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Salesforce.com hires ex-Oracle, SAP software executive Wookey

John Wookey, who recently left SAP, is considered an expert at building product teams

By Chris Kanaracus, IDG News Service
November 11, 2011 01:05 PM ET

IDG News Service - Salesforce.com has hired former Oracle and SAP executive John Wookey, adding a seasoned software-development executive to its ranks at a time of rapid growth in both revenue and its breadth of offerings.

"We're thrilled to have John join Salesforce.com," the company said in a statement Friday. "He will be focused on special projects that will help us accelerate social enterprise success for customers."

Wookey was not available for interviews, according to the company.

He left SAP earlier this year after an approximately two-and-a-half year stint, during which he managed the vendor's on-demand software strategy for large enterprises. His hiring in November 2008 was seen as a coup for SAP at the time, and his departure sparked no shortage of speculation about why he decided to leave. In announcing his pending departure in April, SAP and Wookey said he wanted to spend more time with his family.

He has kept a low profile since then, perhaps due to a noncompete agreement with SAP.

Prior to SAP, Wookey was a key executive in charge of Oracle's Fusion Applications, a next-generation suite that came to market this year after a protracted development process. He left Oracle in October 2007.

Wookey is a "good pickup" for Salesforce.com and not one made randomly, said Forrester Research analyst Paul Hamerman. "They're a very innovative company. If they're bringing him in, it means they probably have a ton of strategy behind it."

Salesforce.com may want to build some new products, especially in areas such as accounting or human resources, Hamerman speculated.

Wookey will bring solid product-management skills to the Salesforce.com development organization, said analyst Ray Wang, CEO of Constellation Research. "Wookey is one of the best in enterprise software at building effective teams."

All told, Wookey should have plenty to do. In recent years, Salesforce.com has moved far beyond its roots as a CRM (customer relationship management) vendor, venturing into areas such as social networking and adding new cloud development platforms for Java and other programming languages.

It has also eyed the ERP (enterprise resource planning) market through efforts like FinancialForce.com, its joint venture with Unit 4 Agresso, as well as partnerships with vendors like Workday and Infor.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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