I posted the first version of this piece in mid-2015. It is definitely time for an update.   I’d also like to add two observations:

  • With the benefit of even more hindsight, I’m even more impressed with the accomplishments of my former colleagues at Ariba.  (As well as with those who are still at SAP Ariba!)  It really was an amazing group of people.
  • I’ll apologize again, in advance, to the many accomplished people I will leave out due to space constraints and my limited knowledge.  Readers should feel free to add other folks into the comments section!

Updated Post

PayPal’s “mafia” is justifiably famous.  PayPal alumni include: Peter Thiel, Reid Hoffman, Elon Musk, Roelof Botha, Max Levchin, Chad Hurley, Jeremy Stoppelman and many more.  Since leaving PayPal, they have founded companies worth billions of dollars.


Around the time that PayPal was beginning to work its magic (2000), I joined a bubble-era high-flyer, Ariba. Ariba’s alumni may not quite match the PayPal team for pure “star power”, but it is an impressive group in the less glamorous enterprise software space.

During the decade I spent with Ariba, I had the good fortune to work with many talented people. The founders (and once-high-flying stock) attracted an impressive group.   As a result, much of my time working at Ariba consisted of simply executing strategies developed by the founding team in 1996-1999!   The subsequent management team that led the company from the doldrums of 2001 until its sale to SAP added more great people.

Here’s an incomplete (and random order) list of alumni whose subsequent exploits I am aware of:

  • Keith Krach, an Ariba co-founder, is Chairman of DocuSign (IPO candidate and unicorn) and former Chairman of Angie’s List.
  • Bob Calderoni, Ariba’s second CFO and CEO for almost 15 years, guided the company through the low point to a sale to SAP.  The SAP Ariba sale was really amazing in that it benefited:
    • Ariba shareholders ($4.5 billion)
    • SAP
    • Ariba’s Network business (now processing more than $1.25 trillion in spend)
    • and even Coupa! (by allowing Coupa to claim ERP “independence”)

Calderoni has been Executive Chairman at Citrix, Chairman at Anaplan, an advisor to Silver Lake, and is on too many boards to name.

  • Dave McCormick, former President of FreeMarkets, is Co-CEO of Bridgewater Associates, a $150 billion hedge fund.
  • Kevin Costello, former President of Ariba, is Chairman of two companies, HotSchedules and FinancialForce, and is on the board of several more.
  • Kent Parker, who was COO and EVP, is an investor and advisor to too many companies to list.  Every time I come across a cool supply chain company, Kent has invested in it!
  • Craig Federighi, former CTO and all-around genius, is SVP of Software Engineering at a little company called Apple.

That is just the start…

  • Marianna Tessel, former VP of Engineering, is SVP of Engineering at Docker.  STEM women rule!
  • Elaine Kitagawa, a director in Finance at Ariba was CFO of Lynda, which LinkedIn bought for more than $1 billion.
  • Eileen Martinson, who ran consulting, is CEO of Sparta Systems.
  • Marcus Ryu, John Raguin, and several other ex-Aribians founded Guidewire Software (now public).
  • Joe Juliano, an SVP at Ariba and FreeMarkets, was President of Red Prairie and was CEO of IQNavigator.
  • David Rudnitsky, left Ariba sales (along with several other folks) for Salesforce. (Dave was subsequently highlighted in Marc Benioff’s book, Behind the Cloud.)  Dave then ran enterprise sales for  Now he runs enterprise sales at Yext, which went public yesterday.  If you invested at each company Rudnitsky went to, when he went there, you would be rich– without doing any of the work!
  • Paul Melchiorre, who also ran sales, was President of iPipeline and is CRO at Anaplan working with the Calderoni Brothers!
  • Bhaskar Himatsingka, former CTO at Ariba, was CTO at Emdeon and is now Chief Product Officer at Adaptive Insights.
  • Tayloe Stansbury, former EVP at Ariba, is CTO at Intuit.

And there’s more…

  • Sanish Mondkar, ex-CTO, deserves much of the credit for the success of the Ariba Network.  He is now doing a really cool start-up that I’m probably not supposed to talk about.
  • Jim Frankola, former CFO, is CFO of Cloudera, which recently filed to go public.
  • John True, ran sales for Ariba and ran sales for at least three other successful companies.  He now invests in really cool companies.
  • Neil Lustig, who also ran sales (as you can see we cycled through that position), is now CEO at SailThru.
  • Greg Dickinson, John Abbatico, Allison Barry, Doug Udoff, Mark Deluca and several others successfully built and sold Hiperos.
  • Ken Stanick, is running a massive sales effort at Amazon Business and scaring the rest of the B2B e-commerce world half to death.
  • Peter Lugli, the father of AribaPay at SAP Ariba, is now at Mastercard cooking up top-secret stuff, no doubt.
  • David Middler, GC at Ariba, is now Chief Legal Officer at Cloudera.
  • Jim Steele, EVP of Sales at Ariba, became President of Salesforce, was at and is now President and CRO at Yext.
  • John Baumstark was COO of Tradex which was sold to Ariba for $5.6 billion. He is now Chairman and CEO of Suniva.
  • Jason Kurtz and Rachel Spasser are at Accel-KKR buying up every cool B2B network they can find.
  • Mark Dao, an SVP of Engineering, is now Chief Product Officer at Mulesoft which recently went public.
  • Bob Elliott, was Director of Sales, became Managing Director of SAP Canada and is now SVP Global Sales at Hootsuite.
  • Pierre-Francois Thaler, started his own company, EcoVadis, which recently raised $30 million in a follow-on round.
  • Cindy Elkins, was the original supplier champion at Ariba and taught me everything I know about suppliers.  Cindy became VP of Informatics at Genentech and is a board member at Weight Watchers Intl. (This means she probably knows Oprah!)
  • Michael Schmitt, who was CMO, has been CMO (or CEO) at several companies. He is currently CMO at Adaptive Insights.
  • Ravi Kumaraswami, who ran sales, is now Chief Revenue Officer at Lithium Technologies.  At Lithium, he has hired too many ex-Aribians to name them all.
  • Dan Graham, who ran finance for the Ariba Network is now CFO of MercuryGate. (A hot SaaS TMS vendor.)
  • Last, but by no means least, Tim Hamilton, who ran North American Sales, was also my mentor/sensei to the tech world.  Tim went on to run sales at Zilliant and Icix, and large sales regions at Coupa.  Tim is now an advocate and fund-raiser for ALS, which is more important that all the rest of the stuff above and puts it all in perspective.  Please support Tim’s fundraising efforts here.


Even though I am offending hundreds of worthy people by leaving them out, I’m going to stop here.  Believe me, there were many more talented people in every area of Ariba from pre-sales to finance.  There are also more than a few talented folks still working at SAP Ariba!

We always hear about the CEOs and the top people, but many of the less publicized masses are every bit as important to the success of the enterprise.  I hope I’ve shined a light on just a few of them.  It takes a village to build a B2B unicorn. Or as we said way back when: to make the ‘net work for B2B!

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