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Aviatrix’s Steve Mullaney: There’s No Going Back To ‘Cisco Model Of The 90s’

Gina Narcisi

“We’re very picky, actually, about who we work with. If somebody is tied to the old, on-prem world, and selling boxes, we say: ‘Good luck and hold your breath when the boat goes down, because you’re going to get pulled under,’” the company’s CEO Steve Mullaney tells CRN.

Why do you think Aviatrix’s odds in beating the incumbents are so good?

I was on the board of Aviatrix. We were already in the market. We already had a few hundred customers and we already were doing a few million in [annual recurring revenue] ARR. We were a cloud-native solution. It wasn’t like we’re taking something from on-prem and trying to bolt it into the cloud. I said, “Why not us? Let’s go for it.” I told the board that I’d be the CEO on one condition: we’re not going to sell off for some crappy couple billion-dollar acquisition -- I’ve already done that. This is going to be tens of billions of dollars and we’re going to own the category. The market size of cloud is 10x and the velocity at which people are deploying cloud now and the velocity at which winners and losers are defined is [much faster]. In 1992, if you think about Cisco, it really took Cisco about 15 years to really become dominant because the velocity at which people could deploy -- because it was boxes, racks, humans and complexity -- it just naturally took 12-15 years to deploy a global network for these enterprises. Now with the cloud, it’s all software. Now, I can just leverage all this wonderful infrastructure that’s out there [from the cloud giants] with software, so the deployment phase goes very, very quick. Winners and losers are going to be defined very quickly.

Networking is always the last layer. People start at the application and kind of start working their way down. Then at the very end, they start thinking: “Oh, what about networking?” Same thing happened at Nicera. We virtualized compute 15 years before we virtualized networking. The same thing is happening with cloud. People are starting to know, the next layer of infrastructure underneath it from an automation perspective. They’re going to go down the stack and they’re going to look at networking. And they’re going to see Aviatrix. We’ve got over 500 customers now, and we just raised another $75 million in Series D with General Catalyst. We’re doubling every year [and we have] over 200 people in the company. We’ll be more than doubling in terms of headcount and in ARR every year, and we’ll IPO, probably somewhere between a year and two years from now.

 
Gina Narcisi

Gina Narcisi is a senior editor covering the networking and telecom markets for CRN.com. Prior to joining CRN, she covered the networking, unified communications and cloud space for TechTarget. She can be reached at gnarcisi@thechannelcompany.com.

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