MercuryGate taps Oracle executive as CTO; outsider to oversee company’s IT infrastructure

New leader comes from the outside (Source: MercuryGate)

Transportation management systems provider MercuryGate International Inc. said today it named former Oracle Corp. (NASDAQ:ORCL) executive Beth Hendriks to be chief technology officer, the first major personnel move by MercuryGate’s new owners since it acquired the company in late August and reshuffled its top management.

Hendriks will be responsible for MercuryGate’s technology infrastructure and plot the company’s “product roadmap,” Cary, N.C.-based MercuryGate said in a statement. At Oracle, Hendriks was what MercuryGate called a “cloud strategist and business architect.” Before that, she was senior vice president and CTO at Jaggaer, a cloud-based business automation provider. There, she directed research and development, production infrastructure and support, and corporate IT. She has also held senior-level positions at EMC Corp. and NetApp.

Hendriks, who starts Jan. 14, will succeed Steve Blough, a MercuryGate co-founder who has been serving as acting CTO. Blough and Monica Wooden, MercuryGate’s other founder, had been the company’s president and CEO, respectively. However, when the company was acquired for a rumored $390 million by private equity firm Summit Partners, Blough and Wooden were reassigned and Joe Juliano, the former president of supply chain software firm Red Prairie Corp., was installed as CEO. Blough was given the title of chief product officer and Wooden, one of the logistics I.T. sector’s most visible executives, became chief revenue officer, taking on a more customer-facing position.

Founded in 2000, MercuryGate has grown rapidly and has strong penetration with third-party logistics providers and big shippers it deals with directly. Much of its success has been attributed to Wooden, a forceful personality with strong sales acumen who was involved in virtually every deal, according to a person familiar with the company. “Sales was not the issue,” the person said, though noting that sometimes the company would oversell its capabilities and commitments.

MercuryGate would run into problems during post-sale implementation and support, according to the person. The process would be plagued by late deliveries, systems that didn’t align with customer specifications, and an inability of customers to make changes to the software without the need to first go through MercuryGate. Each time MercuryGate got involved, the customer received a bill, according to the person.

Perhaps its most high-profile customer dispute was with transport and logistics giant JB Hunt Transport Services, Inc. (NASDAQ:JBHT) In 2015, Hunt sued MercuryGate for $3.1 million over a failed two-year implementation process. MercuryGate countersued for $5 million. The dispute was eventually settled on terms favorable to Hunt, carrier executives told FreightWaves.

Another person close to MercuryGate said its growth trajectory fit the classic pattern of a fast-growing company that let process fall by the wayside as it expanded. In a town hall meeting with employees at the time of his hiring, Juliano said the company needed to embrace process and create what he called a “scalable” operation, according to a person with knowledge of the event. Asked what Juliano meant, the person said, “imagine buying a new car and then getting a new car each time you drive? It was like starting over with every client.”

In an e-mailed statement, MercuryGate spokesman Marc Denofio said Hendriks’ hiring will allow the company to “innovate and improve on our product offerings and scale our ability to grow rapidly.” Her experience in “large-scale software development is a part of our plan to grow and provide robust and solid product to our customers,” Denofio added.

Bringing on a seasoned executive from a pre-eminent technology firm like Oracle is a “grown up move” by MercuryGate’s ownership, and reflects the need to take infrastructure planning to the next level, one of the people said. As CTO, Hendriks will set strategy for how MercuryGate’s software will be delivered, a broad and powerful mandate for an I.T., firm of Mercury Gate’s size. “She will have a lot of juice there,“ the person said.

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Mark Solomon

Formerly the Executive Editor at DC Velocity, Mark Solomon joined FreightWaves as Managing Editor of Freight Markets. Solomon began his journalistic career in 1982 at Traffic World magazine, ran his own public relations firm (Media Based Solutions) from 1994 to 2008, and has been at DC Velocity since then. Over the course of his career, Solomon has covered nearly the whole gamut of the transportation and logistics industry, including trucking, railroads, maritime, 3PLs, and regulatory issues. Solomon witnessed and narrated the rise of Amazon and XPO Logistics and the shift of the U.S. Postal Service from a mail-focused service to parcel, as well as the exponential, e-commerce-driven growth of warehouse square footage and omnichannel fulfillment.