Splunk announces CEO's departure ahead of positive Q3 results

CEO Douglas Merritt will step down effective immediately.

Data processing and management company Splunk said that CEO Douglas Merritt will step down effective immediately. 

According to the company's press release, Splunk plans to find a new CEO with "a proven track record of scaling operations and growing multi-billion dollar enterprises." During Merritt's tenure, Splunk's revenue has from $302 million in fiscal 2014 to an expected $2.58 billion for fiscal 2022. 

Splunk shares fell about 13% in early trading Monday. 

The vacant leadership role will be filled on an interim basis by Graham Smith, current Chair of Splunk's Board of Directors. Smith has been on the Board since 2011 and as served as chairman since 2019. The interim CEO has also held other senior leadership positions, including CFO of Salesforce, for seven years. Smith plans to focus on "investments and priorities for the company's upcoming fiscal year" while also spearheading the search for a permanent CEO. 

This announcement comes as Splunk revealed preliminary Q3 2021 results that are slated to exceed expectations for the second straight quarter. The preliminary financials boast total revenues of $660 million for the quarter ended October 31, 2021, with contributions from the company's cloud division showing 75% year-over-year growth. Splunk's consistent internal financial growth combined with a recent $1 billion infusion from Silver Lake likely spurred the Board's decision to begin seeking a CEO with experience managing tech firms at scale. The company's Full Q3 financial results are expected to be announced on December 1.