Friday, October 7, 2016

9-year Anniversary of Mozy Acquisition

I love October for several different reasons, namely . . .
  • It is my birth month
  • I love the changing of the seasons, including the cooler temperatures and Fall colors in the mountains
  • It is the anniversary of EMC's acquisition of Mozy
Dave Robinson
It was 2007 and we had a deal on the table to raise a serious round of financing from a top-shelf VC firm on Sand Hill Road. I was excited about the prospect of growing the business and my own personal share in it. We had already turned down several potential acquisition offers and had all but signed the term sheet from our almost-investors. Then the offer arrived from EMC and our plans changed. And I'm so glad they did!

I'm proud of the Mozy business and the team that built it. More than a handful of them are still Dell EMC, Virtustream and VMware today and this is a shout out to them. You know who you are. I caught up with Dave Robinson, the most tenured Mozy person who is still in the family, and here's what he had to say . . .
iJustine & "the shirt"
Q: What is your favorite promotional marketing item? 
A: My favorite Mozy item would have to be the "Back the F:\ Up" shirts. This was an idea that we had been kicking around the office in the early days, but were too chicken to actually pull the trigger on it. One day we just decided "what the heck" and it became a huge hit. I'd guess we've given out over 20,000 of those over the years. Admittedly, it's something I don’t wear around the house and my kids, but people love it. I remember doing press and analyst interviews a few years back and that’s all they wanted to talk about." 

Q: What is your fondest memory of the Mozy culture pre-acquisition?
A: I have many fond memories from the early days. There were only a few of us, so everyone was really close and we all wore many hats. I still remember my first day on the job when I was directed to an empty desk. I asked where my computer was and Jared Wilks (finance/operations) told me to go find something at Best Buy and he'd reimburse me. I was hired as the marketing guy, but was also the first sales and product leader until we could hire someone full time. In the early days we used to take every new hire to China Isle in American Fork. As we got bigger, it became harder to do that and my arteries are probably the biggest beneficiary of that! I also remember the first meeting with GE out in Fairfield Connecticut. Josh Coates (Mozy founder) absolutely hated flying and was pale and uneasy the entire flight. I recall him having his head down on the tray table for most of the flight. 
Q: What was the most pivotal moment for the business in the last 9 years? 
A: There were a few "trajectory altering" moments in Mozy history, but the Walt Mossberg write-up on Mozy and Carbonite in the Wall Street Journal was one of the biggest. We were all sitting around the office at like 11pm waiting for the article to appear. Someone yelled "It's up!" and there was complete silence for about 2 minutes as we all read it. Suddenly the office erupted in simultaneous cheering as we all reached the end of the article where Mossberg wrote the infamous line... "I prefer Mozy." Still get goose bumps thinking about that night. 
Q: What are you personally most proud of in terms of your many contributions to Mozy? 
A: First and foremost, I'm most proud of the people I hired and worked with at Mozy. Josh's mantra was to only hire the best and brightest or "A players," no longer how long it took to find them. If you look at the Mozy marketing family tree, this was certainly the case. While it is always difficult to part with great coworkers and friends over the years, I could not be prouder of all the people who worked for me and are now off doing awesome things at other companies! In addition to the people, growing the company from essentially $0 in revenue to where we are today has been extremely rewarding. I still remember those early board meetings where the revenue line was below the cost line and there was intense pressure to get to profitability because we didn’t want to raise any more money. We did it!
I'm also grateful for the EMC team that gave us the opportunity to continue to grow the business, just in a very different way than what we would have done with a round of venture capital. I could never have dreamed up the amazing things that happened along the way. Here are just a few keywords and pictures to highlight the journey that will only be meaningful to those who were close to Mozy during different parts of the journey.
Not a failed product, just a little fun dating back to 2007
  • BDS
  • DRS
  • Happy Fun Ball
  • TDN & TDS
  • CMRR
  • US Airways 1549
  • iJustine
  • Skeletor
  • Demeter
  • Hellcat
  • Fortress
  • Pi Corp
  • Decho
  • VMware
  • Rubicon

Okay, here's the failed product . . . A retail box
People cheering for Mozy . . . or RSL's Kyle Beckerman

Dave Robinson at the 2010 launch for Mozy in France 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Emerald Economy

I recently returned from a trip to the Emerald Isle. It was a wonderful experience. I’ve been there quite a few times, but I had several new experience and resulting perspectives that I’m going to share. Part of the difference for me surely has to do with this blog about the Silicon Slopes. I will draw a few comparisons between our "Slopes" and what I’ll call the Emerald Economy.
  1. Chambers of Commerce – I was privileged to attend an annual member meeting and business luncheon with the American Chamber of Commerce. My friend and colleague Bob Savage is the current president and invited me along with several other visiting guests. Ireland’s Prime Minister (An Taoiseach) was in attendance along with the US Ambassador to Ireland. It was an impressive meeting with very direct and engaging commentary by the leadership. Utah has several local chambers of commerce, including the impressive Salt Lake Chamber. We also have a WorldTrade Center organization for Utah, but there’s no singular focus like Ireland’s American Chamber of Commerce.
  2. Incentives – Part of the reason for EMC being in Utah is the incentives package we received from local government. Part of the reason for EMC being in Ireland is the incentives package there, not to mention low corporate tax rates. It was interesting to be in Ireland soon after the news had broken about the EU’s attempt to claim billions of dollars in unpaid taxes from Apple.  Everyone in Ireland called the EU decision “unfortunate” and said that Ireland had no intention of trying to collect that money.
  3. Customs & border protection – There’s no other country in Europe with a US Customs pre-clearance facility like what exists in the Dublin & Shannon airports. Once you’ve gone through it you’re virtually on US soil. Subsequent flight connections are similar to a domestic transfer. It was convenient and efficient. The use of technology combined with the movement of people and goods was a model I wish we had in other locations. Utah is obviously easy to enter and leave and the SLC airport has many international flights, largely thanks to its status as a Delta hub. That said, you can’t clear customs for any other country there.
  4. Languages – For the most part I understood everyone I came across. There were only a few exceptions in both Scotland and Ireland. Some of the accents were pretty thick J What was more notable were the many other languages I heard spoken. One of my colleagues used to live in Utah and was friends with my son during high school. He now lives in Dublin where he works for Dell EMC. He’s a great example of the type of multi-lingual, multi-cultural people who are attracted to Irish life. His parents are from different countries and he’s lived in several places, as a result he speaks Spanish, Italian, French and, of course, English. He loves working for a company like ours and he loves living in Ireland where he has such easy and affordable access to all of Europe. Utah boasts a lot of cultures and languages, but its diversity isn’t quite on the same scale.

A last and playful comparison between the Silicon Slopes and the Emerald Isle would be Ireland's lack of snakes and Utah's ample supply. I can't compare the skiing in Utah to Ireland's for obvious reasons :) 

On a more serious and final note, both EMC and Dell along with several of our strategically-aligned businesses have substantial operations in Ireland. There was some buzz around Dell’s decision to move manufacturing operations from Limerick to Eastern Europe several years ago, but the Ireland payroll for our combined companies is more now than it ever was before. I can only imagine that our investments will continue. Perhaps even more notably, the investment of other American companies will continue to grow in Ireland. The Emerald Economy is certainly an impressive one.

American logos on display at the AmCham luncheon
Me with friend & colleague Gillian
Friend & colleague Bob kicking off the luncheon
Ireland's Prime Minister - Enda Kenny
US Ambassador to Ireland - Kevin O'Malley
Me & Black Rock Castle
Not a postcard - This is Kinsale :)