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VMware CEO Builds Brand With James Corden, Humanitarian Efforts

“Yeah, we’re going to have fun with James Corden throwing us under the bus saying, ‘What do you mean ‘vRealize’? Me realize what?!’” said VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger, in an interview with CRN.

Making VMware a recognizable brand outside the IT world is necessary for Pat Gelsinger’s bullish growth goals, which is why the virtualization leader is doubling down on brand relevance and recognition through a healthy mix of celebrities and humanitarian efforts.

The company recently hosted NBA legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson at its headquarters and had late night talk show and world renowned celebrity “Carpool Karaoke” host James Corden attend a recent event.

“We are in this unique position in the industry where, yeah, we’re going to have fun with James Corden throwing us under the bus saying, ‘What do you mean ‘vRealize’? Me realize what?!’ You know, he’s just really a hysterical guy,” said VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger in an interview with CRN. “You will see us being more visible. You will see us having the James Cordens, the Magic Johnsons and you’ll see other such examples. However, I’m equally as excited to have Mercy Ships and Malala [Yousafzai] on stage, because we do believe very deeply in tech for good. We have to be shaping the world with our technology.”

[Related: Pat Gelsinger: Cisco ACI ‘Bicycle’ Will Never Match VMware NSX ‘Lamborghini’]

Gelsinger said he is striving to make VMware the “essential, ubiquitous, digital infrastructure company for customers’ business transformation.” He said he understands that in order to achieve such a market-dominating presence, making VMware a recognizable brand outside the IT world is a necessity.

“Today, we’re now 100 million-ish workloads, 100 million-ish devices. Well over the next decade, I want ten-times that – I want 1 billion workloads. 1 billion devices. We are out to become this essential layer that’s part of our customer’s future,” said Gelsinger. “But there’s no way we execute our vision without becoming more visible as well and raising our brand relevance.”

During large technology conferences, the hosting vendor typically has at least one keynote on stage who is a well-known actor or celebrity, with past examples including Bryan Cranston and Ashton Kutcher. VMware does this as well during events such as VMworld, but last year, the company pulled in world-renowned women education activist and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai to be on the VMworld 2018 stage.

“That’s who we are as a company -- we can have fun, but we’re also going to seriously impact issues that truly make the world a better place,” said Gelsinger.

Gelsinger, for his part, has created charities himself for various humanitarian issues across the globe. Last year, the longtime VMware CEO took on the monumental task of climbing Africa’s highest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro, to raise money to construct a much-needed high school for girls in Kenya.

“I got to the point where I was doing 5,000 steps an hour with a 20-pound pack. I was super fit and ready for it, with the exception of downhill,” said Gelsinger in an interview with CRN, regarding his arduous training to climb the nearly 20,000-foot mountain.

Josh Lee, director of sales for Nanuet, N.Y.-based VMware partner VirtuIT Systems, said Gelsinger’s strategy to make VMware, which is majority owned by Dell Technologies, a more recognizable company is working.

“More marketing, more publicity, more celebrities, more golf tournaments – all these things that VMware and Dell Technologies are doing, the more the better from our perspective,” said Lee. “Just because people who are not business people or not involved in IT or don’t understand how much IT has a impact on moving the bottom line -- the more people who see VMware, the better. The sky’s the limit as far as VMware growth is concerned.”

Gelsinger said VMware will continue to drive broader global brand visibly into the $76 billion market cap company by hosting more celebrities as well as having “very sober conversations” about better healthcare needs and leveraging technology to make the world a safer place.

Gelsinger’s efforts to make VMware a household named outside the IT world has no bounds, even if that means making a guest appearance on James Corden’s famous “Carpool Karaoke.”

“I don’t mind singing now and then. I can’t promise that, but James and I got along okay. He threw me under the bus for my attire. We have a few good touché back and forth. I can imagine [”Carpool Karaoke”] in the future,” said Gelsinger.

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