NetApp Co-Founder Dave Hitz To Retire


Dave Hitz, co-founder and executive vice president of storage vendor NetApp, is leaving the company he co-founded in 1992.

Hitz, in a Thursday blog post, announced his retirement with a simple, "Today I am retiring from NetApp.

"It sounds so abrupt, written out like that, but it is a gradual transition. I have been cutting back my NetApp time for the last couple of years, and especially the past few months, and I won’t suddenly disappear," Hitz wrote.

[Related: CRN Exclusive: NetApp's Dave Hitz Talks Software-Defined Storage, Outlines How Challenging It Would Be To Acquire The 'New NetApp']

Sponsored post

While Hitz is best known for building NetApp from a small developer of NAS filers to a leading provider of flash storage and technology with a total market value of $15.8 billion. He was also the author of the book “How to Castrate A Bull: Unexpected Lessons on Risk, Growth, and Success in Business.”

Hitz wrote that he will not be cutting ties to NetApp yet. Instead, he compared what he is doing to that of a parent who loves his or her child but does not want to see them every day but assumes that the child will do well on their own.

"Of course, few parents abandon their children, so [NetApp CEO] George [Kurian] and I have created the role of Founder Emeritus. It’s modeled after Professor Emeritus: I don’t get paid, but I get to keep my email address and eat at the company cafeteria. (In theory, I could also use the gym. In theory.) Also, I have a non-disclosure agreement so people I meet can speak freely. Open communication is one sign of a good relationship between a parent and a twenty-something child. Don’t be surprised to bump into me at lunch or at an all-hands meeting," he wrote.

When NetApp was founded, it developed the WAFL protocol for managing file systems, a development Hitz considers his "proudest achievement."

However, he wrote, the company has come a long way in 27 years. "We are building data fabrics that let customers manage data across multiple clouds and on-premises. This is not a small mission about our own technology; it is an ambitious vision of how we can help customers achieve their goals," he wrote.

NetApp CEO George Kurian, in a statement emailed to CRN, thanked Hitz for all the support he has provided the company.

"I am extraordinarily grateful to Dave for his vision and the role that he has played every day to build, grow and nurture this institution that has achieved so much. It is next to impossible to capture all of the contributions Dave has made over the years as there have been many, and I’m glad that he’ll continue to support NetApp in our next phase of growth as our Founder Emeritus," Kurian said in his statement.

Going forward, he plans to focus more on several projects close to his heart, and on three in particular. He specified his work with the Hitz Foundation that recently supported LIDAR scans in Guatemala that found 60,000 new Mayan buildings and discovered that far more pre-Columbian people lived there than previously thought.

He will also continue to work with California-based Deep Springs College, where he went to school and more recently led a six-year battle to allow the school to admit women students. He also started the Play On! project to translate all Shakespeare's plays into performable contemporary English.