Arik Hesseldahl

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Nutanix Teams With RiceHadleyGates on Global Expansion Push

Nutanix, a fast-growing enterprise IT company that specializes in infrastructure for the data center, said today that it has started working with RiceHadleyGates, the consulting firm led by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The aim is to help the company grow its business in emerging markets in Asia, the Middle East and the Americas, and to help it navigate some of the foreign policy issues that can sometimes trip companies up.

Nutanix CEO Dheeraj Pandey (pictured above) told me that while Nutanix has already had a “tremendous start” in the U.S. and Canada, it’s now trying to grow business in markets where larger companies already have a big presence. The idea for collaborating with RHG happened at a Khosla Ventures event (the VC firm is an investor) where Rice spoke about nation-building. The idea came to him that it might be a good idea to “start acting bigger than we are” in going after those international markets. But he also wanted some expertise to help Nutanix navigate the complicated geopolitical and economic issues that tend to crop up with these companies.

That led to some conversations with Anja Manuel, a principal at RHG and a former State Department official herself. “We take on very few clients. Some of them are really big companies, but we’re increasingly starting to work with some of the fastest-growing companies in Silicon Valley because they’re innovative and changing the world. They often grow globally without meaning to do so,” she said. “And, while they don’t have the regulatory issues that we usually consult on yet, they are doing a lot of business overseas and they wanted to be strategic about how they grow that business.”

One big issue, Pandey said, is export controls. “We sell to a lot of large companies with significant international presence. We’re a very channel-based company. We sell through a lot of partners who are outside the company so we have to be careful about where and who we ship to. So we have to work with people who understand international business well.”

Nutanix is shipping to customers in 30 countries, and international sales grew 260 percent over the last year.

The company specializes in a combined server and storage system that eliminates the need for a storage array, the point being to run data-center applications more flexibly.

In addition to Khosla Ventures, its investors are Lightspeed Venture Partners, Goldman Sachs, Battery Ventures, Blumberg Capital and Goldman Sachs. It has raised about $71 million in three rounds. Its customers include PriceWaterhouseCoopers, McKesson and eBay.

In addition to Rice and Manuel, RHG’s other founding principals are former National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley and former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work