Today, or maybe yesterday depending on when I can be bothered to spellcheck and publish this, we, Nutanix, became a public company. As my favourite basketball announcer Chick Hearn would say…
“The Jello is Jigglin!”
It was a great day for everyone in the Nutanix Nation. My fellow employees, our current and future customers, channel and partners – oh and of course our new extended family of shareholders.
It’s safe to say I did no work at all today – I’m on holiday before you think ill of me – and the buzz on Twitter and Slack has been something else. But while we have very much lived in the moment today it’s made me think of how I came here and that’s what I’d like to tell you both today.
My background was 100% desktop and app virtualisation at Citrix. I joined as a 22 year old when Metaframe 1.8 was launched and left a few weeks after my 36th birthday. I could have stayed there forever. The technology was and still is the market leader, I knew the place like the back of my hand and I worked with an amazing bunch of people.
And yet I did leave. To the shock of many and the confusion of most.
Now, I’d like to tell you that this was a calculated decision born of months of dedicated research and market awareness but that would be wide of the mark. It was chance or as our President Sudheesh says it was Nutanix’s “invisible hand.”
If I think back to how I landed my job at Citrix way back in 2001 it was again out of pure luck. I was looking for a job after a pretty awful time at Speedo (make up your own jokes) and typed in “giz a job” into some search engine. “Giz a job” being slang for the desperate cry for a job from the weak and weary. IT Support 100 miles away from where I lived came up as the first hit and a month later I was driving down the M1 when I was told the good news by the recruiter. I shouted so loudly and proudly I think I scared the other drivers. It then started lightly snowing as the traffic slowed to a halt. The invisible hand at work. I’m not talking about anything religious or fate as don’t believe in either but it makes for a nice story huh?
Anyway, back on track and let’s move to 2014 when the hand would again give me a gentle slap into a new direction.
In 2014 a lot of changes were happening. My daughter popped out in February 3 weeks early (ask me about the water breaking over my Impreza seats and you’ll see a broken man) so stability was absolutely what I needed. After a month off work looking after my partner, daughter and Labrador (and scrubbing the alacantara seats daily) I got an email from a Citrix partner called MTech inviting me to dinner in London for a steak and wine. Never one to refuse anything their MD Martin offers I immediately said yes…and then noticed someone from a company called Nutanix also on the invitation. This was Alan Campbell, employee number 1 outside of the US for Nutanix. The email went something like “Hi Alan, I don’t know anything about you or Nutanix so please put me in touch with an SE so I can fake a conversation with customers in case your name pops up.”
A week later I was sat on a Webex with SE number 2 in the UK, Matt Northam. Matt took me through the proposition and technology and I was blown away. How can something this simple and obvious not already be ‘the way it’s done?’ Only once before did I have a light bulb over my head and that was researching ICA for my Citrix interview. When I saw what Nutanix could do then I knew it would be perfect for all my existing customers. Scale, simplicity and performance. Everything a growing XenDesktop deployment needed.
“Matt that was incredible thank you….” and then I said goodbye and jokingly “I’ll have to keep an eye on your careers page!”
Fast forward a couple of weeks and I met Rob Tribe at a Citrix usergroup. Nutanix needed someone from the Citrix community and asked if I knew anyone who would be interested. I looked behind me at my peers, friends and mentors and thought “screw it, yes, I’m interested. I’m very interested.”
After a phone interview out the back of a Subaru garage, a face to face at a service stop next to a motorway and one with the sales director and SE director I was offered the job. To this day I’m not sure why as I’m still sure I messed up that face to face meeting but something must have stuck.
One thing that I did take into all those interviews was one truth and it’s one I need to feel from people who join us today.
“Nutanix, I believe in what you believe.”
Infrastructure, applications, disaster recovery, change weekends, expansion, performance, setup, monitoring, none of these things should be complicated. Take away the friction, add delight to the simple things and the idea will grow and bloom.
6 weeks after the Webex with Matt I drove away from Citrix for the last time. I walked around site to say goodbyes to those that mattered most, got in my car and exited Chalfont Park for good.
A week later I parked outside a rented office and walked into a small room in Bracknall furnished with two IKEA desks as employee 10 in Western Europe, SE 3. Quite a shock going from a 10,000 employee organisation and working in a listed stately home but I knew we had the right idea and that we would make it a success. The great thing was that all around the world there were other small pockets of Nutants who believed in the same vision and no matter how few people we had in each region and country, together we were immensely strong and focused.
And so two and a bit years later I work in an office with nearly 100 people, in a organisation with 2,500 employees, with thousands of new customers every year and a future that I believe is even brighter that I knew it could be in 2014.
Now some will say it’s luck, other because we are just plain good but to quote the late great Chick Hearn one final time…
“I’d rather be lucky than good and if you’re both look out!”
Look out, indeed.