PTC this week capped off a
succession plan it put in place nearly 18 months ago by naming long-time
technology strategist, current Chief Operating Officer and President Jim
Heppelmann as the company's new CEO. He succeeds Richard Harrison, who will
remain the company's executive chairman.
Heppelmann joined PTC in 1998 as a senior vice president
when PTC acquired Windchill Technology, the company he founded that is now the
core of PTC's
enterprise PLM product platform. Heppelmann's deep technical roots and
close ties to the engineering community were quickly recognized, earning him
the CTO title in 2001, and two years later, an appointment as chief product
officer. In this role, Heppelmann was responsible for strategic direction, product
development and marketing. He joined PTC's Board of Directors in May 2008 and
was named the company's president and COO last March, an appointment which
seemed to finalize the formal succession plan.
Heppelmann, who holds a degree in mechanical engineering,
says he has personal expertise with the kinds of problems PTC's customers are
trying to solve. "I've developed software, I've architected software and
deployed software," he says. "I'm very close to the actual use of technology
and the customer environment and that helps me guide PTC where it's going."
Heppelmann's roots in technology are another differentiator
between himself and Harrison. "I'm a technologist with a good understanding of
customers and sales, while (Harrison) is a sales expert with good understanding
of technology," he says. Heppelmann said he has been guiding PTC's product
direction for the last few years, with great influence from Harrison and PTC's
top management team. The transition is slated to occur as PTC closes fiscal
2010. Harrison will continue in an executive chairman role, focusing on key
customer and investor relationships — a move that plays to his strengths,
The succession comes at a time when PTC is enjoying renewed
growth. The company is on track to achieve its goal of 20 percent non-GAAP
earnings growth and is projecting slightly over a $1 billion in revenue for
fiscal 2010. PTC hit the $1 billion revenue mark in the late 1990s, but the
company's fortunes went south after the tech bust in the early 2000s hitting
its nadir of $660 billion in sales for fiscal 2004. PTC was back in growth mode
during the mid-2000s, but it took a turn for the worse in 2008 as the recession
took a dramatic bite out of companies' budgets for engineering and product
development software. With its billion-dollar revenue goal back in sight,
Heppelmann says he's pleased with the growth curve and doesn't expect any
changes in product direction.
With Windchill now the centerpiece of PTC's strategy,
accounting for 50 percent of the firm's revenue, Heppelmann says the time is
ripe for PTC to have a technical leader at the helm. "It's important to have a
technical leader going forward given that the company has reshaped itself
around this technology," he says.
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