Role of IT services firms growing as cloud adoption increases: Rubrik's Bipul Sinha
Cloud data management firm Rubrik was one of the fastest companies in Silicon Valley to become a unicorn (a private company valued at more than $1 billion). It provides data protection and recovery by backing up cloud applications and data for large enterprises while providing analytics on top of the platform. It also provides customised private cloud offerings to maintain the proper allocation of resources.
Its founder Bipul Sinha grew up in Bihar and is an alumnus of IIT Kharagpur. He has worked at IBM and Oracle before becoming a venture capital investor. He also has the distinction of not only founding a unicorn tech company but also finding and funding two other unicorns—Nutanix and Hootsuite.
Since its last funding round of $180 million, Rubrik has grown by leaps and bounds to reach $300 million in annual run rate and also grew its workforce strength from 300 to more than a thousand, of which around 10% is stationed at the research and development centre in Bengaluru. His angel investors included Microsoft chairman John Thompson, ServiceNow chairman Frank Slootman and Veritas founder Mark Leslie.
As cloud adoption grows globally, Sinha believes Indian IT service companies will play an increasingly important role. In an interview with TechCircle, he speaks about the latest product launch, the India centre, listing plans and his role as a partner with venture capital firm Lightspeed Ventures. Edited excerpts:
Could you tell us more about the recent launch of vCloud Director?
Cloud protection is a strategic investment for us and we are constantly innovating to bring products that help us protect the applications that are running on the cloud. Our vCloud Director helps simplify multi-tenant management for cloud service providers, service delivery partners and large enterprises, and the product is serviced mostly out of India. We provide application-level backup instead of virtual machine backup. We are also driving our efforts to help customers to migrate to the cloud, which again is serviced mostly out of India.
What roles does the India office play in Rubrik’s overall operations?
We hope to triple our India headcount in the next 12-18 months and will continue to scale our R&D centre here aggressively. It is not an engineering extension but develops independent products. We have also hired a sales and marketing head for India around nine months ago.
We started with a small office but our growth has exceeded our initial expectation and we have expanded to a larger centre. The product and engineering division is core to our operations here and our goal is to build end-to-end products. We have released several products for the global market from here.
Parallelly, India's growth story and digitisation mean that we need to work on the sales and marketing channel as well. We work with system integrators like Wipro, HCL and others, and an office here helps us engage with them.
Since you work with SIs here in India, do you develop only certain kinds of products from the Bengaluru centre?
Only the California (US) and Bengaluru offices are our development centres and the rest of the offices are largely sales, marketing and support offices. We don't segment what product is built for India or by the centre here. We take our global pool of problems and solve for all the global enterprises. We chose a subset of those problems to be built out of India and all the products are served globally and will have customers all over.
Do you see the role of SIs growing?
Absolutely. With increased cloud adoption, the role of SIs is only going to grow. Now, it is fragmented with some opting for on-premise and some choosing to go on the cloud.
The complexities that arise out of multiple applications running on different data centres and the automation and security infrastructure that the companies are building makes it important to have more partners. Cloud does not give you as many resources as you need and large enterprises need services on top of that. System integrators can co-pilot these initiatives. Large enterprises will still need customisations and somebody needs to build it. While we bring significant simplicity, just automating the infrastructure is becoming a new discipline and the implementation has to be done by the SIs.
Two years ago, Rubrik became a unicorn. What has changed since then?
Actually, we have not raised any funding post that. From 350 employees 12 months ago, we have grown to 1,100 right now. We are hiring 60 people every month and making serious investments. We opened up several new offices in Europe and Asia-Pacific.
When do you plan to list on the stock exchange?
We want to build a company for the next 30-40 years and I believe that longevity is important and public markets will discipline you for you to create a sustainable business model. We will go for an initial public offering depending on the market conditions and our own readiness.
You first invested in Nutanix, one of your most successful bets, while you were with Blumberg Capital and then did a follow-on round when you were with Lightspeed Venture Partners. Are you still actively working with the company?
I stepped down from Nutanix’s board 4-5 months ago. It has been a year since its IPO. As a compliance issue, there is a lot more work that you need to do. In fact, I am cutting down a lot of my other work to focus on Rubrik. I don't do any new investments. Because I sit on the board of some portfolio companies, I continue to be a partner at Lightspeed. Venture firms have a long memory and you cannot exit the job easily.