Internal email at the company Dell is buying for $67 billion shows fear of a 'Blackberry moment'


Newly surfaced emails from some of EMC’s executives suggest the company was worried about a “Blackberry moment” in 2014, well before Dell agreed to buy it for $67 billion last October.

EMC has long been the leader in the data storage business. But the rise of new technologies like flash storage and upstarts like Pure Storage have cut into its growth.

In response, EMC acquired the flash storage company XtremIO for $430 million in 2012.

And now some emails have come to light showing how scared some folks at EMC were.

“This is truly our Blackberry moment and we need to be ultra aggressive around XtremIO at this exact moment because we have an 18-month window to win this war,” Michael Wing, EMC’s SVP of Primary Storage, wrote in an email in July 2014.

The email, submitted as part of a lawsuit against Pure Storage that wrapped this week, show Wing urging other EMC executives to put more support behind XtremIO, and move away from its more legacy products, like Symmetrix and VNX.

“We have 30% market share in today’s world, but we have the opportunity for 70% market share in tomorrow’s world,” Wing wrote. “My question is, why aren’t we running as fast as we can to tomorrow??”

Roughly 18 months have passed since that email, and in the meantime Dell entered a deal to buy EMC for a whopping %67 billion.

But the battle between EMC and Pure Storage is still very much on-going. Although EMC’s revenue from XtremIO is more than double Pure Storage’s, Gartner has put Pure Storage ahead in its Magic Quadrant chart.

In fact, according one of the emails, EMC even contemplated acquiring Pure Storage internally.

“Bottom line is, if we want to dominate this massive move towards all flash, we likely have to acquire [Pure Storage] as we’ve discussed and it becomes our mid-tier flash solution and ExtremIO is our enterprise class version,” Wing wrote in an another email sent in February 2014.

Those talks never materialised into a deal. Pure Storage is now public and continues to see its revenue grow, expanding 2.5 times year-over-year to $440 million last year. XtremIO says it saw “triple digit growth” for over $1 billion in revenue last year, accoridng to its annual filings.

In any case, there’s no love lost between the two companies. EMC sued Pure Storage for 5 cases of patent infringement and over $80 million in damages in 2013. The verdict from this week awarded EMC $14 million on a single patent infringement case.

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