VMware Veteran Jerry Chen Is Greylock’s Newest Enterprise-Focused Partner

Published on June 25, 2013
by Arik Hesseldahl

jerry_chen_greylockVenture Capital firm Greylock Partners just announced that it has tapped Jerry Chen, a former vice president of product management and marketing, as its newest partner. The firm announced the move in a corporate blog post this morning.

Chen has been with VMware, the company best known for its virtualization technology that lies at the heart of so many data centers, since 2004 during the years it grew from 400 employees to 15,000, and reached $5 billion in revenue. He was also briefly a venture capitalist at Accel Partners.

Greylock’s David Sze called Chen “our kind of guy … We really believe in product-oriented partners who have real operating experience in the related domains we invest in, which in this case is the infrastructure and enterprise space. I don’t think I’ve seen a better background on paper.”

So, what is he going to focus on? There’s a pretty good opportunity, Chen says, to undo about 20 years worth of the IT industry’s traditional client-server architecture. “As a macro theme, that’s $150 billion worth of data center spending, and that means that pretty much every incumbent player is up for disruption,” Chen told me. “As more enterprises move their compute and storage and applications to the cloud, everything in the data center gets turned upside down.” He sums it up by calling it the “post-server era.”

For the last decade or so at VMware, Chen has been sitting in a place where it’s relatively easy to see where computing and storage trends are going. Since most pieces of the data center — compute, networking, storage — are shifting toward being defined in software, Chen sees another layer above that. “My latest work at VMware was around application infrastructure. After you disrupt all the plumbing in the infrastructure, you enable new ways for developers to build their applications. I think there’s a great opportunity there.”

The move fits well with Greylock, which has been investing quite a bit in the red-hot enterprise startup space in recent months and years, backing companies like Workday, ServiceNow, Cloudera, Palo Alto Networks and Imperva, to name only a few.

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