What Does It Mean When A Startup Changes CEOs?

In almost every instance the first CEO of a storage startup is the guy with the brilliant idea. When a start up changes CEOs it generally means one of two things; either the company is in trouble or things are going so well that the founder is smart enough to know when the company has scaled beyond them. In our opinion Cleversafe’s recent change at the top, where John Morris has taken the reigns from Chris Gladwin as President and CEO, is the later situation not the former.

With all the recent CEO upheavals it makes sense for an assessment of this recent change and how the overall object storage market is developing. The first step is to understand what type of move this was. The telltale signs that things are going badly for a startup is that there is more than just a CEO change, there’s often a wholesale changeout at the executive level. That is clearly not the case at Cleversafe since it appears that most of the management team will remain in place.

A second sign that things aren’t going well is a general statement about how good the technology is but that the “focus” or go-to-market strategy needs to be changed. Essentially, the company needs to “reboot”. Since we deal with a lot of start ups and have long memories (and good notes) we can pick this out pretty easily. We’ve seen NAS companies become backup appliance companies, disk storage array companies become flash-only array companies and object storage companies become NAS companies.

In the case of Cleversafe, we are not picking up any hint of a change in direction. This, of course, means that they are as confident in the technology as ever and are staying focused on their core markets where highly scaleable object storage makes sense. As we discussed in our recent article, Cleversafe is more than simple object storage, it brings whole new set of capabilities around reliability, resiliency and data location.

Startup reboots are not always bad by the way, some companies with a new CEO and a new focus end up reinventing themselves and being a success in the market. But the already difficult journey of a startup is made more difficult each time a reboot is undertaken.

It’s rare when a company can stay laser focused on a market and follow that laser all the way to a successful exit, such going public or getting acquired for a decent earnings multiple. The Cleversafe CEO change seems more about that, creating a “built to last” type of company that both customers and investors can count on.

Because of this Cleversafe news and because Storage Switzerland is preparing for the “Next Generation Object Storage Summit” we will provide our State of Object Storage Analysis in an upcoming entry.

Cleversafe is a client of Storage Switzerland

Twelve years ago George Crump founded Storage Switzerland with one simple goal; to educate IT professionals about all aspects of data center storage. He is the primary contributor to Storage Switzerland and is a heavily sought after public speaker. With over 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS and SAN, Virtualization, Cloud and Enterprise Flash. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland he was CTO at one of the nation's largest storage integrators where he was in charge of technology testing, integration and product selection.

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