Sramana Mitra: You have done this strategy in a textbook case study way. How many verticals and how many use cases have you gone after? What was the sequence of how you layered these different use cases along each of those use cases?
Lior Gal: There is some strategy and tactical work. For us, the end goal was to build the product that scales to any scale. One day, it will be a service offering on all platforms.
We had to put emphasis on figuring out a way to win the scalers. Those guys are not a use case; it’s more about becoming an infrastructure decision for them. If they buy 10,000 servers a quarter, how do I convince them that our software just goes on those servers by default?
It’s a different strategy. In the end, they are using it for use cases. It’s convincing them that this is the building block to build it. You asked about use cases. Use cases are more driven in places where people are buying a very well-defined solution for a specific problem.
We didn’t want to exceed five, and most of the efforts were in three of those use cases. We went after the low-hanging fruit. One, databases. That was a priority. The second one was HPS use cases. HPC requires high performance and we have the fastest-growth storage.
The third one was AI-driven use cases because AI companies and AI use cases are like mushrooms after the rain. It was looking at where we wanted to be as a company and win those use cases even if it’s easier to put your efforts in places where it’s easier to sell. I wasn’t looking to make it easy; I was looking to make it a profitable business. That’s the decision point.
Sramana Mitra: What kind of scaling trajectory did you see with this strategy?
Lior Gal: If you’re smart enough or lucky enough to have an OEM partner or a solution integrator, then from three to 20 is almost a smooth transaction. If I look at CMA, the first system with the first customer had a lot of handholding. Now moving forward, they are just doing it. Nothing is that simple, but it must move to the other side.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s switch a little bit on executing on your strategy. Talk to me about the team. How did you structure your team and what were some of the salient strategic team issues that you have implemented?
Lior Gal: If you’re working in a world where you’re chasing web-scale customers and winning a customer can be a magnitude of seven-figure deals, it’s okay to plan down where you hire a small number of people but who are extremely qualified. You send them out to these big projects.
That’s where we are on that front. It’s small teams of very smart and technical people that are incentivized to work overtime even if it takes them two years to win the projects.
I have companies in the past where a product is a $50,000 transaction and you need to get as many transactions as possible. In the end, a sales guy will do $1.5 million, then you need to hire 20 salespeople for growth. We are more strategic and our deals are bigger.
On the other side of the solution integrators, it’s actually the same. If you onboard Lenovo and you invest to make them successful, then you need a team working with Lenovo. It might end up with six figures, but they will have many transactions that a team needs to manage. That’s how I structured our team on the business side.
Engineering is a different ball game. 80% of the company are engineers. Innovation is everywhere. The biggest challenge is that my team is everywhere. We have business in the USA, Europe, and Asia Pac. We have engineering in Israel. Putting people on the same page and getting people to be accountable for stuff happening everywhere is an ongoing challenge.
Sramana Mitra: Where are you now by way of revenues? What is your trajectory to an IPO? Is that where you’re going?
Lior Gal: I’ll share what was shared in the press. Last year, we announced that we did 4x year over year. Our objective is to do that every year. Of course, the bigger you get, the harder it becomes. We are looking at growth quarter by quarter.
We’re looking at analyzing our future to how soon do we want to be cash-positive, or just continue to grow and innovate. We’re not really looking at an IPO. It’s not because it’s not something we want to do. It’s too early to discuss that. It’s more about strategy and betting on innovation.
Sramana Mitra: Great. Thank you for taking the time.