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Cohesity hires VMware veteran Sanjay Poonen as CEO

Sanjay Poonen, Former COO, VMware

Scott Mlyn | CNBC

Cohesity, a startup selling software to back up corporate data, announced on Tuesday that it has hired former VMware chief operating officer Sanjay Poonen to be its next CEO, as the company challenges incumbents like Dell and stands points to a possible IPO.

Poonen told CNBC he received a call from Cohesity founder Mohit Aron, telling him he planned to step down as CEO after leading the company for nine years, but wanted to stay on for a while. working on technology and engineering. Poonen had been largely on the sidelines since leaving VMware in 2021 after an eight-year run.

He joins Cohesity at a time when the demand for modern backup systems is exploding as enterprises face an exponential increase in the size and complexity of their data. It’s also a tough time, with the economy nearing a potential recession and many businesses cutting back on spending. Cohesity, which was valued at $2.5 billion in a 2020 funding round, filed for a confidential IPO late last year as the tech market slumped. full crisis.

The mood has changed drastically in 2022, and the market selloff has resulted in much lower multiples for software makers, both private and public.

“As the new CEO, you don’t want to be in a frothy situation,” Poonen said. “Now is the perfect time to join us, because there are only benefits in the future.”

He said there was no specific timeline for a stock sale for the company, which has more than 2,100 employees.

“Nobody knows the time,” he said. “We are watching this carefully. Everyone is in the same boat, assessing when is the right time.”

In the Cohesity market, Dell, IBM and Veritas are the main incumbents. But there is also a set of emerging companies designed for the cloud age. In addition to Cohesity, this group includes Druva and Rubrik.

Poonen said he wants to see cloud partners like Amazon Web Services ask their vendors to introduce Cohesity to more organizations. If customers want to back up data from Microsoft, SAP or Salesforce software to clouds other than Amazon, they can do so with Cohesity, Poonen said.

“The profile of this company hasn’t been at the highest level with the media because they didn’t know much about it,” Poonen said. “Just the fact that I’m here brings a lot more notoriety to this company.”

Cohesity has attracted big name investors such as Amazon, Cisco, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Sequoia Capital. When Amazon bought a stake in Cohesity last year, Poonen said, the approval came from Andy Jassy, ​​who took over from Jeff Bezos as CEO of the e-commerce and cloud giant in July 2021. .

During Poonen’s tenure at VMware, he spoke at the virtualization software maker’s annual conferences and led sales, marketing and other functions. He said he aims to add customers by prioritizing customer success and building relationships with cloud providers and other partners, rather than just pumping up the company’s marketing budget.

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