Frank Slootman has the gift of gab. That's not an uncommon trait in CEOs, for sure, but it's notable in his case for several reasons. There's his marketing background at Borland and Compuware that lends him a salesman's persistence. Then there's his confidence and the sheer volume of words he delivers -- this is an executive who could talk for hours. And he's easy to listen to, his words touched with the faintest of Dutch accents.
Slootman's verbal gifts will no doubt come in handy this year, as Data Domain is challenged by competition in the wake of its impressive 2007 IPO which demonstrates the widespread market interest in data de-duplication. In the viciously competitive storage market, no supplier stands still for long, particularly at the level of success that Data Domain has achieved. Slootman's wearing an invisible target on his back.
If it bothers him, he isn't saying. "Over 2007 we created a huge amount of distance between ourselves and the competition," he boasts. In his view, catching up to his newly public firm will be a major challenge, even for companies like EMC.
"Building the technology is a gestation process. It doesn't matter if you have billions of dollars," he says. "If you want to have a baby, it takes nine months. You can throw 100 women at the problem and it's not going to make a difference. You have to learn just like we have over the last six years... If you got started a year ago, you're about five years behind Data Domain."
Frank Slootman, CEO, Data Domain