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Right Technology, Right Time: Opportunistic Ocarina CEO Murli Thirumale (Part 3)

Posted on Friday, May 9th 2008

SM: What year did you sell?

MT: We sold it in 2005. Today the business is number two in revenue behind Juniper in the SSL VPN market. When we started we were probably the 30th company to enter that space. We were definitely not early to market, we were very late to the market. However, for the last 4 or 5 quarters, we have been first in unit revenue and second in overall revenue in the entire market.

SM: That is impressive. How long did you stay there?

MT: I just left last year. I was there for 2 years because I wanted to get it ramped up.

SM: What did you do inside of Citrix? You just leveraged the channel?

MT: There were two things we did really well. The first was our channel leverage which was not self evident. It was not a Cisco type channel, rather it was a software application channel. Instead of selling it as a better VPN, we changed the angle. Citrix does application delivery, so we did secure application delivery.

The effect was a change in purchasing by coming in a client operation through a different door. Instead of coming in the security door and beating our head against Juniper and Cisco who had really well entrenched buyers because we went through the application door.

The second thing is that we had a much better product. We found if we got into a bake-off we won the taste test. Everybody who tried our product wanted it. All we had to do was get into the taste test. The way we did that was clever, and that takes us back to my first point. Instead of selling through the security buyer we went through the application door. Our potential clients already used Citrix applications to deliver services. We let them deliver them securely. We actually changed the name from VPN to Access Gateway to access the applications security. It worked and it worked really well.

As our business grew Citrix gained in the security channel. There was a lot of pull afterwards. We did 45 units all of Q4 the quarter before we were sold. The next year we did a couple of thousand. Now it is in the multiple thousand units.

SM: What kind of price did you get for the exit?

MT: $50M.

SM: Do you think that Citrix gained more value than you out of that deal?

MT: Absolutely, for a variety of reasons. First, our business was very creative on many levels aside from the pure fiscal value of the product itself. Citrix had a very mature business in application virtualization. We were the first appliance company they bought. With the success they had they bred a whole new set of technologies around selling hardware and that built a whole new set of channels around the hardware. That increased their confidence to the point that they went out and bought NetScaler and Orbital Data. They entered the security markets and changed the positioning of the company from being an application virtualization or thin client to company to being an application delivery company. It was definitely a huge leverage opportunity for them.

This segment is part 3 in the series : Right Technology, Right Time: Opportunistic Ocarina CEO Murli Thirumale
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