EMC's Symons Heads to Yosemite

EMC CTO departs to take top role at backup software startup Yosemite Technologies

October 23, 2006

4 Min Read
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In a surprise move, EMC CTO George Symons has jumped ship from the storage giant to take the helm of 50-person software startup Yosemite Technologies.

Symons' departure has already raised some eyebrows in the storage market. "In some ways I am surprised -- he is going from a nice big environment to a startup," says analyst Greg Schulz of the StorageIO Group, although he adds that Symons has already experienced startup life at Full Time Software, which was eventually bought by Legato.

For his part, Symons says that he is comfortable with his decision. "I am an entrepreneur," he told Byte & Switch. "In a large company, you're involved and you work on different things, but the impact is different."

The former EMC exec plans to refocus Yosemite on the SMB market, given the startup's less-than-stellar results to win more enterprise dollars. (See Yosemite Revamps Pricing.) "Honestly, I think it was a mistake -- the company lost some focus by doing that," he said in an interview late last week. "The requirements of the enterprise are so broad."

Instead, Yosemite will target the SMB space, and Symons is already planning to expand the startup's product line around desktop and laptop backup, as well as filling in other gaps -- "key areas around ease of use and ease of management," he explains.As CTO for information management at EMC, Symons oversaw the vendor's entire product and technical strategy, and was also at the forefront of the firm's Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) efforts. (See EMC Intros Services, EMC Vows More for Infoscape, EMC Peels Back IIM, and EMC Intros IIM.)

Prior to joining EMC, Symons held a number of positions at backup specialist Legato, including CTO and vice president of product management and marketing. (See CTOs Look Outside the Box, Legato Couples With Big Blue, and Does Legato Outpace NSI?) When EMC acquired his firm back in 2003, Symons was working on integrating Legato's backup and recovery products with EMC's Documentum content management software. (See EMC Gobbles Legato, and IBM Uses Legato for Email.)

Symons succeeds Yosemite's Kevin Reinis, who recently left the company to head up entertainment systems specialist NetStreams.

The startup is one of a number of software vendors looking to have an impact in the backup space and make a dent in behemoth Symantec's business. (See Backup & Archive: Not Synonymous.) "We will tackle them in a couple of ways," says Symons, explaining that Yosemite will look to leverage its OEM partners and resellers. "I can't hit the breadth that [Symantec] can hit, but I can offer more specialized and focused attention with the VARs."

But winning partners over will be a major challenge, according to Schulz. "The key thing is that he has got to really focus and articulate where [Yosemite] are playing, what they are doing, and what they are not doing."Yosemite has already signed OEM deals with HP, Dell, Tandberg, Exabyte, and Iomega. (See Yosemite Does Disk, Exabyte Bundles Yosemite, Exabyte & Yosemite Partner Up, and Yosemite, Iomega Ink Pact.) HP, for example, rebadges the startup's technology as its Data Protector Express product.

More OEM deals are a possibility, according to Symons, although he would not reveal whether he is in discussions with any interested parties.

The CEO, however, was a little more forthcoming on whether Yosemite would be adding a Series C to its existing $14 million funding haul. "We're not looking at additional funding now," he says. "There's enough money in the company to do the growth that we need right now."

This is not the first time that a high-profile exec has left a big-name storage vendor to try his luck at the helm of a much smaller firm. Former McData senior vice president Mike Gustafson, for example, moved over to become president of NAS startup BlueArc back in 2004, later stepping up to the CEO's role. (See Gustafson Takes BlueArc CEO Post, BlueArc President Speaks Up, and BlueArc's Gustafson Moves Up.)

A year earlier, another McData exec, Alain Andreoli, the firm's former executive vice president of worldwide sales and services, turned up in the CEO's chair at SAN specialist Xiotech. (See McData Sales Boss McExits, Ex-McData EVP to Head XIOtech, and XIOTech Names McData Vet CEO.) Then, in 2004, Xiotech appointed former Dell storage guru Karl Schubert as its executive vice president and CTO. (See Dell Storage Chief Joins Xiotech.)James Rogers, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

  • BlueArc Corp.

  • Dell Inc. (Nasdaq: DELL)

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • EMC Legato

  • Exabyte Corp. (Nasdaq: EXBT)

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • Iomega Corp. (NYSE: IOM)

  • McData Corp. (Nasdaq: MCDTA)

  • The StorageIO Group

  • Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC)

  • Tandberg ASA (OSE: TAA)

  • Xiotech Corp.

  • Yosemite Technologies Inc.

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