Photo: Julie Bort/Business Insider
Chuck Dietrich is the CEO of SlideRocket, one of a pair of unusual companies bought by VMware in the spring of 2011. In short, he’s living the Silicon Valley dream with a charmed career.
The short version is this: Do a startup after college, sell it for a lot (a massaging hairbrush, sold to Conair). Go to grad school (University of Utah—close to skiing). Be an intern for a guy who will go on to become a famous billionaire (Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff, back when he was at Oracle). Be among the first employees at the billionaire’s startup (Employee No. 50 at Salesforce). Spend 9 years building that startup to be huge. Leave to launch another startup (SlideRocket). Sell that for lots of money (to VMware for an undisclosed sum). Stay on to help the acquiring company build up in a new area.
Dietrich’s epic journey has worked out even though SlideRocket seems an odd fit for VMware. VMware makes software that helps servers run more efficiently in data centres. SlideRocket is a cloud service that makes interactive business presentations, kind of like PowerPoint on steroids.
“We were trying to reinvent productivity apps,” Dietrich told Business Insider.
It came into VMware’s hands when SlideRocket was raising a Series B round. The VC asked VMware’s Richard McAniff to check out the company because McAniff had run Microsoft’s Office division before joining VMware. Instead, McAniff told Paul Maritz, then VMware’s CEO, to buy the company, Dietrich recalls.
About a month later, VMware bought Socialcast, too. Socialcast is a Yammer-like tool for enterprise collaboration.
Together, Dietrich and Socialcast cofounder Tim Young (who’s had another Silicon Valley dream career) are helping VMware push itself into a whole new area: enterprise applications.
And it’s working, according to Dietrich. VMware’s Socialcast unit, which includes SlideRocket, has 20,000 customers for these apps. It’s growing those customers at 300% a year and increasing revenue at a 350% annual clip. And that’s before VMware’s 50,000 resellers start selling the apps, which should boost sales further.