Last week, video surveillance storage solutions provider Pivot3 announced that Ron Nash would succeed Richard Bravman as its new CEO. Nash is no stranger to the company. He was an investor in the firm and previously served as a member of the board of directors as well as chairman for eight years.
Prior to his involvement with Pivot3, Nash worked with startup companies such as ExoLink (acquired by Alliance Data Systems), Advanced Telemarketing (now Aegis Global) and Rubicon (acquired by Cerner). He also worked for larger IT companies like EDS (now HP Enterprise Services) and Perot Systems where he served as senior vice president, helping the company grow from a $100 million business to a $1.2 billion company before Dell acquired the firm in 2009.
Nash’s experience in the startup world, his know-how of running larger organizations, and his knowledge of Pivot3 made him an ideal choice to serve as a top executive at Pivot3, according to the company’s founder and CTO Bill Galloway.
The timing could not come at a better time, as the company has ventured into the virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) sector with its vSTAC VDI appliances. The product provides both computer functionality for running video management software and shared storage resources needed for the client operating system.
Read on as Nash discusses plans for Pivot3, his challenges marketing surveillance storage and VDI products, and what he predicts will happen in the security industry in the future.
With your experience with startup companies, what do you plan to bring to Pivot3?
Ron Nash: There are three things that a startup company needs: product, market and team. If you don’t have a product that faces off against a big market, it doesn’t matter if you’re really smart and work really hard; it doesn’t add up to a giant valuation.
I’ve seen hundreds of people start companies. A lot of them have great ideas and almost every startup is staffed by people who will just work themselves to death seven days a week. They’ll work for about six years and then the company is worth $7 million or $20 million or something like that, and that’s kind of sad.
I think one of the most important questions to ask is: How much can this company be worth? I think Pivot3 can be worth several billion dollars because of the markets that it goes in. It is very important, I think, that you have that kind of headroom. Once you have the headroom, you have to have a product that is very different and gives benefits to customers that are substantial that clients notice quickly. It also must be easy to explain to customers what the product is and why it’s different and better than the way they used to do it before.
Then you’ve got to have a top-notch team of intelligent people, otherwise these things don’t work. That’s one of the things I saw Pivot3 build.
What are you doing to gain market share with the VDI product?
VDI has been around for a long time, but it was very, very expensive for people to use it, like a couple thousand dollars for a desktop to put the software on a PC for virtual desktop. Some people used VDI when they needed to have security and control. Some people who had high value applications where they could afford a couple thousand dollars for each PC in a business network did it.
Now, the price points are coming down. So, Pivot3 can install the software for $400 or $500 a desktop. That’s a very easy proposition to take to market for a startup because you say, the idea is already out there, people know why it’s important and they know why it would be good to do it for their organization. So we can tell clients that because of our technology, we have made a breakthrough that will drop the cost and customers to have the same functionality and capabilities that people, five years ago, spent a couple thousand dollars a desktop to do. I think those types of value propositions are pretty easy to articulate in the market and pretty easy for people to understand.
What specific vertical markets is Pivot3 targeting?
With the security products, we were tackling markets in video surveillance. Now, there are different industries that have video surveillance. The transportation industry in a subway station, the gaming industry in a casino; they each have video surveillance. So, for those industries, it’s pretty easy to say, “Look, we’re a video surveillance product,” because it’s well defined.
A VDI product goes across any industry. Every industry in the whole world could use this product and so we have to figure out how to target it based upon a strata of where performance is designed and architected to be. That’s a much more difficult and challenging marketing problem, and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to join Pivot3 to kind of help them through that.
Speaking of challenges, what hurdles do you foresee?
You’ve got to remember that surveillance is our first product. Surveillance is almost all of our revenue at this moment and time. That’s an important industry; it’s a growth industry to us. I want the surveillance business to grow 50% next year.
One of the pitfalls that you find in companies like this is when you have a new product, sometimes all the people want to rush to the new product. Now that we have this virtual desktop product, I think the big challenge is how can we balance these two things so that employees, customers and channel partners understand it.
We certainly don’t want anyone to think we’re not interested in surveillance because we’re going to virtual desktop. That’s just not the case; surveillance is important to us. It’s almost like when a mom has her second child or her third child. She still loves all her children, but she’s got to spend a little time with each one.
We want people to know that we’re still going to be innovative in surveillance and we’re still going to be aggressive in surveillance. Our clients are still going to have some of the best products out there.
You mentioned that you wanted to grow the surveillance sector by 50% next year. What are your plans to do that?
First off, the segment itself has grown pretty darn close to that. People are adding more sophisticated cameras by putting in HD cameras versus analog cameras. That causes a lot more data to be stored, so they have to buy more storage. We don’t have to knock out 10 other competitors in order to grow aggressively. We just have to ride the wave and have our share.
I’d like to get a little more than our share. I’d like to be one of the fastest-growing vendors, but it’s not hand-to-hand with a fixed sized market. This market is growing pretty fast on its own, so it’s a matter of keeping up and making sure your products are fresh, making sure they’re competitive, making sure they are priced right and presented right.
We’re getting close to 2014. What do you anticipate is going to be the most pressing issue in the security industry next year?
Right now, each system is a discreet system, so if you’re in a neighborhood and there is a hi-rise office building and there is a shopping center that has video surveillance out in the parking lot, each of those systems are discreet systems. I don’t know if this will happen next year, but I think that the next level of security is going to be people passing from system to system.
When the bombing happened at the Boston Marathon, people were tracked as they were walking down the street and afterwards, crossing multiple systems that multiple people had and they had to go back and stitch that together. They had to do that with a lot of manual effort.
Is there anything that you would like to add?
One thing that I always like to add for this industry and for Pivot3 is that we’re here and we’re going to be here. If you look at the surveillance industry storage companies, there have been a bunch of people in and out of that industry. People make great claims and they say they are going to be longstanding players and they do it for a couple of years and then they drop out. There have been a lot of ins and outs for storage players in surveillance and that’s not the case with us. We’ve been in [this sector] for years and we plan to be in for years from now.
Ashley Willis | Associate Editor