Pure Gets a Giancarlo Pop


By: R. Scott Raynovich

Shares of flash-storage systems provider Pure Storage (PSTG) are getting a nice pop today (+13%) on the announcement that industry veteran Charles Giancarlo will take the helm. Giancarlo is replacing Pure CEO Scott Dietzen immediately.

Giancarlo is a veteran of both Cisco and Silver Lake Partners, where he was active in high-level product strategy, M&A moves, and investment decisions. Giancarlo was a long-time executive at Cisco and at one point, Giancarlo was expected to be the successor to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, but he left Cisco in 2007 to join Silver Lake, a prominent private equity firm.

Pure Storage could use some help, as it has been growing revenues steadily but has been having trouble working its way out of the red. On Thursday the company reported a non-GAAP net loss per share of 11 cents on revenue of $224.5 million. The company did raise its full-year guidance from $985 million and $1.025 billion. Revenue has been growing nicely but the company has yet to turn a profit since it went public in 2015.

Giancarlo is well placed to take Pure to the next level. He came to Cisco through the acquisition of Ethernet witching pioneer Kalpana in the 1990s, and he has extensive experience with many enterprise networking, collaboration, and storage technologies. Giancarlo was also former CEO of Avaya, an enterprise communications hardware and software vendor. He has been active in investing and founding other startups in the enterprise networking and infrastructure space, including Avi Networks, Big Switch Networks, Blue Jeans Networks, Equinix, NetSpeed, Vantage Data Centers, and Virtual Instruments.

"We believe Charlie is the best candidate to scale Pure to become a multi-billion dollar global leader in data infrastructure and solutions," Dietzen said in a statement, adding that he and the board started the search for a new CEO a few months ago.

Cisco's biggest accomplishment at Cisco was helping to scale the Ethernet switching business as it rose to prominence. A Cisco biography about Giancarlo says that under his watch, "Cisco’s stackable switching and access routing revenue and market share grew significantly and Cisco led the industry with award-winning wireless LAN and stackable Layer 3 Ethernet switch introductions."

Giancarlo joins Pure at an interesting juncture with the opportunity to take it to the next level. Pure makes high performance storage systems based on solid-state flash memory, which is displacing older and slower (but cheaper) disk-drive technology. These systems are popular in enterprises and cloud storage environments. At the same time, storage systems are becoming increasingly integrated with networking and server systems, a trend know in the industry as "hyperconvergence," which will offer Pure and Giancarlo options to expand the business.

In early trading today, Pure Storage was up $1.66 to $14.22, a 13 percent rise.