Fusion.io’s new CEO, Shane Robison, wined and dined Wall Street analysts last night.
He was there to explain why the company’s two cofounders David Flynn (CEO) and Rick White (CMO) suddenly left the company last week.
Robison was previously Hewlett-Packard’s chief strategy officer. HP CEO Meg Whitman publicly blamed Robison for HP’s disastrous acquisition of Autonomy. Robison left HP in Oct. 2011, shortly after Whitman took over as CEO and he Autonomy deal closed.
After meeting Robison at a reception in New York last night, three analysts issued research notes that discussed the management change.
Fusion-io’s board had been discussing a management change for about six months, the analysts were told.
The board was concerned that Flynn’s leadership couldn’t satisfy their “ambitions to scale to a billion dollar plus revenue,” explained Lazard Capital Markets’ analyst Edward Parker. The board felt they needed a CEO with “more operational experience,” Parker wrote in his note.
Fusion-io is one of the biggest companies that makes enterprise storage systems built on flash technology, the same storage that powers your smartphones and thumb drives.
There’s another twist to the decision, Merrill Lynch’s analyst Scott Craig noted. About five months ago, when the board started getting nervous, Fusion-io admitted publicly that it was relying heavily on just two customers: Facebook and Apple. They accounted for about 50% of revenues, and both companies said they had plenty of flash storage and would buy less in the future.
Fusion-io’s third biggest customer is Robison’s alma matter, HP, CFO Dennis Wolf said at the time as reported by ZDNet’s Larry Dignan in January. Despite taking the fall for Autonomy, Robison is still well respected at HP and his relationship there is a plus for Fusion-io.
Still, questions remain.
“Overall, the tone of questions to management seemed to be still ‘looking for answers’, although we came away positive,” wrote Merrill Lynch’s Craig.
We reached out to White for comment.