Sage Group Elevates CFO Steve Hare to CEO

The U.K. software firm had launched an external search for a new CEO but was impressed with Hare's performance as interim COO.
Matthew HellerNovember 6, 2018

After two months as interim head of The Sage Group, CFO Steve Hare has been named permanent chief executive of the U.K. accounting software giant, replacing Stephen Kelly.

Sage had initiated an external search for a new CEO after Kelly was ousted in August. But on Friday, it announced the appointment of Hare, who had been serving as interim chief operating officer.

Hare “has impressed the Board with the momentum, focus, and clarity he has brought to the organization over the last few months as COO but also throughout his tenure as CFO,” Sage Chairman Donald Bryson said in a news release.

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“As we looked externally for the experience, vision, and deep knowledge required to accelerate operational execution, it very quickly became clear through Steve’s early decisions and his clear prioritization that he is the right person to lead Sage,” he added.

Hare joined Sage in January 2014 after serving as operating partner at private equity firm Apax Partners. He previously served as CFO of several U.K. public companies, including Invensys, Spectris, and Marconi.

Diginomica had predicted Sage would not elevate “a finance guy into the CEO slot,” recommending it “attempt to bring over a U.S. person with deep experience in SaaS solutions” as it seeks to shift from its legacy on-premise software business model to cloud offerings.

“[Hare] is, however, a safe pair of hands who can bring stability at a time when the company has undergone a degree of upheaval,” Diginomica said.

As reports, Sage has struggled to execute its cloud strategy and its mid-market products have “come under immense pressure from its larger competitors such as Microsoft and its younger rivals like Xero.”

Kelly’s resignation came shortly after Sage revealed that hitting full-year guidance was dependent on signing a number of deals in September.

Hare will combine the roles of CEO and CFO until a replacement finance chief is hired. “I continue to believe that by putting our customers, our people, and innovation at the heart of everything we do, we will succeed in our journey to becoming a great SaaS business,” he said.