Meet Jeff Cotten, the New President of Rackspace

Jeff Cotten

A wise person once observed that luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. By that standard, we at Rackspace are lucky to have among our leaders Jeff Cotten, whom we’ve just promoted to be president of the company, effective Feb. 1.

Jeff is uniquely well prepared for this job, after eight years of success as a leader in key parts of our business. He joined Rackspace from EDS, starting as a front line customer-support leader, learning the things customers value about our Fanatical Support — and the things that can frustrate them. He built and led big parts of our enterprise support and sales organizations. He then directed our $550 million international operations from our offices in London and Zurich.

(As an aside, I should note that Jeff, a Dallas native, is the only leader we’ve ever sent to work in Europe who came back with more of a Texas accent than he had when he left here. When you have a chance to meet him, ask Jeff to say, “Hadoop.”)

Since returning to San Antonio last year, Jeff has led our fast-growing new business that delivers expertise and Fanatical Support for customers who want to use the cloud infrastructure of Amazon Web Services. Jeff and his team have rapidly made Rackspace one of the top managed service providers for AWS, with hundreds of engineers certified as experts on that popular platform.

In his new role, Jeff will leverage every element of his experience. He will lead our global sales operations, our international business unit and our fastest growing new lines of business. These include Fanatical Support for AWS, Rackspace Managed Security, and support for customers who run complex ecommerce and content-management solutions.

Alex Pinchev, the current leader of our global sales and marketing teams, will be retiring from Rackspace at the end of January. He will help Jeff transition into his new role. We are grateful to Alex for coming out of retirement last year to help us raise our game. As we moved from a public company to a private one, we knew we had to execute on some important strategic shifts, and we needed a strong, experienced leader to help launch us on the path. Alex has helped lead us successfully through that transition, and he thinks this is a good time for him to return to retirement. We thank him for his many contributions to Rackspace.

Jeff takes charge of a sales organization that now is landing a record number of complex, multi-cloud customers who pay us six- and seven-figure sums each month. Last year, our deals worth $100,000 or more per month grew by a whopping 32 percent — and we have plenty more in our pipeline. We now serve more than half of the global enterprises in the Fortune 100. Our customers include Digitas, DirecTV, the pizza company Domino’s, Razorfish, Sony and TDBank.

One of Jeff’s top priorities will be to accelerate the work Alex recently started, to build more specialization and focus into our sales force. We’re rapidly training our sales and technical Rackers so they can go deeper in their expertise on specific products, and work more effectively as teams of experts to serve the multi-cloud needs we’re seeing among prospects and longtime customers alike.

Jeff will work closely with Carla Sublett, our chief marketing officer, to align our worldwide marketing and sales efforts. As CMO, Carla will now report directly to me and will serve as a member of our senior leadership team. This move is in recognition of her performance and leadership over the past year, which has been noted not only inside Rackspace but also by Inc. magazine, which last week featured her in its list of “17 Inspiring Women to Watch in 2017.”

Replacing Jeff as general manager of our Fanatical Support for AWS business is his deputy, Prashanth Chandrasekar, an accomplished veteran Racker who was a pioneer in our development of devops services, and a founder of our AWS business unit. Prashanth has been instrumental in the stunning success of this new business, and has helped us win many of the marquee customers who trust Rackspace to help them get the best performance and cost-efficiency on AWS infrastructure.

So that’s the news. Now let me tell you what is not changing. Our strategy remains the same: to help businesses navigate the complexity of the multi-cloud world, and to tap the power of public and private clouds without the pain and expense of trying to manage it all themselves. If that value proposition appeals to you, please give us a call. I think you’ll find that not only Jeff and Prashanth but also seasoned experts all across Rackspace are uniquely prepared to help your business take advantage of its opportunities.

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Taylor Rhodes is president and CEO of Rackspace, responsible for all of the company’s operations in the U.S. and abroad. He has excelled in a variety of leadership roles in sales, support, and international operations, and is known for achieving high levels of engagement with customers and Rackers alike.

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