Red-Hot Xamarin Hires 15-year Microsoft Developer Exec To Run Sales Strategy

Xamarin, the mobile app development startup that's growing increasingly tight with Microsoft, has hired a longtime executive from the software giant to help take its business to the next level.

Sam Henry, who spent nearly 15 years at Microsoft in various developer facing roles, joined Xamarin in November as vice president of sales strategy. Xamarin announced his hiring in a press release Thursday.

Henry's latest role at Microsoft was head of global sales enablement, which included oversight of sales strategy, field marketing and sales support for Visual Studio, MSDN and Azure.

In Xamarin, Henry joins a startup that's already hugely popular with developers because it lets them build native iOS and Android apps using Microsoft's C# programming language.

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[Related: Mobile App Development Startup Xamarin Lands $54M, Plans Global Expansion ]

Xamarin claims more than 870,000 developers are using its products, and its customer lineup includes GitHub, McKesson, Dow Jones, Cognizant, Halliburton and Blue Cross Blue Shield, among others.

In an interview Friday, Henry told CRN he's planning to double the size of Xamarin's sales and customer engagement team to around 100, hiring staff at its San Francisco headquarters and other global offices.

Xamarin will continuing targeting enterprise customers, and Henry said he's already got a nucleus for a team that will serve as a kind of "mobile advisor" to large businesses that use Xamarin.

While Microsoft is Xamarin's highest profile partner, it also works with IBM, SAP and, and Henry said the startup is also open to partnerships with other platform vendors.

"Our goal here is to be the center of the mobile universe from a platform perspective," Henry told CRN.

Dave Rader, CTO at Alliance Global Services, a Philadelphia-based Xamarin partner, told CRN he thinks Henry's hiring is good news for partners that are looking to generate revenue on the Xamarin platform.

"Sam's knowledge of the existing C#/.Net developer base, and his successful outreach to open source adopters, should help Xamarin enhance their offerings and programs to win over developers considering alternatives like HTML5 or Appcelerator," Rader said.

Henry was at Microsoft when it released .NET in 2000 and was part of the .NET framework and Visual Studio team. This was "an unbelievable time" for Microsoft developers who were just getting their heads around the possibilities of C# and object-oriented development, he told CRN.

Xamarin has the same kind of "feverish momentum" that .NET had at the time, Henry said, adding that he believes Xamarin could become the enterprise standard for mobile application development.

Xamarin landed a $54 million Series C round in August and has raised $82 million since it founding in 2011.

Microsoft was said to be interested in acquiring Xamarin prior to its Build conference last April, and while that didn't come to fruition, there are plenty of developers who think it's still possible.

Xamarin could be a target for other mobile vendors as well. Henry said Xamarin will listen to offers from suitors but is in no hurry to be acquired.

"We're going to listen, but we're very happy being an independent company," he said.