Personal Reflections on the Nutanix IPO

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Nutanix CEO, Dheeeraj Pandeey, and President, Sudheesh Nair, taking a moment of reflection after a very momentous morning at Nasdaq

At the age of eleven, I already knew that I wanted my own company. I prepared by earning both undergraduate and graduate degrees in business and by reading scores of entrepreneurial biographies and autobiographies to learn from those who had founded great firms. After twenty-five years of starting, running, and selling two IT consultancies (both ultimately to publicly traded companies), I moved up to Lake Tahoe and was looking at settling into a nice part-time consulting career. Then Nutanix came calling.

When I first saw the Nutanix technology in early 2012, I thought it was extraordinary and could even be game-changing. But then I thought, “What are the odds of a fifty-person company surviving against the EMCs, NetApps and HPs of the world?” But as I watched Nutanix’s explosive growth over the next year, I became convinced that not only would it survive, but the company would indeed revolutionize the IT industry. I felt compelled to join and went back to working seventy hours a week for a start-up.

What an amazing experience it’s been. Nutanix brought an incredible combination of employees, partners, technology, investors, and vision to enable scaling on a level I would have never imagined. And the culture continues to attract people looking to change the industry with innovation.

Times Square

According to the Small Business Association, around 400,000 businesses with employees are started each year in the United States. In 2015, 169 US companies went public, making the odds about one in 30,000. And of the tiny fraction of companies to go public, only a very limit number of employees get to attend the actual IPO launch. In other words, it is an exceedingly rare opportunity.

In late August, I went mountain biking at the Northstar Tahoe resort–not realizing I was to receive an invitation a couple of weeks later to attend the IPO bell ringing in New York on September 30. If I had, maybe I wouldn’t have tried for as much air on a five-foot jump that was clearly beyond my talent level. As my younger brother insinuated (though politely), it’s pretty stupid to be mountain bike jumping at almost sixty years old.

When I received the invitation to attend the Nutanix IPO, I was beyond thrilled. I tweeted that even two broken legs wouldn’t have kept me away, and that is true. It was one of the most enjoyable and memorable days of my life.

Part of the day’s magic was simply the shared exhilaration among the eighty or so early Nutanix employees in attendance. And in true Nutanix egalitarian fashion, names were drawn for the fifteen Nutants who got to be up on the actual stage–the rest of us watched from the audience. But everyone was so stoked, and that was well before the stock started its record-setting climb.

Adding to the magic of the day was Nasdaq’s own patronage of Nutanix. As the stock was ready to go live, a Nasdaq employee remarked, “We use your technology. We believe in your company.”

The Road Ahead

As exciting as Nutanix’s IPO was, it is still only a milestone–not a destination. We have massive work to do and much distance to go to make Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform the datacenter standard. But the employees, partners, and fantastic customers ensure it will be a very fun journey.

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