Will New Head MAID Clean House?

Copan's new CEO has a rep, but vendor insists it's business as usual

January 19, 2006

2 Min Read
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1:30 PM -- Whan a startup changes CEOs, it often signals a shift in direction -- perhaps things aren't working out, or the company is entering a new phase in its development.

The folks at Copan Systems insist neither is the case with their new change at the top bringing Mark Ward back from exile to take over the disk backup and archiving startup. (See Copan Names Ward CEO.)

According to spokespeople from Copan, former CEO Dave Davenport got tired of commuting from Fredrick, Texas to Longmont, Colo. He didnt want to move to headquarters, and the startup needed an on-site CEO. Ward will pick up where Davenport left off after Copan expanded its product line based on its MAID (massive array of idle disks) architecture last fall. (See Copan Gets New MAID.)

But Ward is an interesting choice to preserve the status quo. Though his resume looks solid -- 14 years at EMC, founder of startup GiantLoop Network (now evolved into CentrePath Network Inc.), and one year as a StorageTek VP -- people describe him with terms such as “frat-boy salesman” and “bulldog attitude.” (See StorageTek Sales VP Scoots, StorageTek Tweaks Exec Team, and Has GiantLoop Done a Loop?.)

Case in point: When Ward abruptly left as head of StorageTek’s North American sales group last January, there was speculation that he was pushed out. He was gone soon after giving a pep talk at a company sales meeting, which one StorageTek salesman described as "a little too silly" for the StorageTek culture.Still, another industry insider who knows Ward says he certainly has one key thing going for him. “If nothing else, Mark is a consummate sales guy,” says analyst Arun Taneja of the Taneja Group.

So, was the colorful Ward hired to shake things up at the house of MAID? Roger Archibald, Copan’s VP of business development, chuckled when asked this question. “Reputations are only a collection of people’s opinions,” Archibald says. “This is really about building an enterprise-class organization.”

Copan is indeed at a crucial juncture. The vendor's MAID technology has gained it more than 30 customers. And at least one competitor, Nexsan, considers its technology viable enough to copy. (See Copan Takes Aim at Tape and Nexsan SATABeast Roars .) To build its base and reach profitability by the end of the 2006, as Archibald forecasts, Copan requires a solid and focused push. There may even be a need for new funding, which the startup hasn't had since 2004.

Who better to lead the way than a kick-ass salesman with a bulldog attitude?

— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and SwitchOrganizations mentioned in this article:

  • CentrePath Inc.

  • Copan Systems Inc.

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • Nexsan Technologies Inc.

  • Taneja Group

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