The NWC Interview: Citrix Systems' Mark Templeton

Citrix Systems' chief executive Mark Templeton talks about the capabilities he's been adding at a time when his company has passed the $1 billion sales mark.

January 19, 2007

3 Min Read
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Mark TempletonCitrix Systems

The move toward consumer-driven IT, as Google has called it, is an attempt to make software applications less complicated. Will this hurt Citrix Systems, which has thrived on reducing the complexity others have created?

Definitely not. As a matter of fact, many of the world's largest Web sites already run on Citrix. When you go to Google, Yahoo, MSN, eBay, Amazon or Apple, you're actually interfacing with those Web sites through our NetScaler infrastructure, which delivers those applications at high performance, manages the security of the site and the data as they travel the network, and then gives the IT organizations in those companies tight control over their costs.

You grew more than 20 percent in 2006 and passed the $1 billion sales mark for the first time. What has to happen for you to continue that sort of growth?

A big factor here is relevance. I've been with Citrix almost 12 years, and our application delivery infrastructure has never been more relevant. We also need to continue to innovate, not only in delivering client-server applications, but in delivering Web applications and desktops as a service, as well.You talk about providing software as a service, but Citrix is primarily known for providing remote access to legacy applications. Isn't that the opposite of SaaS?

Not really. First of all, through Citrix Online, our division that offers GoToMyPC, GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar and GoToAssist, we're probably No. 3 among public companies doing software as a service, after Salesforce.com and WebX. We believe that is actually the model for delivering applications and software in the future. When you look at the infrastructure that's required, there's a lot of complexity in terms of provisioning users, managing their user experience through the lifecycle, and applying tools to measure and monitor performance.You've bought five companies in the past three years. Is it time to take a break?

When we do acquisitions, we're looking to get component parts that we don't have, or domain expertise that we don't have, or time-to-market that we don't have.

All our acquisitions can be characterized that way, and none has really been that large. NetScaler was the biggest; it involved about 225 people and about $330 million. You want to be careful about going too fast, but we do have the capacity to do more.

You've said your goal is to be No. 1 or 2 in every product segment in which you operate, which sounds a lot like Jack Welch talking about GE. Are there any companies, either within or outside high tech, that you're patterning Citrix after?

Well, having been a partner of Microsoft for so long, we are a great admirer of its tradition of innovation, especially when it comes to Windows on the desktop and productivity applications. We're also great admirers of Adobe Systems, for its tremendous brand, and Apple, because of how it has tried to drive simplicity for its users.Probably very few people know that Citrix wouldn't be in business today if not for a million-dollar eleventh-hour investment by Microsoft a decade ago. If Microsoft were to offer you, oh, 7,000 times that amount tomorrow, would you say, 'I'm yours'?

Tough question! As a member of the board and CEO of a public company, I'd do what was right for our shareholders. But our strategy is very much to be independent and continue to grow and make a difference in the industry.

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