Data Domain Digs Up CEO

Disk backup startup names ex-Borland exec Frank Slootman its CEO. Or is it 'funeral director'?

July 29, 2003

2 Min Read
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Frank Slootman, who starts his job this week as president and CEO of disk backup appliance startup Data Domain, has a slightly unorthodox way of explaining his interest in the storage industry.

"Storage is a little like the funeral business -- it's going to be around forever and ever," he says. [Ed. note: Except storage folks don't have that funny smell... usually.]

The 44-year-old Slootman comes to Data Domain with a heavy software pedigree. Previously, he was senior VP of products at Borland Software Corp., a vendor of application development tools. Before joining Borland, Slootman held various management positions at another software tools company, Compuware Corp. He earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in economics from Erasmus University in the Netherlands.

He replaces Data Domain's acting CEO, Aneel Bhusri, a general partner at Greylock, one of the company's primary investors. The company raised $9.3 million in first-round funding from Greylock and New Enterprise Associates (NEA) in October 2002 (see Data Domain Rakes In $9.3M).

The 27-employee company, founded in September 2001, expects to raise a second round of funding in the second half of 2003. Slootman notes, however, that Data Domain is only "about halfway through" its first round.Data Domain claims its DD200 appliance, which has entered beta testing since May, is able to store backup data on disk up to 20 times more efficiently than traditional tape backup systems (see Data Domain Gets Compressed). It expects to ship the DD200, which has a starting list price of $58,000, early this fall.

As ATA disk drives continue to get cheaper, many vendors are jumping into the market with systems that can store vast amounts of data on disk, including EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP), and Storage Technology Corp. (StorageTek) (NYSE: STK) (see Disk Backup's a Red-Hot Idea and Disk Backup 101).

Slootman believes the major disk array vendors are actually helping smaller players like Data Domain: "They're plowing the way to acceptance of disk-based backup," he says. But he acknowledges that getting initial traction is a huge challenge for any startup.

"You have to knock on doors pretty hard," says Slootman. "For us, having solid, referenceable customers is priority No. 1."

In addition to recruiting Slootman, Data Domain has appointed Neal Ater to its board of directors. Ater, CEO of peer-to-peer content-delivery software company Jibe Inc., was previously in charge of backup software Veritas Software Corp. (Nasdaq: VRTS) (see Veritas Loses Pair of Senior VPs).Todd "Referenceable" Spangler, US Editor, Byte and Switch

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