Former Splunk CEO Merritt Becomes Aviatrix’s New Leader; Mullaney Exits

Cloud networking startup Aviatrix Systems has hired Splunk’s former CEO Doug Merritt as its new president, CEO and chairman, while Aviatrix’s current leader heads for the exit.


Doug Merritt

Splunk’s former CEO, Doug Merritt, is taking the reins as CEO, president and chairman of cloud networking specialist Aviatrix Systems. The company’s current leader, Steve Mullaney, who propelled Aviatrix to achieve a $2 billion valuation in 2021, will be leaving next month.

Aviatrix Systems, which made CRN’s 2023 10 Hottest Cloud Computing Startups Of 2023 list, has been led by its charismatic CEO, Steve Mullaney, for the past four years. Mullaney was the former CEO of Nicira, which was purchased by VMware in 2012, but came out of retirement to join Aviatrix in 2019 as the cloud computing market was growing significantly.

“[My] sweet spot as a leader is the $1 to $100 [million] stage, and Doug is elite at the $100 [million] to $1 billion stage,” Mullaney said to CRN in a statement via email.

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Mullaney will be leaving the company and passing the baton to Merritt on July 6, 2023.

[Related: Aviatrix CEO: Cisco And VMware Cloud Security Shortcomings, Palo Alto Networks’ Price ‘Gouging’]

Aviatrix CEO Steve Mullaney

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Aviatrix was led by Mullaney, who was never shy to voice his opinions about his competitors and why his company will disrupt the cloud industry.

He was a high-profile former Palo Alto Networks, Nicira and VMware executive when he joined Aviatrix four years ago. In 2021, Mullaney was instrumental in ushering Aviatrix through $200 million in growth funding led by investment firm TCV, valuing the company at $2 billion.

In one of the biggest launches in the company’s history, Aviatrix last month launched its new Distributed Cloud Firewall aimed at redefining network security for the cloud era. “What I have been doing the last four years is building that networking infrastructure, building a reliable, resilient, fault tolerant, highly capable cloud networking solution,” Mullaney told CRN last month. “Distributed Cloud Firewall is the announcement of Aviatrix.”

It’s not known what Mullaney will do after leaving his Aviatrix post. He could not be reached for an interview by press time.

“Merritt will succeed Steve Mullaney, who for the past four years has built Aviatrix into an industry-defining enterprise cloud networking and network security company,” said Aviatrix in a statement. The company has approximately 350 employees.

New CEO Doug Merritt Looks Forward To ‘Next Phase’ Of Aviatrix

Merritt was previously president and CEO of Splunk before leaving in 2021 after private equity giant Silver Lake invested $1 billion into Splunk.

During his six-year tenure as CEO, he led shifts in the company’s technology roadmap, financial model, and go-to-market approach. Under Merritt’s leadership, Splunk grew sales from the equivalent of $100 million in annual recurring revenue (ARR) to nearly $3 billion in 2022, Aviatrix touted.

“In my due diligence, it became evident that Aviatrix is leading the creation of a massive new category and that Fortune 500 companies already view Aviatrix as their trusted partner for secure cloud networking,” said Merritt in a statement. “I’m grateful to Steve for instituting a ‘customer for life’ mentality, backed by an incredible team, committed to driving innovation while putting customers first.

Merritt said he looks forward to “leading the next phase of what is emerging as an iconic enterprise infrastructure company.”