboration services. Founded in London, UK, it operates with a dual headquarters, with second co-founder Andy McLoughlin serving as the EVP of strategy and based in San Francisco.
It’s had especially strong traction in certain sectors of the market like government services and large enterprises on both sides of the pond, and says that 80 percent of Fortune 500 and 80 percent of UK government departments, as well as companies such as Kia Motors, Williams Lea, Driscoll’s, Unilever and P&G, are all customers.
But, as a sign of where Huddle sees its business growth and strategic relationships, Brogger will also be basing himself out west. (Mitchell originally did not, but relocated there in 2012.)
Mitchell says that the decision to step down as CEO came straight from himself. “It was my idea and decision,” he said in an interview. “I discussed it with the board and we all felt it was the right move. We are a big business and want to become a very big business.”
He cited Google among the other companies where founders have turned to non-founders to lead their businesses through these growth periods. Whether that might mean that Mitchell or McLoughlin would eventually take the reins down the road (as Page has done at Google from Schmidt) is not clear.
For now, Mitchell sounds positive: “I’m going to be more busy than anything. It’s a good journey.”
Brogger, who also has the advantage of experience with corporate clients in Europe, says he will focus on adding more customised and bespoke services to Huddle’s platform, which was once very unique for how it let users access and share files in the cloud — but is now a much more common feature with similar offerings from Microsoft and many others.
“Rather than focus on simple file synchronization and sharing, which is now a low value commodity, Huddle has differentiated itself by focusing on collaboration and solving the real issue faced by enterprises: working together effectively,” he said in a statement. “This stands Huddle in good stead for the years ahead and I’m keen to take the helm as we accelerate our growth and become the undisputed cloud collaboration leader. We, as well as our customers, are facing an exciting future.”