Protocol | Enterprise

New Relic's Bill Staples replaces founder as CEO

Staples will become only the second CEO of the application monitoring company founded in 2008, and Lew Cirne, the company's founder, will become executive chairman of the board.

​Bill Staples is taking over at New Relic.

Bill Staples is taking over at New Relic.

Image: New Relic/Getty Images

New Relic CEO Lew Cirne is stepping down from day-to-day leadership of the IT monitoring company he founded in 2008, and current Chief Product Officer Bill Staples will become the new CEO, the company plans to announce Thursday.

Cirne will become executive chairman of the board, and current board chair Hope Cochran will become vice chair and lead independent director effective July 1. Under Cirne, New Relic (an anagram of his name) helped introduce the concept of application monitoring to a generation of developers building web and mobile apps, but like many enterprise tech companies, has struggled to maintain that success as cloud computing has become more prominent.

Staples joined New Relic in February 2020 after helping Adobe transition into the cloud era, and spent 17 years at Microsoft working on Azure, Power Apps and the early days of Microsoft's once-unthinkable embrace of open-source software. At New Relic, he has been responsible for steering the company in a new direction around observability, an extension of application monitoring that is gaining traction among developers and operations engineers building atop cloud services.

"To help me build better software, you can't just do everything reactively anymore," Staples told Protocol earlier this year. "If you work reactively in today's cloud environment, you're firefighting constantly."

Cirne clashed with New Relic employees over the last 12 months, many of whom worked prior to the pandemic several blocks from the central scene of last summer's protests in downtown Portland. He attempted to shut down internal discussions of racial justice and the Black Lives Matter movement in June 2020 at a crucial time for the company, which did not grow at nearly the rate that other cloud and enterprise companies did during the pandemic-fueled rush to embrace cloud software.

"History has not been kind to technology companies who do not continue to grow. Technology companies either grow or they die. There is no middle option," Cirne wrote in an email to employees last June obtained by the Oregonian.

In 2021, New Relic introduced a new observability-oriented service called New Relic One and also announced plans to transition away from selling annual subscriptions to its software to a more cloud-like pay-as-you-go model.

"Our move to a consumption model puts our customers at the center of every function in the company. This transformation isn't easy and it won't be completed quickly because we are asking our customers, our employees and our shareholders to participate in a journey where the destination is clear, but the path to get there isn't," Cirne told investors in February.

Along with the management change, New Relic announced that fourth-quarter revenue came in at $173 million, up 8%. The company projected it would record just 4% growth in revenue for the fourth quarter when it announced third-quarter results in February.

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