Business

Former SAS executive says leaving wasn’t easy

Jim Davis said he decided to depart SAS and take a similar role at a firm based in California after receiving an unsolicited offer that he couldn’t refuse.
Jim Davis said he decided to depart SAS and take a similar role at a firm based in California after receiving an unsolicited offer that he couldn’t refuse. News & Observer file photo

Jim Davis, the long-time executive vice president and chief marketing officer at business software giant SAS, said his recent decision to leave the company was a difficult one.

Davis said in an interview Friday that he decided to depart SAS and take a similar role at Informatica, a privately held data management firm based in California, after receiving an unsolicited offer that he couldn’t refuse.

“The decision to leave SAS was my decision and mine only,” Davis said. “It was something that took a number of months of contemplating.”

Davis had only praise for SAS.

“I couldn’t have gotten the job at Informatica had I not had the run I had at SAS,” Davis said. “SAS has been extremely good to me over the years and Jim Goodnight (SAS’s co-founder and CEO) has been great to work for over the years and he’s been most gracious supporting my decision to go in a different direction.”

Cary-based SAS disclosed last week that Davis, who was chief marketing officer for 14 years, had resigned to take “a leadership position” at Informatica but didn’t have any details about his new job. And Informatica declined to comment at that time.

Davis said that although his title is the same at Informatica, “it’s a different environment where I feel I can continue to learn and grow. ... The appeal is working in an environment I haven’t worked in before, a private equity environment.”

Informatica, a 3,700-employee company whose software helps companies manage massive amounts of data, was acquired for $5.3 billion earlier this year by a group led by private equity firm Permira and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. The company, which previously was publicly held and generated $1.05 billion in revenue in 2014, was under pressure from activist investor Elliott Management at the time.

“Informatica was very profitable. It wasn’t a fire sale by any means,” Davis said. “The company was doing quite well and it continues to do quite well.”

Davis said he doesn’t consider Informatica a direct competitor of SAS – and that he wouldn’t have joined the company if it was.

“I think SAS and Informatica were direct competitors 10 years ago,” he said. “The two companies have diverged ... I think there’s a slight overlap today.”

SAS, said Davis, “is in great shape. They own the analytics space.”

Nor does he expect SAS to have trouble replacing him.

“I had a lot of direct reports,” Davis said. “They’re all good people and they’ve all been there a really long time.”

Davis plans to maintain his residence in Cary and will split his time between North Carolina and California when he joins Informatica Jan. 4.

Informatica, which acquired Triangle startup StrikeIron last year, has 70 employees in Cary.

Davis frequently served as SAS’s point man with the media, including discussing the company’s financial performance each year, and with others.

Corporations, government agencies and others use SAS business intelligence and analytics software to analyze their operations and forecast trends. It generated $3.09 billion in revenue last year and has 13,945 employees worldwide, including 7,067 at its Cary headquarters.

David Ranii: 919-829-4877, @dranii

  Comments