To many, December means the holiday season, snow, presents and excited kids who can’t wait to rip stuff open that you spent hours lovingly wrapping. To many though, December 2015 will be the year that Nutanix put up our Christmas tree in the form of an S1, announcing our intention to go public. The unwrapping of the presents will happen the day Dheeraj Pandey and team right the bell. But this does not signify the end of a race, but rather the beginning of a new one.
I live in Tampa, Florida. It’s a wonderful place to live and raise a family, but it is not the technology hotbed of the world for what I do in terms of being a headquarters for major technology companies. It does have a killer airport for getting from here to almost anywhere in the world with ease though, and that helps. But the reason that I mention this is because I want you to understand the challenge of getting to a Pre-IPO company when you live in a place like this, and why this moment in time is so special to me.
Having been in the IT industry for a long time I have seen a lot of changes. When I started, Sun Microsystems and SGI were powerhouses in the industry (I know…I just seriously dated myself) and Netscape was the browser of choice (though I was a Mosaic user) in the beginning. Microsoft was more of a desktop operating system and Linux didn’t exist. When I left the military I was able to get a contract job at the Special Operations Command. Once that job was done I transitioned into the corporate world and just sort of stayed in Tampa. I was able to work from home and travel as needed for the various companies that I represented. I had a lot of fun and did some great things with some amazing people. But something was lacking. While I worked for some tremendous companies they just were not Silicon Valley companies…they didn’t have that “culture of innovation” that I was seeking (which I am sure someone will take the wrong way, but please just work with me…I’m not bad-mouthing anyone or any product). Something was lacking. I wanted to make a difference…not just sell stuff. I wanted to help build something great as my “heroes of the industry” had been doing since before I got involved in it.
My first attempt came in 2007 when I was given the opportunity join Akorri Networks. It was my first run at a start-up, and with that came the risks associated with it. My stay was short…as it was for a bunch of others, but at least the management team was able to hold on and get acquired by NetApp. For me, the lesson was hard because my family took the brunt of not making it. But the lessons prepared me for the next one…seven years later. That would be Nutanix.
While I am still very excited about the culture of where I work, I don’t want this to be another of my postings on the culture. You can read those in any of the other postings I have done about the company with the various interviews that I have conducted with our senior leadership. But when you talk about why Nutanix is successful the culture is very much a part of the equation along with a tremendous product offering, dedicated employees and top management with a vision that extends well beyond just simple hyperconvergence. Our co-founder and CEO, Dheeray Pandey did an interview recently in which he outlined his goal of building a great company with the ability to execute with excellence like Amazon, but with the culture of Google. You can listen to that interview here. It is WELL worth your time to listen.
What the Nutanix IPO means for me is that my career dream, to join a pre-IPO company and help build it, has come full-circle. I have been able to come into a company and contribute even though only in a small set of ways given the fact that it is already making a significant dent in the market. While I have only been here for a short time, I find fulfillment in working along side truly great innovators, technology and business leaders. My only regret is that I did not get in sooner so I could have enjoyed the ride from the beginning. But now the question becomes “now what”…and this is where the fun begins all over again.
As Nutanix grows there are new opportunities to excel and contribute. Last month I transitioned roles within the company and today I am part of the OEM Alliances team that is responsible for working with our partners Dell and Lenovo, and probably a couple of others before it is all said and done. As I look at our job listings we are continuing to invest in key ares around the world as well as building the backend to support it. I’m watching my coworkers get recognized for their amazing work and promoted into new roles. Nutanix IPO is about growth. Personally and professionally, but not for the reasons you think. Going public is, to me, validation of what we have been building. We got there, as I have pointed out, through the forward-thinking management that has been relentless in their focus and pursuit of changing the way IT works. We got here through the innovation and amazing creativity of world-class developers and product managers. We got here through a sales team that didn’t just “sell stuff” like so many do. They sold a vision and a value that has proven itself in more than two-thousand customers across six continents. We got here through an amazing support organization truly meeting and exceeding customer expectations and providing unparalleled response to give us (as of 1/12/2016) a net promoter score of 93. We got here as a team, all working together to achieve a common goal.
And that brings me to my final point. Career growth is something everyone does, or should, worry about. You don’t want to become stale or obsolete. Working for companies that have been around for fifteen, twenty or thirty years is “safe” and very predictable. When you buckle in for the ride at a Pre-IPO company it’s anything but. High risk, high reward. Predictable…hardly. Exciting, absolutely, and a lot of fun. There are days when you wonder if you made the right choice leaving the “safe” world, and there are days you wonder why you ever went into the safe world at all. For me the IPO of Nutanix marks the beginning of another career because it is time to re-double on making sure my skills are where they need to be. It means re-doubling my efforts to ensure that as my industry evolves, so do I. It means opportunity to go as far and as fast as you want to as long as you can perform and make a difference.
When I joined Nutanix there was a great deal of excitement about the financial implications of being a part of this great team. Once I was here and got to know the Executive Management team my outlook changed. I no longer look at the IPO as a way to secure the future of my family, but rather the continuation…the 2.0, if you will, of my career and the real possibility of contributing to a revolutionary change in IT. This is an amazing team of people who truly believe just that. The IPO is more than just stock options. The IPO is the continuation of a dream of helping to build a great company to change the way IT has been done for decades. It is an honor an a privilege to be a part of the ride, and I look forward to what the future holds for Nutanix. This is only the beginning of the race. The end…I don’t think we’ll see that for a LONG time.