Almost a year ago, my partner Barry Eggers and I met with Craig Elliott and Scott Hankins to talk about their vision for a new company, Pertino. Over a coffee in a small office in Cupertino (yes, their name is related to their founding hometown), we talked about how it was the right time to build a new networking company due to the confluence of three major trends: cloud, software defined networking (SDN), and the consumerization of IT.
The discussion struck a chord with us. Lightspeed is a strong believer in these trends having led early investments in next generation networking companies such as Nicira, Embrane, and Plexxi, as well as cloud companies like Appdynamics and zScaler. We believe that a large amount of legacy enterprise infrastructure, which has traditionally been delivered as proprietary, complex hardware is being disrupted on two dimensions: first, on a technical basis with software that is more programmable, flexible and easier to manage and configure; and second, on a business model basis that replaces the traditional perpetual software or hardware license process with a more granular buy “by the drip” service model.
Veterans of the networking industry, Craig formerly served as the CEO of Packeteer, a high-flying networking appliance vendor that he took public in 1999 with Scott as his director of engineering. At Packeteer, they built a hardware-based appliance that was expensive and complex to manage. Of course, they didn’t market it that way back in the late 90’s, but at the time, that’s how networking hardware was built and sold.
With the evolution of technology in the years since Packeteer, Craig, Scott, and Pertino co-founders Andrew Mastracci and Michael Cartsonis wanted to build a new type of networking company – one which combined SDN principles with the elasticity of the cloud to create a scalable, secure, and distributed wide area network (WAN) and that was built entirely out of software. Given their core expertise in networking, we believed that they were one of the few teams in the world that could deliver on this promise.
From a business model perspective, the Pertino team observed how the shift to the cloud was enabling an entirely new class of IT services that could empower the little guy. Rather than having to wait for IT to buy, provision, and configure a piece of hardware, the Pertino team envisioned a model that simplified adoption of cloud services where users could pay using a credit card and be up and running in minutes– no hardware, upfront investment or expertise required. While Box and Dropbox are great examples of companies that provide cloud storage and Amazon and Rackspace provide cloud compute resources, no one – until today – offered cloud based connectivity for the WAN.
A key to building a company that sells to the small business user or individual is usability. We loved the fact that Pertino was focusing their efforts on delighting the end-user by delivering immediate, intuitive value within minutes of installation, without requiring help from IT. Instead of selling to the CIO (which could have long, costly sales-cycles), Pertino has focused on marketing and selling their services directly to the end-user.
At Lightspeed, we’re excited about our partnership with the Pertino team as they continue to transform and redefine the way businesses network. For more information about today’s Pertino launch, visit www.pertino.com. You can also follow me on Twitter at @arifj and @lightspeedvp.