New Neartek CEO Looks Stateside

Matt Durkin, late of EMC, aims to make tape virtualization vendor a US presence

April 17, 2004

3 Min Read
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Neartek Inc. has upped the ante in its campaign to expand in the tape virtualization market.

The company's board just hired Matthew Durkin, a former salesman at EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), as CEO. He replaces former CEO Bruce Morgan: Reportedly, the board and Morgan agreed to part ways since Morgan lives in Boulder, Colo., while the rest of Neartek's 36 employees are located in Westborough, Mass.

After working five years at EMC in the 80s, Durkin, 44, was an executive at several software startups, including Centerstone Software, which makes resource management software, where he started as VP of sales in October 2002 and moved to CEO in March of 2003. Durkin also headed up Terascape, a storage management software company bought by EMC in 2000. Durkin did a stint back in 2002 at StorScape, a company sold into obscurity in April 2003 (see StorScape Joins Software Parade and Slovenes Take Over StorScape).

Durkin's appointment follows a financial revamping of Neartek last October, in which investors restructured the company's shares and brought in a new $8 million in Series A funding (see Neartek Scores $8M Round). Neartek, a decade old, has already gone through at least three financial iterations: In 2002, the VCs that led the latest round arranged for $27 million in financing. In an even earlier life, Neartek was a mainframe software supplier based in France, where it garnered $40 million in funding.

Apparently, Neartek's backers see enough fresh activity in the market for tape virtualization software to make yet another new start. Indeed, products like Neartek's, which eliminate the need for dedicated tape drives and libraries for application servers, storage devices, and backup applications that otherwise would be tied into tape, are getting more mindshare, as the need to improve storage performance increases. Other startups, such as Diligent Technologies Corp. (see Diligent Technologies), as well as larger companies like EMC have made fresh forays of their own into the segment.If now is the time to strike, Neartek's backers seem to think it's also time to overcome the obstacles that have hindered the firm up to now.

Chief among those obstacles is a lack of reseller support and a presence restricted mostly to Europe. "My goal is to develop Neartek's presence in the U.S.," Durkin says. He says "some" large customers, largely brought to Neartek through a "server manufacturer," have accounted for the company's U.S. presence until now. That's got to change.

Durkin won't say so, but Neartek's server partner appears to be Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), with which it forged a reseller relationship a few months back (see Neartek Software Ships Through HP).

Meanwhile, Durkin says the company is happy with its engineering team. His focus will be mostly on getting outbound sales and marketing in better shape to sell to large enterprise customers stateside, and then to expand OEM relationships.

Can a company that's been trying to get a grip on the U.S. market for nearly a decade succeed at last in a segment that's getting more competitive by the month? Durkin is ready to try: "We have a real shot at making this a success," he says.

Figure 1: Matt Durkin, CEO, Neartek Inc.

Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

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