A fellow CEO friend and mentor asks me the same question each time we meet: “Bill, where are you spending your time?”
Like most simple (and insightful) questions, it is exceedingly difficult to answer. My response in the early days generally had something to do with my weekly calendar of 1:1s, QBRs, customer visits, board schedules, and annual planning cycles. My goal was to impress him with how busy I was!
Over the years, though, I’ve come to learn that the most important things I can spend my time on are all future-facing. For example, creating the right long-term vision for the business, understanding the current and future dynamics of our market, and building a team that’s passionate, customer-obsessed and fully aligned against a shared purpose. One thing that future-facing work doesn’t allow much time for is reflecting on past or present achievements.
Over the holiday break, I had some time to think about my three years as CEO of Qumulo and what our team has achieved during that time. As the list grew and grew, I realized how important it was that I share it with our team members, our partners, our supporters and, most importantly, our customers.
In the fall of 2016, I joined Qumulo because I love data and what it has the potential to do for humankind. I also knew that the greater the constraints on data were in the form of cost, complexity, management, accessibility and insights, the greater the limitations on innovation and progress would be. Qumulo was well down the path of solving for these constraints and had already assembled a small, highly capable and focused team.
Just a few years after coming out of stealth mode, the company already counted some of the best brands on Earth as customers. These customers trusted us with one of their most important assets, their data, because they too wanted the world to change faster and knew Qumulo had the potential to help. As I looked around the market I saw a group of bloated, slow moving, legacy companies, complacent with the wide moats of incumbency, and content with monetizing decades-old technology. And then I saw Qumulo – a company with a big mission that mattered, an impressive and innovative solution, an inspiring group of people, and a large market desperate for disruption. THAT was a combination I couldn’t say “no” to!
Since then, three years have passed and I could not be more proud of our team and the results we’ve delivered.
We have grown Qumulo’s sales by about 400% over the last three years. Our customers now manage more than 50,000,000,000 files on our software and cloud services. At increasing rates, customers bet their most mission-critical applications and data – really, their businesses – on us. We’re directly involved in everything from Hollywood blockbusters, to teaching cars how to safely drive themselves, to putting rockets into space.
We survey our customers quarterly and are humbled by the 80%+ Net Promoter Scores we receive. Customers happily take reference calls to help us expand. They share their delight on public Slack channels, Reddits, and other “word of mouth” forums. Most importantly, they express their confidence in the most important way possible – as they order, reorder, and expand with us. We are always grateful for our customers and will NEVER take them for granted!
Industry analysts and other market influencers – those tasked with identifying the most valuable technologies to build the future – have been kind as well. In 2016, we were first mentioned as a Vendor to Watch in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant report on Distributed File Systems and Object Storage. In 2017, we achieved a significant “promotion” and were recognized as a “Visionary” in the report. And then, in both 2018 and 2019, we were recognized as a “Leader,” a designation reserved for those few companies with the most innovative technology AND the capability to execute effectively as a business.
Throughout 2019, Qumulo has increasingly become a mainstream choice for customers who depend on enterprise-class, modern file services for their mission critical applications both in the data center and in the cloud. We have earned a wide variety of industry kudos for our leadership in artificial intelligence and machine learning, cloud file systems, hybrid cloud, and customer delight.
These, and other recognitions, are an incredible honor for us and a motivator for our team as we continue to disrupt an industry of legacy providers that have failed to innovate in either product or customer experience.
Recognizing that customers accelerate their businesses by investing in solutions, rather than in products, we knew that partnering would be key to success in the enterprise. As such, we’ve built a robust network of value added resellers, distributors, integrators, and technology alliance partners that is capable of providing the comprehensive answer to customer needs, rather than just the “piece parts.”
For example, we proved the software-defined model speeds time to market, putting innovation into customer’s hands faster. By building a partnership with HPE that marries our software with their hardware and service for a complete HPE experience, together we deliver a solution that is both modern and trusted by the most well-known brands in the world.
In addition, instead of trying to convince customers to look away from the tremendous innovation taking place in the public cloud, we have worked to innovate aggressively to allow customers to adopt clouds faster. Customers can now run their mission-critical file storage and data analytics applications on Qumulo’s cloud service on both AWS and GCP.
Lastly, and most rewarding for me, is how our team has grown and flourished. Over the last three years, we have more than doubled the size of our team. We expanded internationally from two countries to nearly a dozen.We’re a culture-driven company at Qumulo and it’s gratifying to see the team grow so rapidly while still maintaining the same customer-driven pillars that enabled our success in the early days of the company.
As we wrap up one decade and begin another, I’d like to acknowledge our employees for their hard work, and to thank our customers and partners for their trust in Qumulo. Many people – both inside and outside the company – have seen us through various stages of growth, and I am very grateful for their continued support and encouragement.
I want to conclude by sharing with you my belief that Qumulo is extremely well-positioned for the future. Our product innovation is strong, our team is hungry to drive change, and most importantly, customers are realizing the value we provide and are leaning in. At a rapidly accelerating pace, Qumulo is being recognized as the company that can help enterprises leverage data to accomplish some of their most important business objectives.
We have big goals at Qumulo. In fact, we’re really just getting started. Working alongside our customers, partners, employees, and investors, I could not be more excited about what we’ve achieved and what lies ahead. Thank you for joining us on this journey and here’s to 2020 and beyond!
Bill Richter is President & CEO of Qumulo, where he brings over 20 years of leadership experience to his role. Prior to Qumulo, Bill was a Venture Partner at Madrona, where he invested in and advised emerging businesses across multiple categories. Before joining Madrona, Bill was President of the Isilon Storage Division of EMC, where he grew the business to $1.5 billion in annual revenue in 2014. After Isilon, Bill served as COO of EMC’s $4 billion Midrange Storage business. Bill holds a BA in Business Administration from the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington.