Pivotal CFO: We Will Continue To Aggressively Invest In Partners As A Public Company


Pivotal Software, the spin-out of EMC and VMware that's the leading force behind the Cloud Foundry project, became a publicly traded company Friday with its listing on the New York Stock Exchange.

The Platform-as-a-Service developer that once joked of itself, given its unusual origin five years ago, as the world's largest software startup, debuted on the stock market with an IPO that delivered a $3.9 billion valuation.

While the infusion of capital will help fund ambitious partner enablement efforts, a growing base of systems integrators won't see any substantial change from the public offering in Pivotal's overall channel strategy, Pivotal CFO Cynthia Gaylor told CRN soon after the listing.

[Related: Pivotal's IPO Holds Promise For The Cloud Foundry Project And The Company's Burgeoning Channel]

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"The partner ecosystem is critical to the success of the company," Gaylor said. "We're a platform company and for any platform you need an ecosystem. We make a lot of investments for our partners."

Pivotal's channel has been largely supportive of the IPO, she said, recognizing that the move was important given the size of the company and its rate of growth. Most partners had expected a public listing long before it was announced.

Pivotal, headquartered in San Francisco, only in the past couple years reached a scale where the channel started to pay a lot of attention, she said, recognizing Pivotal Cloud Foundry as a powerful connective platform across the modern enterprise.

"We're kind of at a tipping point with a lot of our partners," Gaylor told CRN.

The IPO won't change anything about how Pivotal operates from a partner perspective, Gaylor said. Pivotal will continue to invest across its ecosystem, particularly in enabling SIs, as it has been doing in recent years.

A recently struck partnership with Accenture that's "really taking off" is a good example of the evolving relationship between Pivotal and many global SIs, Gaylor said.

Last year, Pivotal saw more than $500 million in revenue, with more than half from subscriptions and the rest from services.

While the company will continue to build out Pivotal Labs, that services arm is already at scale, Gaylor said, so Pivotal is highly dependent on partners to drive growth going forward.

Channel development is a "strategic initiative for us," Gaylor said. "But I wouldn't connect that to the IPO."

The market opportunity is enormous. Gaylor said $50 billion is a conservative estimate when considering all the legacy middleware and PaaS in production that is ready to be replaced.

Partners can seize on that opportunity by modernizing legacy apps with Pivotal Cloud Foundry, delivering to their customers operational efficiencies.

"That type of work in terms of migrating legacy applications is right up the alley of companies like Accenture and Cognizant," Gaylor said. "It's great getting those partnerships off the ground. It helps us accelerate our software platform and accelerate their services business in a very strategic way."

ISVs are also a key element of the strategy. Third-party developers see Pivotal Cloud Foundry as a platform that can connect their products across the enterprise, she said.

When Pivotal spun out, it had roughly 1,000 employees and some revenue, but no subscription sales and a platform that hadn't even been commercialized.

Since then, a comprehensive portfolio has emerged that's now delivering a subscription run rate around $300 million.

As Pivotal expands those offerings, it will continue to be a steward of the Cloud Foundry project, contributing code to the community while also advancing its proprietary layer that sits on top of the open source code.

Complimenting the on-premises PaaS offering is PKS, a public cloud container service delivered in partnership with VMware and Google. Another area of focus for the company is Pivotal Function Service, a serverless option not yet commercially available, Gaylor said.

"We want to be the platform for all workloads. We want to be the platform that enterprises want to use to abstract the layers as the industry evolves," Gaylor told CRN.

Pivotal filed for an IPO on March 23. On Thursday, it listed a price of $15 per share. The stock started trading Friday at $16.75 per share before slightly falling. It closed at $15.72 per share.

Much of the hoopla around Pivotal's IPO revolves around the relationship with Dell Technologies, which holds a majority of the stock and almost the entirety of control based on the share structure. Other shareholders include GE, Ford and Microsoft.

Dell is looking to relieve a massive debt burden it took on from acquiring EMC 00 the deal which brought Pivotal under its roof.

But the cash raised from the IPO will remain with Pivotal and not go to paying off Dell's debt, the company said in its SEC filings.