The Bet-the-Company Pivot That Led to Nimble Storage’s IPO

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In July 2009, Varun Mehta—a first-time founder—was driving toward a courageous decision: giving up a sure success for a long shot at disrupting a major category.

Nimble Storage, the company he started 18 months earlier with Umesh Maheshwari, was testing its product, a flash-based caching appliance, or “cacher,” that sat on top of existing storage systems and dramatically improved I/O performance. Beta customers loved the cacher and it looked like a hit. Shockingly, Varun and Umesh wanted to kill it. Instead, they proposed building a primary-storage system that incorporated flash, a much bigger opportunity, but a far riskier one.

Drew and Bryan on Leadership, Hiring and the Future of Dropbox

We met Drew and Arash from Dropbox six years ago in a small apartment in San Francisco. The product hadn’t launched yet and they were the only employees. 

Today, the company has more than 100 million users. 

Recently, Drew and Bryan Schreier, who represents Sequoia on the Dropbox board, sat down for a joint interview with Leena Rao of TechCrunch. It was published last week in three parts, which we’ve included here.  

Part one. Drew reveals how he learned what to expect from top executives and how the company’s momentum helps attract talent. Bryan describes how hiring has changed since Google’s early days. 

Part two.  Drew discusses why he likes to stay on the edge of his comfort zone and the importance of  anticipating the new skills he’ll need at least six months in advance. Bryan discloses Dropbox’s original code name. View on TechCrunch.

Part three. Bryan and Drew talk about companies that seem to be focused solely on consumers and why they are often the ones best positioned to target businesses. View on TechCrunch.

“If you don’t like change, you’re going to really hate being irrelevant.”

Todd Cozzens at MITEF

Mike Goguen at Wharton on where we are and where we’re going.

Immigration Reform: Stop Ejecting the Brightest Minds From America

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Let’s hope Congress does not flinch as it begins the debate about immigration reform because the future is passing through security – in the wrong direction. It leaves the United States on every departing airplane carrying a foreign born student who has graduated from an American university with an advanced degree in the sciences, technology, engineering and math. The majority of these people want to stay in the United States but because of existing immigration laws, they have no choice but to leave.

In Silicon Valley, which has always been blind to any attribute other than ability, everyone knows that the remarkable achievements of the foreign born have led to the formation of companies such as Google, Intel, Sun Microsystems, nVidia, Yahoo! PayPal and scores of others that are less well known. Of the last eleven early stage companies that have allied themselves with Sequoia Capital, seven have had immigrants among their founding lineup. This is not a sudden or recent phenomenon; it has been the leitmotif of our business since the 1970s. However, the number of startups would be even higher if we weren’t ejecting foreign-born students and if we welcomed their contemporaries who have been educated overseas. Today, it is impossible to satisfy Silicon Valley’s appetite for engineers and scientists with people born in America.

“Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

Doug Leone on startup life