A change in executive leadership is underway at Innovative Interfaces. Kim Massana resigned as Chief Executive Officer of Innovative on August 26, 2015 with immediate effect. Innovative did not issue a press release, but contacted many customer representatives and others directly. No specific reasons were given regarding Massana's resignation other than it was by mutual agreement with the company's Board of Directors. The board is constituted by representatives of the two private equity firms that own the company, HGGC and JMI Equity.
Albert E. (“Bert”) Winemiller was named interim Chief Executive Officer, and the company will immediately commence an executive search for a permanent replacement. Winemiller has served as an Operating Partner for JMI Equity since 2011. He was previously CEO and Chairman of PROS Holdings and subsequently joined JMI, which was a major investor and led the company's initial public offering in July 2007. PROS Holdings develops software to assist businesses to set pricing for products to optimize revenue. Winemiller has a long history in the software development industry, beginning with IBM as a systems engineer, writing business systems in assembly language and rising through the executive ranks of other companies, including Automatic Data Processing, Research Ltd, and InfoUSA. He serves on the board of directors of a variety of companies. Winemiller earned an MBA from Harvard University and earned a BA and an MA in statistics and mathematics from the University of Missouri.
The Tenure of Kim Massana
Huntsman Gay Global Capital (HGGC) and JMI Equity acquired Innovative Interfaces from its founder Jerry Kline in February 2012. The new owners conducted an executive search for a new CEO through the Lancer Group, leading to the selection and appointment of Kim Massana in August 2012. Massana had previously worked for Thompson Reuters Elite and held a variety of executive positions for Swets & Maxwell and Equifax.
During his three-year tenure as Chief Executive Officer of Innovative, Massana led the company through a difficult period of transition from a founder-owned and managed company. Under Massana's leadership the company saw significant expansion. It was able to extend its penetration into libraries organically through extremely strong sales for Sierra as its strategic product. The company is on track to make the transition from Millennium to Sierra more quickly than other companies moving from their incumbent products. The company reported 600 Sierra installations made by June 2015. The libraries.org database includes 1,722 library organizations or 3,766 individual facilities using Sierra as of early September 2015. Growth in the customer base has also seen expansion through existing and ongoing sales of its acquired products, including the Polaris ILS, oriented to large public libraries and consortia, and VTLS Vital, the digital asset management platform.
Innovative has expanded its geographical presence, including a new services and development center opened in Noida, India in September 2013 and significant expansion of its Dublin, Ireland office. Innovative made a strategic agreement with Naseej to promote Sierra in academic libraries in the Arab Gulf region in November 2013. Innovative acquired Polaris Library Systems March 2014 in and VTLS in June 2014.
Emphasis on Long-term Business Success
Following the departure of Massana, Innovative enters a new phase, but one not expected to substantially depart from what has been underway for the past three years. In a telephone interview, Winemiller gave assurances that the Innovative continues as a successful company and that he will be working toward its long-term development. While he recognizes that he has not previously worked with library-related organizations, he brings substantial experience in leading software development companies. Though his tenure as CEO will be finite, he emphasizes that his management philosophy consistently focuses on long-term goals.
Winemiller noted that though his role as CEO at Innovative is new, as an Operating Partner for JMI Equity, he has had involvement with the company since its acquisition by JMI and HGGC. He comes into this temporary leadership role with considerable familiarity with the strategy, operations, and many personnel of the company. Although Winemiller serves on the boards of other JMI portfolio companies, he has not been a member of the Board of Directors for Innovative.
One challenges for Winemiller will be guiding its workforce. Innovative Interfaces has experienced some internal issues since its transition in ownership, while continuing to see positive results as measured by product sales to libraries. This has been expressed both in turnover in the executive ranks and employee reviews in some employer rating sites. It is not surprising to see some internal discord following a transition in ownership and executive management that brings in different priorities and strategies.
Winemiller reported that since his arrival into the CEO role, the company conducted an anonymous survey of its employees. Selective results of this survey were provided for this article, including:
- Are you continuously learning and growing at Innovative? Out of 200 responses 163 or 81.5 percent indicated “Yes” with 37 (18.5%) selecting “No.”
- Do you consider Innovative a good place to work? 136 out of 179 responded “Yes”
- At the end of 2014, Innovative reported a total workforce of 416.
From a library customer perspective, Innovative continues to see very strong results in sales of Sierra, especially from libraries migrating from Millennium, as well as from libraries moving from competing products. Given that the confidence in the company providing the product ranks as a major factor in selection decisions, the strong sales for Sierra can be taken as a positive indicator of how libraries perceive Innovative.
Turnover in Executive Team
Innovative has experienced a relatively high turnover in its executive team since its ownership transition. It is not unusual to see some changes in a company's executive team, but the tenure of many of its top executives have been somewhat shortlived. In broad terms, a new executive team formed after Massana was appointed CEO and was followed by a phase where former Polaris executives were placed in prominent leadership positions. Other changes are part of the expected churn related to circumstances of individual executives.
James A. Hofbauer served as the Chief Financial Officer for many years during the period when Innovative was owned and led by Jerry Kline. It is not at all unexpected that an incumbent CFO would exit as a company changes ownership and that its new owners would appoint a new person in this role to represent their financial interests. Bryan Urquhart was named Innovative's CFO in October 2012 and was replaced in June 2014 by Sandy Curry.
Jayanthi “Jay” Shankar joined Innovative as Senior Vice President of Services and Support in September 2013 and served in this position until October 2014.
Chris Le Blanc served as Senior Vice President for Global Sales February 2013 through October 2014.
The acquisition of Polaris Library Systems brought about change in the executive leadership of Innovative. Polaris was an attractive company to acquire due to its extremely successful record of sales in the public library sector and for exceptional product support. Two of the leaders behind that success were appointed to top executive positions for Innovative, displacing individuals that were part of Massana's initial leadership team. William Schickling became Senior Vice President for Global Sales in April 2014, following the acquisition of Polaris by Innovative, stepping into the role previously held by Le Blanc. Jodi Bellinger, with Polaris since 2004 in a variety of roles of increasing responsibility culminating as VP for Customer Operations, was appointed as Vice President of Customer Support Operations for Innovative in April 2014, stepping into the role previously held by Shankar. Bellinger held this position through June 2015.
Innovative Interfaces stands as one of the top companies in the library technology industry and has an promising future. The company's arsenal includes one of the most popular and powerful products for public libraries—Polaris—in addition to the Sierra platform, which has seen impressive adoption since its release as the successor to Millennium. The company continues to cultivate a loyal customer base of libraries not only in the United States but in many international regions.
That said, the future will not be without significant challenges for Innovative. The abrupt exit of a CEO is a major event which flags attention. It promptly appointed a well-qualified interim CEO from the ranks of its ownership equity firms. The next CEO of Innovative will face the enormous task of establishing effective leadership and earning loyalty from the ranks of its global workforce, but especially in gaining the confidence in its customer base of libraries in the many international regions in which it operates.