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Building a Fat Startup with a Massive Patent Portfolio: Cleversafe Founder Chris Gladwin (Part 7)

Posted on Tuesday, Jul 29th 2014

Sramana: What are some of the metrics of the business today?

Chris Gladwin: We are doing many tens of millions of revenue. We have 130 employees and have raised over $100 million in total. We have built a very large patent portfolio. We have 186 patents. We had six issued last Tuesday. We typically get three to five every week. We have many, many more in the queue. That is where we are in terms of growth of the company.

Sramana: A company with that kind of patent portfolio is going to be very valuable. The IP portfolio is going to have huge value. How do you look at the value of IP when looking at the overall company valuation?

Chris Gladwin: There are a lot of reasons why a company would want to establish a patent portfolio. In each of the companies I have created, we have always created tens of patents. That is important if you are a technology company. It establishes and validates your credibility in eyes of investors or acquirers. It is hard for investors to understand your technology in depth and understand everything about it in depth. They look for measures that can verify that for them.

In certain transactions such as an IPO or acquisition, it can also verify your credibility. That is what I would consider the basic patent strategy and you probably need ten or so patents to accomplish those goals. In our case, if you look at companies in our space, they all have patent portfolios in the hundreds or the thousands. If you intend to be that type of company, you are also going to need a similar patent portfolio.

We have felt for some time that Cleversafe has the potential to be the industry leader in enterprise storage. To be a leader in that market, you need to have that kind of patent portfolio.

Sramana: You also need technology that can support that kind of patent portfolio. Most $100 million companies don’t have enough technology to support that portfolio.

Chris Gladwin: That is definitely true. If you look at the pedigree of the people we have here, we have people who have been at many, many different technology companies.

Sramana: You are running a very high tech company based in Chicago. What is that like as opposed to doing it in Silicon Valley or Boston?

Chris Gladwin: I have done three companies here and I have also managed a development team in California. A friend of mine is a CEO out in Boston and he recently came to visit. He pulled me aside and told me he could not believe the quality of the people that we have. He could not get that talent in Boston because it would cost too much.

The Chicago area produces as many engineers as San Francisco and Silicon Valley. We have had the luxury of retaining that talent. They graduate here and want to stay here. It is very easy to have a nice lifestyle here. It is a very easy way to have a great life. I travel all the time and I never connect. I get direct flights everywhere.

Sramana: Avoiding the talent war fight is a huge advantage. That fight is very expensive for companies in Silicon Valley.

Chris Gladwin: We have never lost an engineer or developer to a competitor. None of them are here.

Sramana: It has been very nice talking to you. It looks like you have built a very good company.

This segment is part 7 in the series : Building a Fat Startup with a Massive Patent Portfolio: Cleversafe Founder Chris Gladwin
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