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Veritas: The Best Kept Secret Everyone’s Heard of…

Often on theCUBE we have the pleasure of hosting guests that are so knowledgeable that you just want to go back and watch the videos over again. Recently, at the Veritas Vision event in Las Vegas, we had a chance to sit down with just such an individual– Bill Coleman, CEO of Veritas. Coleman is well-educated, served in the military, worked as a VC, has built and sold companies and is incredibly persuasive yet humble. It’s a killer combination for an executive who is trying to completely transform a 30+ year old company and thrive in the digital business era.

Who is Veritas?

Veritas is best known for its NetBackup franchise. In 2004, Symantec purchased Veritas for $13.5B. The company generated $2.6B in its fiscal year ending in March of 2015. But under Symantec’s decade of governance, Veritas largely faded to the background as the two firms struggled to find substantive synergies. Then in 2015, Symantec sold Veritas to the the Carlyle Group and GIC for $8B.

Coleman’s appointment appears to be a good decision as he brings the experience of building software companies, attracting top talent and fostering agile and responsive cultures. A key takeaway from the Vision conference generally and the Coleman interview specifically is that the company is emphasizing platform over point products. Veritas’ 360 Data Management Suite is the centerpiece of this strategy and is designed to be the lynchpin of an enterprise’s hybrid cloud data management approach.

How Coleman Plans to Compete

Veritas is not alone in this aspiration. Established players such as Veeam and startups like Cohesity, Rubrik and others have their sights set on the market for protecting and managing data from any cloud (public, private, hybrid, SaaS). We asked Coleman about the presence of such startups and he said he looks at them and learns. Coleman knows startups having both worked at them and done some time as a venture capitalist. Coleman’s perspective on startups:

to me, number one, they are the laboratory. They are in the areas that we that are merging, and that we don’t necessarily have a core competence, we want to look on how to do that.”

Coleman has a big vision for his company. Like virtually all tech companies these days, digital transformation is at the heart of Veritas’ purpose. Coleman’s idea on how to make Veritas relevant in the age of digital business is to focus on data management.

The first place is, for digital transformation, corporations have to switch. They have to get off what they’re doing today ultimately and go to something new. And in an enterprise, that can only be one platform. You can’t have two platforms deleting, moving data asynchronously. So, its going to be a major transformation. Now that has to be a platform. We’ve put the stake in the ground. We have that platform. Now, this is our battle to lose, because the incumbents in a transformation get to win if they’re good enough.”

The Importance of Being a Private Company

Michael Dell is fond of saying he doesn’t miss the “90-day shot clock.” Coleman told us on theCUBE that there’s no way he could execute the Veritas strategy as a public company:

I don’t think I could do this as other than a private company. Because it changes the economics dramatically. Also, at the same time, we’re switching from mostly licensed revenue, to mostly ratable avenues, we move to subscription. In a public company, that’s a, “Oh, our revenue’s going to go down for awhile, “and so is our profits, but trust me.”

Coleman also told us that he went to Carlyle and the board and told them that there’s no way he could execute on the growth plan without more investment. So the board agreed to fund an additional $99M in R&D and go-to-market this year than originally planned.

Building a Team

Coleman stressed the importance of building a great management team. He pulled Scott Genereaux out of Oracle to run sales and has brought in other managers from the outside. Coleman believes he’s built a team and a culture that has a shared vision and is aligned with the needs of customers:

like I said, one of the three pillars of my management is hire great people. And if you’re going to transform a company, if you’re going to do a turnaround, it has to start with the leadership team. Period. You can’t start anywhere else. But you have to have a leadership team that shares the vision. Shares the drive. Knows how to work hard together. And when they walk in that room, there’s not one thought about my organization or my career, or my compensation. Because they all know, if we make this work, all the rest can take care of itself.”

There’s a lot more to learn from this interview. If you’re building a company and trying to achieve alignment; or just thinking about Veritas and want to learn more, check out this curated playlist that we put together from the interview. You can scroll though the major sections at the bottom of the frame at your leisure:


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