I have confirmed that Mark Lewis, a long-time EMC executive has left the company. Mark Lewis was running EMC Ventures in Palo Alto and has stepped down to pursue an operating role at another company but not EMC according to a source at EMC.
EMC Ventures has been on fire on the west coast with some really good investments including Silver Springs Networks and Joyent. Silver Springs is going public and Joyent just had an amazing step valuation in their latest round of financing that we reported on SiliconANGLE.com.
Lewis joined EMC in 2002 as Chief Technology Officer from HP where he led the enterprise storage division subsequent to the acquisition of Compaq by HP. In previous roles at Compaq Lewis led the company’s storage software efforts. Lewis has a technical background and started his career as an engineer at Digital. He left HP in the early 2000′s during the HP brain drain that brought several HP storage executives to EMC, including Howard Elias, who now heads EMC’s services division, and Mark Sorenson who ran EMC’s backup business prior to the Data Domain acquisition.
Lewis and these other executives were instrumental in Joe Tucci’s plan to transform EMC after the dot.com bust, from a one-product company (Symmetrix) to a diversified storage giant. Notably, as an HP and Compaq storage executive, Lewis was highly critical of EMC’s monolithic storage approach. Sources close to the situation at the time indicate that Tucci was on a mission to transform EMC which was heavily controlled by the head of Symmetrix engineering at the time, Moshe Yanai. Lewis and his cohorts were a major part of that transformation and advocated a broader role for EMC’s CLARiiON line of products, acquired from Data General. As well, these new executives, among others at EMC, pushed for EMC to diversify through acquisitions and deepen its services strength.
This strategy resulted in several acquisitions, including Legato and Documentum. Both of these acquisitions were problematic for EMC as, in the case of Legato it took years for EMC to figure out how to successfully sell backup software against the likes of Symantec. The case of Documentum was even more vexing for EMC as the information and document management company proved to be too far up the application stack and outside of the core storage strengths of EMC’s sales teams. At the time, Tucci had come from Wang which likely influenced his affinity toward content management software. Sources indicate Lewis was instrumental in convincing Tucci to acquire Documentum which remained a sore spot due to it’s less than adequate financial performance (relative to EMC’s other businesses). At one point sources say, after executive Dave DeWalt, the head of Documentum left EMC to run McAfee, Tucci sent Lewis to the west coast to “fix” Documentum because Lewis was so instrumental in convincing Tucci to buy the company. Sources say that while Lewis was a dedicated leader and strong visionary, Documentum (now EMC’s IIG Division) never performed up to Tucci’s expectations.
These sources indicated however that Lewis was granted amnesty for the problematic acquisition of Documentum because he was also instrumental in convincing Tucci to acquire VMware, perhaps the industry’s greatest acquisition in history. EMC acquired VMware for $625M in 2004. Today, VMware’s market value is $38B of which EMC owns roughly 80%. Notably, approximately 60% of EMC’s current value can be attributed to its VMware ownership.
In 2010, after a several year stint running EMC’s content software business, Lewis was appointed Chief Strategy Officer reporting to Pat Gelsinger, EMC COO and head of the products divisions at EMC. As part of these responsibilities, Lewis ran EMC Ventures and was chartered with building a west coast presence for EMC. As is often the case with long time execs who are placed in a strategy role, this move was viewed by many as placing Lewis in a “velvet box” prior to allowing him to gracefully exit the company.
In my view this is exactly what’s happened. EMC is now entering its third major transformation and it has brought in the likes of Gelsinger to lead this change. As well, Tucci is about to retire and it’s a natural progression that long-time execs that are not in a day-to-day operational role will move on. Lewis has an impressive record of accomplishment and is establishing roots in the valley with investments in emerging cloud companies like Joyent which just raised another $85M. My bet is Lewis will land as the CEO of a startup on the west coast in the cloud, big data or emerging devops space.
For EMC’s part, as I said, it is entering its third big wave of growth. Either Gelsinger or CFO David Goulden will lead that charge as Tucci’s replacement. It’s a coin toss as to who gets that job. Gelsinger is a product and technology guru while Goulden is a long-time Tucci friend, former colleague at both Wang and Unisys, a financial type which gives him cred with Wall Street. He also ran sales at EMC– which is a big plus culturally at the raw-meat-eating company. Gelsinger led the company’s acquisition of Greenplum and is showing himself to be a highly competent and likable leader at EMC. He’s also readying Project Lightning, EMC’s attempt to own the flash stack through automated software. It’s a big bet for EMC and they’re the incumbent for much of the world’s storage. As well, Gelsinger is tight with Paul Maritz, the head of VMware and former Microsoft exec. As I’ve reported in the past, Maritz and Gelsinger are a two-punch combo that are the new Wintel. With all due respect to Dave Goulden who I don’t know, I’m rooting for Gelsinger for two reasons: 1) because he’s been such a great guest on the Cube and more importantly 2) he brings a West Coast mojo that I think EMC needs to win the next battle for the enterprise. In my view EMC will ultimately (and in many ways already does) revolve around VMware, cloud, big data and devops– and the epicenter of these trends is here in the valley.
Lewis leaves his legacy at EMC with a great track record in building out a great VC team in Palo Alto as well as being a key operating and visionary manager in turning EMC into a powerhouse. EMC just crushed earnings yesterday.
Good luck to Mark Lewis – the time was right for him to leave EMC and let the new kids on the block write the next chapter.