Company: Cornerstone OnDemand
Located: Santa Monica, California
Market: Integrated Talent Management
Key Customers: Barclays, Barnes & Noble, Kelly Services, MasterCard, Turner Broadcasting, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Flextronics, Ticketmaster, Sanford Health, Save the Children
Website: Cornerstone OnDemand
Blog: Talent Management Blog
I asked Adam Miller, Cornerstone OnDemand’s President and CEO a few questions about his business and his view of the SaaS market as we move into 2010.
Did you start out as a Software-as-a-Service company?
We started the company in 1999 as CyberU, which was an on-demand Internet content company, focused on e-Learning. We were on-demand before there was Software-as-a-Service.
The original idea for the company was to provide access to education on-line for individuals and small businesses, which was more of a consumer business model than what we are doing today. CyberU was a distributor of on-line training content as opposed to delivering the courses through a traditional classroom.
What we started to realize is that large companies were interested in educating their employees, so we then begin selling to large Fortune 100 type companies. Many of these companies had a strong resistance to using any type of on-line business solutions, because they felt that it should be inside their own data center behind a secure firewall. There were a lot of concerns around security, scalability and control of business applications. This was about the same time that Amazon.com was launching their on-line retail operations and consumers had similar issues putting their credit card information on-line. From about 2000 through 2006 we were just a small software company that sold training and content over the Internet.
We held to our belief in on-line solutions and even as recently as 2004 we lost many of our deals because we wouldn’t deliver our product as an on-premise offering, but we knew if we did that for even one client we would undo our economic model.
Then over time we were still managing training on-line but our customers wanted to tie the courses back to leadership and succession plans and then led us to rollout an integrated Talent Management suite of solutions. Well, as it turns out the SaaS model has caught on and has grown form less than 300,000 to now over 3.3 million eLearning and Talent Management users, who are happy we decided to deliver our products over the Internet.
Why do your customers buy from Cornerstone OnDemand?
Our customers buy from us because our solutions are better, faster and cheaper than traditional Talent Management solutions.
We are better because we offer a fully integrated talent management platform that covers all of the different aspects of managing people all the way from ‘hire-to-retire’.
Cornerstone OnDemand is faster because our entire system is configurable with 11 discrete modules and over 9,000 individual features, that all can be personalized to address our customer’s business requirements. Our customers can also start with a single model and then turn on incremental modules over time as they are ready for more functionality. Our system can scale to serve the needs of the largest organizations and down to very small companies. In fact, our largest customer is Kelly Services with over 750,000 users and we have eight customers who have more than 150,000 users each. Our average customer has about 14,000 users.
The reason we are cheaper is because we are a pure-play SaaS provider. Our customers have found that it is cheaper to only have to buy from a single supplier, not have to buy hardware and have a lot of staff having to manage multiple systems and relationships.
Our customers also like that we only build products based on their enhancement requests because we don’t build software they don’t want. We currently offer five integrated products including Learning, Performance, Succession, Connect or what some are calling Social Networking and Extended Enterprise which services the needs of non-employees using both our Learning and Connect products. Cornerstone offers global capabilities and has users in 141 countries and supports 16 languages. We think we are doing a good job because we have 95% customer retention rates and that is very important to us.
What do you see as the key trend emerging in the SaaS industry?
The biggest trends we see are Cloud Computing and Mashups. Mashups can be Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) methods to combine application functionality and even integrations between different company’s systems. It is like delivering third party content to customer and they don’t know where it comes from but it is valuable. We anticipate that customers in the near future will be able to do basic integrations between content and systems themselves without needed the assistance of any third party or system integrators and that will be very popular.
We are also starting to see more, large-scale deployments as SaaS becomes more mainstream. As I mentioned earlier we have eight customers with over 150,000 users including some very large banks, insurance and two of the largest healthcare companies who are now deploying Cornerstone OnDemand solutions, which is exciting.
What is your outlook for 2010?
2009 was the best year we have ever had and broke all of our records. We think that 2010 is even going to be better and we are very bullish.
Last year we were able to gain some significant marketshare and we will continue our expansion this year. For instance our partnership with ADP is just getting off the ground and this year we will anticipate more deals from a growing partner pipeline. ADP is proving to be a great partner and has brought a lot of resources to the table and we are optimistic about 2010.
But we are still not out of the woods with the broader economy and there are still has some weak spots, so we will continue to monitor things carefully.