The CEO Of This Hot Enterprise Startup Once Tried To Kill Saddam Hussein

SimpliVity CEO Doron KempelVimeo/JukuDoron Kempel, CEO, SimpliVity

If enterprise startup SimpliVity isn’t on your radar yet, put it there now. On Monday the company raised a huge $US58 million round of investment for its “data center in a box.”

That makes $101 million raised to date.

SimpliVity makes an all-in-one hardware box that combines server, storage and networking into one device. It’s not a unique idea. Its main rival is another startup Nutanix (also well funded with $US71 million raised). The concept was pioneered by Cisco in partnership with EMC/VMware and their VCE subsidiary. IBM, HP sell similar boxes as well.

SimpliVity claims to be cheaper and easier to install than its competitors. That kind of simplicity is winning over enterprise customers, its investors say.

But there’s another interesting reason to know this Westborough, Mass.-based company.

Founder and CEO Doron Kempel was once part of an elite Israeli special forces unit charged with killing Saddam Hussein. Kempel led a team of 30 soldiers who trained for six months for the secret mission, he told Forbes’ Nathan Vardi. It was 1992, more than a decade before the U.S. would invade Iraq. Obviously, the mission didn’t succeed. Five solders were killed in the attempt.

That forever altered Kempel’s life. He moved to the U.S., worked for EMC until launching his first startup, Diligent Technologies, which he sold to IBM in 2008 for an estimated $US165 million and $US200 million. In 2009, he turned around and started SimpliVity.

In between all that, he racked up law and philosophy degrees from Tel Aviv University and an MBA from Harvard.

This new round of funding was led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers’ Digital Growth Fund and Draper Fisher Jurvetso with participation by Accel Partners and Charles River Venture

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