You should know the new CEO of this software company

September 29, 2020, 1:33 PM UTC

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Christa Quarles, the former CEO of OpenTable, has been named CEO of Corel, the Canadian software company whose best-known brand might be the long ago word-processing program WordPerfect.

It’s okay if you have only a foggy recollection of Corel. It’s a good example of how tough it is to kill a software company. Over the years it has gone public and private twice. It has done multiple acquisitions to try to bulk up. And now it is owned by private-equity shop KKR, which bought it last year from another PE firm, as PE firms are wont to do.

It isn’t okay if you don’t know Quarles. She ran OpenTable, which is part of She did a stint at NextDoor, had a run at Disney (which bought the gaming company where she was chief financial officer at the time), and back in the day she was a research analyst. Oh, and last year, when we still gathered in person for events, she was the non-editorial co-chair of Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, Colo.

Quarles, who is 46, says she sees an almost “patriotic” opportunity to sell to the types of small businesses and “pro-sumer” customers that are Corel’s base. “We did this at OpenTable too,” she says. The company owns a handful of products that compete comfortably against or adjacent to software giants. CorelDraw is a less-famous alternative to the Adobe Creative Suite. MindManager does data visualization and project management. Parallels is a program that lets Mac and Chromebook users run Windows if they must.

The new CEO has a mandate to make acquisitions. She says she’ll focus on ensuring the company’s offerings fit together as a platform and building on the desktop collaboration trend. KKR brought her in, and John Park, the lead investor on the deal, envisions Quarles overseeing “bigger and bolder deals.” Already, he says, the company has played runner-up on transactions that were many times its previous deal size.

On a personal note, I’m in the unusual position of writing about an executive I’ve been able to watch in action as a high-value member of a team I help lead. Quarles has one of the highest signal-to-noise ratios I’ve ever seen, equally passionate about her dog as she is about the latest buzz in business.

Good luck, Christa.

Adam Lashinsky


This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Aaron Pressman.


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Aaron Pressman


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