Thursday, September 29, 2016

Riding with Nutanix from Day Zero

What I learned from angel investing

I am the luckiest guy in the world. I met Dheeraj (CEO) during my years at Oracle more than 10 years ago, and Bipul (Board Member) during my years at IIT more than 20 years ago. When Bipul reached out and told me that Dheeraj was building a company, I had never invested in a startup but I knew one thing: always be closest to the smartest people you know.
Nutanix is Web Scale Computing (XKCD explains it best)
Despite my role leading platform at Salesforce, I knew very little about storage infrastructure so I should have walked away because you should only invest in what you know, says Warren Buffett and every other investment guru I listen to.
But, I wasn’t trying to invest.
I was trying to learn how startups get made.
I had recently become an executive for the first time in my career and I was learning from the very best leaders like Marc Benioff, Parker Harris and Steve Fisher. I was building new products that were on the path to billion dollar businesses.
Yet, something was missing. I wanted to not just build products but also learn how to build a company from scratch.
And I thought if I write a check, I would get to see how the sausage is made. And its been an amazing experience.
Table is set for the IPO

Things I learned

  • Mission Matters: Dheeraj had a clear mission to turn our data centers into invisible infrastructure just like iPhone made cameras, phones, keyboards all disappear into one converged reality.
  • Team, team, team: Dheeraj and his co-founders picked and hired some of the smartest people at companies like Google and Oracle combining deep consumer and enterprise expertise.
  • Big on vision, pragmatic on GTM: By focusing early on VDI as a high pain point, Nutanix was able to ramp up revenue early.
  • Prioritize Long Term, Execute Short Term: Every time I talked to Dheeraj, he always talked about the long term — how the industry was evolving, where the market was headed, how VDI was only step 1, hyperconvergence is only step 2, and where it is all going.
Your People are Your True Legacy
Finally, we are all busy building our companies and yet we are all part of one interconnected whole in silicon valley, and globally.
People you start working with go on to build their own great companies (hat tip Cohesity, ThoughtSpot) — just as Larry Ellison has a string of next generation companies like NetSuite and Salesforce, and Marc Benioff has helped create many in turn.
If Nutanix is to be a true silicon valley success, the people that grow with you and the people that leave must in term build their own successes.
I am excited to see what happens when Nutanix starts trading but am even more excited to imagine how the team will change the world in next 10 years.

No comments: