NetSuite CEO Nelson: Spare me the Workday collision talk

"People run their business on NetSuite. Believe me, nobody runs their business on Workday. They run their HR group on Workday. It's very different," says NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson said the theory that it will ultimately compete with Workday, which is developing financials to go with its human resources software, is a bit of a stretch. He also played down competition from the likes of Plex and Intacct, which Nelson characterized as "zombie" companies.

Nelson spoke on Tuesday at JMP Securities' investment conference. JMP analyst Patrick Walravens has made the case that Workday and NetSuite will ultimately collide. Walravens' argument is solid in many ways, but has a few holes.

Smart Planet: NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson on micromanaging

Previously: Workday vs. NetSuite: Is a collision inevitable?

As for Nelson, here's what he had to say about Workday competition:

I always say -- other than the fact that Workday has no financials and we really have no HR, we compete all the time. I mean, we compete not at all. There's---in terms of market segment, in terms of functionality ---there's really zero overlap between these companies.

We acquired an HR company for mid-sized companies, TribeHR, and they're talking about delivering financials for large enterprises. But all you have to do is look at our financials to see how different the companies are.

zach nelson

Nelson also said Workday has a long way to go with their financials software.

People run their business on NetSuite. Believe me, nobody runs their business on Workday. They run their HR group on Workday. It's very different.

So while they're talking about financials, they have a long way to go, I think. They'll do it for much larger companies. I think Workday is a great company. I think they've done amazing things in HR. I think they still have a lot of stuff to do in HR. And while financials is a glimmer in their eye, I think we have very different strategies.

Even if and when they get financials, it's going to be minuscule overlap. And again, that's the other thing. I'm not saying this pejoratively, but they called it financials, Workday financials. We don't call our product financials. We are a business-process machine that happens to spit out financials.

At least you know where Nelson stands on Walravens' Workday as competition argument.

Nelson's best quips came when he was asked about Intacct and Plex. Regarding Intacct, which just raised more funding, Nelson said:

We're ten times their size. We were born in the same year, practically. It's a zombie company.

When asked about Plex, Nelson had a similar take.

They've been around -- I mean, same problems, right? They've been around for the same amount of time. I don't want to speak badly about any of these companies, but there's got to be something different -- you know, when you're ten times the size of the guys who were started at the same time, something fundamentally different is going on, right?

You don't want to whistle by the graveyard, but it's a graveyard littered with lots of dead companies that used to compete with us.

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