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Growing A SaaS Startup With Velocity: Marketo CEO Phil Fernandez (Part 2)

Posted on Saturday, May 21st 2011

Sramana: Where does the story go from there?

Phil Fernandez: After that I got hooked up with a company that is now TIBCO. Back then it was an incubator called Technicron Software Systems. Rick Haven was the chief operating officer, and he was my mentor. He is also the person who hired me at Masstor and set me on my career projection. He brought me into Technicron.

I spent a year in New York working on the trading floor for Goldman Sachs. Technicron was building a next generation trading system for Goldman. Jo-Mei Chang and Dale Skeen went on to found Vitria, which became a competitor. There were incredible politics between the leadership and Jo-Mei and Dale. I decided that all those politics were too weird for me, so I left and went to Metaphor.

Metaphor was founded by Don Massaro and Dale Liddle. They were both Xerox Park guys. They founded Metaphor, which was the first company to use Ethernet. It was the first company to have a bitmap graphics workstation for under $10,000 and the first company to have a SQL database in production use. It was a very interesting company.

I ended up running a project called PatrioPartners. IBM had invested $100 million in the company to reinvent software. It was during the days when IBM and Microsoft were at war. What we did at Metaphor was the IBM contribution to Telligent. I led that project for Metaphor. It was another hot venture-backed company which had a great outcome with the sale to IBM.

After that I lucked into another company called Red Brick Systems. That company had five people in Los Gatos who were building data warehousing. We built that business and raised money from Alloy and Menlo Ventures. It was a great run and one of the top IPO ventures of 1996. That company was ultimately acquired by IBM, and parts of it are still alive and well. That was my first executive experience where we took the company public. I was the chief operating officer. Those were really good days.

In 1999 I joined Epiphany, and it was a classic bubble company. They went public in September 1999 with less revenue than my company has today. I was employee number 30 there and was chief operating officer for most of the run. We grew from 30 employees to 1,500 in nine months because we bought 13 companies. I ended up dealing with a lot of M&A of technology companies. We sold that company to SSA Global and it is now part of Infor where, oddly enough, Chuck Phillips is running the show and bringing it back to life. He has been a good friend of Epiphany for a long time.

In one way or another, everything I did at all of those companies was involved in marketing and sales. That all came together in 1996 when we founded Marketo.

This segment is part 2 in the series : Growing A SaaS Startup With Velocity: Marketo CEO Phil Fernandez
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