Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

Wanted Urgently: Currency Risk Manager

May 20, 2008

diane-greene.jpg VMware may be one of the most successful enterprise software companies of its generation with revenue continuing to grow at more than 50 percent even after it hit $1 billion, but they sure do seem to need a currency risk manager.

The company disclosed last month that its operating margins were hit by $10 million, or 2.25 percentage points, because of the weak dollar. That’s because, unlike many big technology companies which are benefiting from the impact of the declining American currency, VMware prices its products in U.S. dollars rather than the euro and other local currencies where it sells.

Not only that but it suffers a double whammy because it also has to pay operating expenses, such as staff costs, in local currencies.

It all adds up to a sizable problem for a company whose international revenues are growing at a 74 percent rate, and are close to overtaking U.S. revenues – the kind of problem that you think would be addressed promptly through a change in pricing policy and/or the adoption of a currency hedging strategy.

But asked at the Reuters Global Technology, Media and Telecoms Summit in New York why Europeans were paying in U.S. dollars rather than euros, and why a new strategy couldn’t be put in place quickly, VMware CEO Diane Greene was almost at a loss for words.

After an uncomfortable silence, she said that the company “did not move to native currency and we have been selling in U.S. dollars and we are certainly looking at how to address that.”

Pressed further, Greene said after another hesitation that the company “will get there,” but then stressed that she had to be careful about what she said and asked for questions to move onto another subject.

Wall Street take note: these folks may need some advice.

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