Five key takeaways from Workday's IPO filing

The S-1 filing paints a fuller picture of the cloud software vendor's future and culture

By , IDG News Service |  Software

At the same time, Workday doesn't lock down its top employees into contracts, so if any of them get tired of pleasing customers, they are free to go elsewhere. "We do not have employment agreements with our executive officers or other key personnel that require them to continue to work for us for any specified period and, therefore, they could terminate their employment with us at any time," the S-1 states.

Customers can't cancel early: About that customer-friendliness -- like anything, it only goes so far. Another passage in Workday's S-1 reveals that its "subscription contracts are non-cancelable, and typically have a term of three to five years."

While cloud vendors have long pointed to the added flexibility subscription pricing gives customers, including increased freedom to switch software companies. But "non-cancelable" contracts, as much as they protect Workday's revenue streams, seem more like the "lock-in" SaaS (software as a service) vendors tend to decry.

Workday's intimate ties to its most prominent reference customer: Big-name reference customers are key for any new company seeking credibility with the market, especially the large enterprises Workday is courting.

Workday managed to get one of these early on in the form of $30 billion electronics manufacturer Flextronics, which signed a 200,000-seat deal for Workday's HR software. That move could have helped Workday land other high-profile deals, such as with Kimberly-Clark.

Flextronics CIO David Smoley has frequently spoken to the press about Workday and appeared at industry events along with Workday executives.

Now Workday's S-1 sheds some additional light on its relationship with Flextronics. The companies signed the HR software pact in 2008 and since then, Flextronics has made a series of payments to Workday totaling about $5.7 million. That's a "great deal" in Pazahanick's view.

In addition, Flextronics CEO Michael McNamara sits on Workday's board of directors.

While the companies' relationship may include some mutual back-scratching, it also underscores the fact that a corporation the size of Flextronics is willing to stake its own reputation on Workday.

Workday's financial battle against Oracle and SAP has a long way to go: Workday started out with HR software but has made it clear that it wants to displace or beat out the likes of Oracle and SAP for core financials.

The S-1 makes it clear that Workday has more work to do in this pursuit. Just 10 percent of Workday's customers have adopted its financial management software, according to the filing.

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