Pure Storage's Dietzen - we'll be up there with the storage giants

It’s not often you get the CEO of a tech startup tell you his company is going to be a market leader, in the tens of $billions of revenue category. That’s what flash array maker Pure Storage CEO Scott Dietzen told me this week, so I thought it worth recording. After all, achieving such an aim would put Pure alongside the likes of EMC, NetApp, IBM etc in storage revenues.

Currently, Pure Storage has around 400 employees and “hundreds” of customers worldwide. Those magnitudes place it firmly in the startups camp, but it does have a healthy balance sheet and prospects.

It has, for example, attracted possibly the biggest funding injection in enterprise storage history. Talk is that it is IPO-ready, on the basis of a valuation, “north of $1 billion”, said Dietzen and it has seen several quarters of growth in the region of 50%. The company could have gone for an IPO but decided to stay private, said the CEO.

Why would it do that? A company in such rude health must be getting offers it can’t refuse. And it must face questions from customers concerned it could be snapped up by big six player, or that it could have a less-than-successful IPO, like Violin did.

Dietzen said Pure had been approached by half a dozen potential buyers, but it has decided to hold out. He believes that Pure has the strength to stay the course to achieve a place alongside the giants of storage.

“Why? Our numbers are really good – we’ve been growing at 50% a quarter sequentially – and we have a desire to stay independent for the long term. All storage is going to shift to flash and if you’re not growing at 40% to 50% a quarter you’re not going to maintain market share there.”

“I’m frequently called on to answer questions about why we’re not entertaining M&A conversations. We’re a private company that has shareholders to look after. But that said, our shareholders see that ultimately a market leader in the flash array space is worth tens of billions of dollars and that we are on track to achieve that.”

“Ultimately, companies get to be as big as they deserve to be. If you do what you do as well as we have you are not available as an acquisition target. We’ve experienced huge growth and see the same in front of us. This is how market-leading companies get built; they’re the ones that outpace the others.”

And finally, Dietzen stuck the boot into hybrid flash arrays, which he characterised as a poor substitute for all-flash.

He said, “Hybrid flash is marketed as providing the performance of flash with the cost of disk. But often what you get is the performance of disk at the cost of flash. Disk is so much slower than flash so if 95% of I/O goes to flash and 5% to disk the overall performance will be 5x slower.”