Picking Up the Baton
I’m incredibly excited and honored to take on the role of CEO of Cumulus Networks. In many ways, I’ve trained for this role my whole life. I grew up in Silicon Valley. I have had a front row seat to the growth of the tech economy and been fortunate to watch many passionate leaders grow companies from simple concepts to multi-million dollar firms. I couldn’t be more committed than I am today to bringing a lifetime of experience and learning to bear in leading Cumulus Networks to its next phase.
First and foremost, thank you, JR, for entrusting me with this enormous responsibility. JR and Nolan have both invested their hearts, souls and many years of their lives in Cumulus Networks. They have hired incredible people, built great products, signed impactful partnerships and — in a brief few years — have already had a profound impact on this industry. They have fundamentally changed how networking products are bought, sold, developed and deployed, and in the process spawned a legion of imitators. I’m honored to be entrusted with the job of moving this organization forward. JR and I bring incredibly complementary skills to the table; he is a technical visionary and product architect par excellence. I couldn’t think of a better partner than JR as I settle into this new role. I’m excited about strengthening the great working partnership we have already built over the last ten months.
I first met Cumulus Networks, and JR, nearly four years ago. The company had just finished Series A fundraising and had one beta customer and lots of unanswered questions. Despite this uncertainty, it was immediately obvious that this company was onto something big. The notion of disaggregating networks — enabling customers to build highly automated infrastructure and breaking up the legacy vendors’ monopolies — was revolutionary but yet so obvious. I knew I wanted to be a part of it.
Alas, they weren’t ready for me!
JR was convinced the product needed more time and needed the freedom to find its way into customers’ hands on its own, without too much ‘sales push.’ It was, I would come to learn, a very typical JR perspective: unconventional but incredibly insightful and customer-centric. He knew that enduring companies start with great products that delight customers. If Cumulus Networks could gain initial market entry through pure word-of-mouth, it was clear that it would become a valuable company.
Over the next three years, I watched the company from afar with admiration, and a little bit of envy. They raised money from the very best investors.They signed strategic partnerships with Dell, HP and VMware. And customers continued to show up in volume. By the time JR and I reconnected in the spring of 2015, Cumulus Networks was closing more than a deal a day, had signed hundreds of customers, had a production deployment in excess of 10,000 switches and had switches deployed at more than 20 of the largest companies in the world. Companies stopped buying mainframes once they realized the benefits of open compute systems. Similarly, Cumulus Networks gives firms the ability to opt out of expensive proprietary appliances in favor of open networks. After three and half years, I was delighted to finally join the company.
Looking forward, the company is incredibly well positioned for success. After years of hardcore product development and market education about the beauty of open networking, customers and partners are now showing up in droves and working with Cumulus Networks to build scalable infrastructure. We’re delighted to see many large competitors enter this market; it validates our original thesis and serves to underline the extraordinary lead we have built in product maturity, platform coverage, and ecosystem traction. As I look out to 2016 and beyond, I believe we will continue to redefine this industry. I’m incredibly excited to be a part of this transformation.
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