Is Todd Bradley Tibco Software’s Answer for Tableau Software?

Tibco Software seemed awefully excited about its hire of Todd Bradley, but should you?

Jun 23, 2014 at 12:05PM

Despite Tibco Software's (NASDAQ:TIBX) near 6% stock loss after reporting second-quarter results, there is some excitement on social media channels surrounding its hire of Todd Bradley as president. Bradley, formerly at Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE:HPQ), most notably headed a $60 billion printing and PC business. As Tibco's competition against Tableau Software (NYSE:DATA) intensifies, will Bradley prove to be a good hire for this key role?

Who is Todd Bradley?
If you read Tibco's press release regarding its new hire, the company seems very excited about Bradley, as are several big-name CEOs who issued their support of the hire. Tibco specifically talks about Bradley's time as HP's executive vice president of its Printing and Personal Systems Group, a $60 billion annual business.

Given this experience and its enormous responsibilities, Tibco is hoping that Bradley can show global responsibility for the customer-facing functions of sales, marketing and professional services, with a focus on creating and increasing value for the company. Also, the company is likely hoping that Bradley can help it with a little problem called Tableau Software.

Let's look deeper at HP saga
Bradley has held several key positions during his career, but the HP role is his most celebrated. However, it wasn't all rainbows and unicorns during his tenure between 2005 and 2014, as he held several different positions that created quite a bit of controversy during this time.

In 2011, BGR reported that Bradley was looking to leave HP in search of a CEO role and was interviewing for every CEO job he could. Reportedly, he was having a hard time finding work, and was even passed over for Leo Apotheker at HP. During this time, investors expected him to take control of a PC spinoff, which never occurred.

In June 2013, Bradley's position as VP of the large printing and PCs division was changed to the title of VP for strategic growth initiatives so he could focus on China. In the quarter prior to this news, HP's PC unit reported a 21% year-over-year revenue decline to $7.3 billion while its profit margin declined from 5.6% to 3.3%.

Reuters then reported in February 2014 that Bradley had been sidelined by CEO Meg Whitman. HP spokesperson Michael Thacker told Reuters that Bradley "was not making progress fast enough on the turnaround, and Meg wanted new leadership in those roles."

What's next for Tibco?
With all things considered, Tibco is getting an executive who is accomplished but was seemingly forced out of HP for a lack of performance. Notably since his departure, the PCs segment has seen a rebound, with year-over-year sales growth of 7% and 4% during the last two quarters, respectively. The most significant reason for this newfound growth has been commercial and enterprise PC sales, which grew 12% in the last quarter.

Bradley may be a great organizer and leader, but his strength does not appear to be company turnarounds. This could be bad news for Tibco, a company that desperately needs to find a way to attract new enterprise users to drive license revenue higher, and is in the midst of a turnaround-like process.

In Tibco's last quarter, its license revenue accounted for 30% of total sales and fell 7% over the prior-year period. The company blamed poor execution, but in the meantime, big-data peer Tableau saw its year-over-year license revenue rise 83% in the first quarter and 95% in the fourth quarter, as it continued to put fundamental pressure on Tibco.

While Tibco CEO Vivek Ranadive insists that its products are better for analyzing data, and that execution -- along with the need for a cheaper service -- is its only problem, the market feels differently, and Tableau is quickly becoming the biggest and most popular name in big data.

Foolish thoughts
Bradley may bring something to the table, but it's unknown as to how he'll be able to close the gap between Tibco and Tableau in terms of growth, or make Tibco's flagship product Spotfire more appealing to consumers and small businesses. Until we see fundamental proof of a turnaround, investors should tread carefully before turning bullish on this big-name hire.

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Brian Nichols has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Tibco Software. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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