Peter Godman and Bill Richter have known each other for 10 years, dating back to the time when the two tech executives worked together at Seattle-based Isilon Systems. That data storage company ended up selling to EMC for a whopping $2.25 billion in 2010, one of the biggest acquisitions in Seattle tech history.
Now, Godman and Richter are reuniting around another hot startup, one which they think holds as much, if not more, promise than Isilon. Today, Godman is handing the CEO reins of Qumulo — a 4-year-old cloud-based data storage upstart — to Richter.
“We decided that the right thing to do is to field the right players at the right time,” said Godman, who will shift to the CTO role at Qumulo. “This is a really exciting development that is going to take us through the next five or 10 years, or however long. It is just a great move forward for our team.”
For the past 10 months, Richter has served as a venture partner at Madrona Venture Group, one of Seattle’s leading venture capital firms and one of Qumulo’s earliest backers. But even before joining Madrona, Richter said that he’d established a “great working friendship” with Godman and Qumulo co-founder Neal Fachan.
Earlier this year, Richter said that the “planets lined up” around a more formal role at Qumulo.
“When the opportunity came along to join as CEO, for me it was just a no brainer,” said Richter, who will still retain his venture partner title at Madrona. “Qumulo has taken a problem that’s defined as an $8 billion market, and that market is just dominated by legacy vendors whose software code is 15, 20, almost 25 years old.”
Richter said that Qumulo was started in the cloud era, so it takes a fundamentally different approach to solving customers’ problems. Existing file storage players such as NetApp, IBM, Dell and HP loom as competition, certainly some formidable rivals. But the 42-year-old Richter, who previously served as president of the Isilon Storage Division of EMC, sees an opening.
“(Qumulo) has the advantage of taking a blank sheet of paper and saying: ‘for the modern era, for the cloud era, how would you go about solving this problem,'” said Richter, who helped grow Isilon’s revenue to $1.5 billion in 2014.
The appointment of Richter as CEO marks a significant milestone for Qumulo, which is embarking on an aggressive sales and marketing effort to get its product into the hands of even more customers. To date, about 100 companies are using Qumulo’s storage technology, including some of the largest entertainment, automotive and life sciences companies. Godman says the Qumulo technology is designed to help companies “organize billions of digital assets.”
Qumulo has raised $100 million in venture capital, including $32.5 million in June from Allen & Company, Top Tier Capital Partners, Tyche Partners, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Madrona, Highland Capital Partners, and Valhalla Partners.
It now employs about 140 people, and while Richter did not provide an estimate for employee growth in the coming year, he did say they plan to significantly grow the sales and marketing team “at a very rapid pace.”
“We think the market is ready for the product,” said Richter.
Qumulo’s sales and marketing process got a big jumpstart earlier this month when the company announced that Eric Scollard, who formerly worked in sales at ExtraHop and Isilon, joined as Qumulo’s vice president of worldwide sales.
Godman said he’s loved being CEO of Qumulo, but the time was right to bring on new talent with new skills for a new era.
“When I sat down and thought about it, the way I looked at it was: What is the team that we can field that maximizes our chance of the greatest success for our company possible,” said Godman, adding that while he’s loved being CEO of Qumulo for the past four years, he’s very much looking forward to being CTO for the next 20 years.