Splunk’s CEO Doug Merritt Steps Down Despite Positive Q3 Results; Graham Smith Named Interim CEO

The data platform giant Splunk Inc. recently announced that its Chief Executive Officer and President, Doug Merritt, is stepping down from his position. Chair of the Board, Graham Smith, has been appointed as the interim CEO with immediate effect. In addition, based on its preliminary data, the company expects revenue growth for the third quarter of the current fiscal year.

Doug Merritt joined Splunk in 2014 as senior vice president of field operations and was promoted to CEO 19 months later.  “As the Board and I considered how to best position Splunk for long-term success and continued growth, we determined now is the right time to transition to our next phase of leadership,” Merritt said in a statement. “In particular, the Board is focused on identifying a leader with a proven track record of scaling operations and growing multi-billion dollar enterprises.”

Doug Merritt is expected to remain with Splunk Inc. in an advisory role to guarantee a smooth transition as the Board begins its search for Splunk’s next CEO. Graham Smith is expected to focus on investments and priorities for the company’s upcoming fiscal years as the interim CEO. The company is aiming to target continued customer and cloud transformation success as one of its current goals for the upcoming fiscal year.

“Since his appointment as CEO in 2015, Doug has led Splunk through critical product and business model transformations, which have enabled the company to become the leading data platform across security, observability, and IT,” Smith said. “With the proven success of our ongoing cloud transformation and our team’s strong execution, we are confident that Splunk is well-positioned for its next phase of growth.”

Graham Smith will also retain his Chair responsibilities while the Board conducts its search for the next CEO.  Smith has served as a member of Splunk’s Board since 2011 and as Chair since 2019. He has also served in a number of executive positions at Salesforce, including as Chief Financial Officer from 2007 to 2014.

Meanwhile, based on its preliminary unaudited financial information, the San Francisco-headquartered firm expects to report revenue of approximately $660 million for the third quarter ended on October 31, representing a 19 percent growth compared to the same period of the previous fiscal year. For the three-month period to October, it also expects to post an ARR at about $2.825 billion, representing year-over-year growth of 37 percent.

Doug Merritt’s resignation last Monday came less than five months after Silver Lake invested $1 billion into the data platform giant. His departure caps off a number of changes in Splunk’s top management ranks in a little more than a year. 

In April, senior vice president and CTO Tim Tully left Splunk to join a venture capital firm. In May, Splunk hired AWS database executive Shawn Bice to fill the newly created post of president of products and technology.

In September 2020, Susan St. Ledger, then Splunk’s president of worldwide field operations, left the company to take a similar post at identity and access management tech developer Okta.

At the time, Splunk promoted several executives, including Christian Smith to chief revenue officer and John Sabino to chief customer officer. And in April of this year, Splunk hired Teresa Carlson, previously the head of AWS’s public sector business, as president and chief growth officer.


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