If you want to catch two of the most powerful women in the tech industry hanging out together, get invited to one of SurveyMonkey’s board meetings.
HP CEO Meg Whitman just joined the board of the unicorn startup (valued at $US2 billion in December 2014, when it raised $US250 million).
And Sheryl Sandberg is also on the board. SurveyMonkey is the company where Sandberg’s late husband, Dave Goldberg, was CEO for six years before his tragic death in May.
Although Whitman runs in the same high-powered circles as Sandberg, her connection with SurveyMonkey comes from its current CEO Bill Veghte.
Veghte was a long-time Microsoft exec who was pulled away to join HP by Whitman’s predecessor, Leo Apotheker, when Apotheker tried to turn HP into more of a software company.
After Apotheker was ousted and replaced by Whitman, Veghte’s career had a lot of twists.
He was briefly her chief strategy officer, then COO, then tapped to run the enterprise group, replacing Dave Donatelli. (Donatelli is now working for HP rival Oracle.) He was also running a team organising the HP split, while remaining the general manager of the HP Enterprise group.
But after HP becomes two companies in November, Whitman will be CEO of the spun-out HP Enterprise company. Sticking around would have been almost a demotion for Veghte, and sources had told us that he wasn’t planning on staying.
Meanwhile, Veghte and Goldberg were college buddies and close friends for 30 years. Goldberg had been trying to get Veghte on SurveyMonkey’s board for years, and he had finally agreed to do it after the HP split was done, he told Business Insider.
When SurveyMonkey reached out to him to become CEO the timing couldn’t have been better for Veghte, even though it was under heartbreaking circumstances.
Employees loved the choice. They had taken to wearing “#makedaveproud” T-shirts at work, and they cried and cheered when Goldberg’s good friend, a respected tech exec, took the CEO job.
Now, with Whitman on the board, Veghte’s career has come full circle. It also says something about his opinion of her that he would invite her as a board member.
It all adds up to a bright future for SurveyMonkey, which now has 9 board members and may be readying itself for an IPO sooner rather than later.
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