Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Former Data Domain CEO Frank Slootman Gets His Old Band Back Together

When we last saw Frank Slootman, the former CEO of the enterprise storage concern Data Domain, he had just joined Greylock Ventures as a general partner. That was in January.

Fast forward to October, and Slootman is not only CEO of a new company, ServiceNow, but is getting his old band from Data Domain — which he sold to EMC in 2009 after a takeover battle with NetApp — back together.

So what is ServiceNow? It was started in 2003 by Fred Luddy, the former CTO of help-desk management outfits Peregrine Systems and Remedy, one of which is now part of Hewlett-Packard, the other part of BMC. The ServiceNow idea is basically to compete with HP and BMC by replacing those old on-premise help desk management applications with a cloud-based software-as-a-service offering.

ServiceNow has grown like crazy, doubling its sales every year for eight years in a row — it now has 500 employees and boasts $130 million in recurring revenue. Slootman joined as CEO in April. And now he’s hired a bunch of his old buddies from Data Domain to join him.

Having earlier in the week tapped Arne Josefsberg — a 25-year Microsoft veteran who was most recently general manager of the Windows Azure service — as its chief technology officer, ServiceNow has just hired a batch of Data Domain guys away from EMC:

  • Michael Scarpelli, the former CFO of Data Domain will now be ServiceNow’s CFO.
  • Dan McGee, the onetime senior vice president of engineering, will be — you guessed it — senior vice president of engineering.
  • David Schneider will be senior vice president of worldwide sales and service, taking the same title he held at Data Domain.

Though people know Slootman primarily for his work in the storage business at Data Domain — which he ultimately sold to EMC for $2.1 billion — he calls his journey into that line of business a “diversion.” Before Data Domain, he was a senior executive at Borland Software. “Before I was a storage guy, I was an applications guy. I worked in the software layer, so this is right in my wheelhouse,” he told me. “People say the cloud is hot, but what’s even hotter is cloud management, because people need software to manage it, and we’re right smack in the middle of that set of issues.”

So what’s the plan for ServiceNow? To kick things up a notch, naturally. “We’re getting the company IPO-ready,” Slootman says. And while it hasn’t hired any bankers yet, it’s not for nothing that Slootman just brought in a team of trusted execs who were along for the ride with Data Domain’s 2007 IPO and subsequent acquisition.

If and when it happens, a ServiceNow IPO will be rather different from so many others in recent history. ServiceNow is already cash-flow positive: It has $70 million in cash on the balance sheet, Slootman says, and started with practically no venture capital. It took a small $2.5 million round from JMI Equity in 2005; in 2009, Sequoia Capital invested by buying out some employees’ shares, and Sequoia’s Doug Leone joined the board of directors.

So what happened at Greylock? “I found out that I don’t have the temperament or disposition or DNA set to be a venture capitalist,” Slootman told me. “A lot of people told me I wouldn’t last, and they knew me better than I knew myself. If you’re going to fail at something, it’s best to fail fast and move on to the next thing.”

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