Nutanix CEO to Partners: ‘Be Patient’ as ‘We Transform Ourselves’
After helping to co-found Nutanix back in September 2009, CEO Dheeraj Pandey has been leading the company through product development, business growth and an IPO in 2015. In the last two years he has continued to lead the company’s transformation from a vendor that sold hardware which was pre-loaded with its hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) software into a company that had dropped its hardware sales and will now only sell its HCI software.
Now as the company is celebrating its 10th anniversary, Pandey sat down with Channel Futures last week at the company’s annual Nutanix .Next 2019 user and partner conference in Anaheim, California, where he talked about the channel, Nutanix’s March stock drop, his customers and the company’s future.
Channel Futures: Things have been busy at Nutanix in the last nine months. In March, Nutanix’s stock fell 31% after it issued lower-than-expected guidance for its third fiscal quarter sales. By April, the company had lost its chief revenue officer, Louis Attanasio, and then its global channel chief, Rodney Foreman, to resignations. All three events occurred within nine months after company president, Sudheesh Nair, left last August to join another company. How do you explain these things to the IT marketplace?
Dheeraj Pandey: Success is never a straight line and Wall Street is so elastic in the way it makes decisions. One day they’ll hate you and the other day they will love you. One day they will dump you and the other day they’ll actually go on a buying frenzy. They are memory-less. That’s good about Wall Street.
The deal is we have more money in the bank than we had a year ago. The company is successfully transitioning as a software company and every quarter we are growing and talking about subscriptions. These are two big transformations that we are doing in front of the public eye.
CF: Are your customers and partners worried about these things or asking you about them?
Pandey: To customers and the channel, I say, be patient and look at our Main Street behavior, which is quality of products, quality of customer support, quality of customer success. Look at those things and be with us as we transform ourselves, just like Microsoft did five, six or seven years ago. Adobe did, PTC did, Cadence did, Synopsys did, all of these companies that went through these tough transitions as a public company; that’s what we’re going through right now.
The ones that didn’t, like big business software companies that did not go after subscription business on-prem, they are the ones suffering right now. And we don’t want to actually go through that kind of an eventuality where we call ourselves a hybrid cloud company and yet we have nothing in terms of subscription on prem.
CF: Can you talk about what that transformation means?
Pandey: We’re going through a transformation, going from hardware to software and going from software to subscription, and finally going from $1 billion to $3 billion in revenue. A transformation means a lot of things. I think what you saw in the last six to nine months is about transforming ourselves into a company that is just as startup-like, just as customer-focused as before, but that is also planning focused.
CF: You said you are now looking at the channel in a new way — as a customer as well as a means to sell your products and services. Can you describe that?
Pandey: Looking at the channel and at our customers, that’s one thing that we missed for a long, long time. For that last 10 years we always looked at the channel as partners as opposed to as customers. There’s a big difference between the two. In one case you’re looking at the end-user customer and the channel partner is in your peripheral vision. In the other case you are looking at …