Cloud Defection: VMware Loses Former AWS Evangelist Brunozzi To Stealthy Silicon Valley Startup

Simone Brunozzi, the cloud evangelist VMware hired away from Amazon Web Services nearly two years ago to boost its hybrid cloud business, has left the virtualization vendor to join a stealthy startup, CRN has learned.

Brunozzi, who was vice president and chief technologist for hybrid cloud at VMware, told CRN on Wednesday that he's now chief technology officer at MosaixSoft, a San Francisco-based cloud computing startup.

Although VMware wanted him to stay, Brunozzi said, he decided to join MosaixSoft because it gives him an opportunity "to pursue something that really excites me."

[Related: After Extended Period Of Turmoil, Can VMware Right The Ship With vCloud Air Hybrid Cloud Service?]

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"Leaving VMware was my decision, driven by what I wanted to do, and we parted ways very amicably," said Brunozzi, who revealed his departure from VMware in a Jan. 8 blog post.

VMware's hiring of Brunozzi in February 2014 was hailed as a major coup for the vendor, which had just launched its own public cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service the year before and needed a high-profile advocate to help promote it.

Yet VMware's public cloud, now known as vCloud Air, has struggled to gain share in a marketplace dominated by AWS, Microsoft, Google and IBM. According to partners, VMware arrived late to the market and was slow to add credit card signup and consumption-based pricing to the vCloud Air offering, which made it a tough sell.

Brunozzi is the latest high-ranking vCloud Air executive to leave in recent months, following Riccardo Di Blasio (senior vice president of sales and marketing) and Mathew Lodge (vice president of cloud services), who departed last fall.

A VMware spokesman told CRN that the vendor is replacing Brunozzi's role with a number of existing members of its vCloud Air team.

"In the past few years, we have built a strong team of cloud architects that will assume Simone’s responsibilities," said the spokesman.

MosaixSoft is still in stealth mode, so Brunozzi declined to discuss its technology or market focus. The startup's founder and CEO, Brett Galloway, previously spent six years at Cisco Systems, joining the networking giant in 2005 after its $450 million acquisition of wireless LAN vendor Airespace.

MosaixSoft has landed an unspecified amount of funding from Lightspeed Venture Partners, Menlo Park, Calif. Barry Eggers, founder and partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners, told CRN that his firm led the Series A round, describing it as "an above average size given the quality of the team and CEO."

Brunozzi joined AWS in 2008 as a senior technology evangelist, a role that included serving as the public face for the public cloud giant at an early stage of its development. He played a key role in developing AWS' business in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and one former colleague described him as "the poster child for AWS."

Jeff Aden, executive vice president of marketing and strategic development at 2nd Watch, a Seattle-based AWS partner, has worked with Brunozzi and described him as "a highly passionate guy who was articulate about the technology and what it would do for your business."

While VMware has said it's still committed to developing vCloud Air, the exodus of top-level leadership suggests that the service isn't carrying as much weight in the industry as it once did, according to some of the Palo Alto, Calif.-based vendor's partners.

EMC, which owns about 80 percent of VMware but is in the process of being acquired by Dell, hatched a plan last October to combine vCloud Air with its Virtustream cloud business in a 50-50 joint venture. But VMware shares plummeted after the deal was announced, and VMware pulled out of the joint venture in December.