Austin’s Pivot3 Taps Board Chairman, Tech Vet, As New CEO

Ron Nash, the newly appointed CEO for Austin’s Pivot3, brings with him a particularly intimate familiarity with the data storage company’s operations: He has been its chairman of the board.

“We’re making the transition between startup and being a small company,” he says. “This is a time when the company should have a breakout period.”

Founded in 2003, Pivot3 sells hardware and software in the video surveillance and desktop virtualization markets and claims more than 600 customers in industries such as casinos, correctional departments, and aviation authorities. The company recently raised $14 million in venture capital, bringing its total funding to just over $100 million (see below for more on the round). Nash says the new funding will be used to make hires and support potential new business partnerships.

Most of Pivot3’s revenues are made in the video surveillance market but it is now growing its production and sales in the virtual desktop arena, something that requires a shift in management and operations. “We’re going from a single-product company, a single-market company, to a dual product, dual market company,” Nash says. “In virtual surveillance, it’s more direct sales. Virtual desktop needs a two or three-level channel sales model.”

Some different capabilities are needed to excel in both, he added.

Nash, a tech veteran who had leadership positions at EDS and Perot Systems in Dallas, says he believes he has the right mix of insider knowledge of Pivot3 and external experience in the technology industry to help the Austin company execute smoothly on its growth possibilities.

“One of the things in startups, you have to be a real optimist, glass-half-full, kind of person,” Nash says. “And with that attitude, what’s so hard to do is turn down something. It turns out that what’s so crucial in founding the company is almost a negative at this stage. It’s so hard for that personality to discipline itself.”

Since April, there has been a bit of musical chairs in Pivot3’s executive suite. Nash, who has been a board member since 2005, replaces Bill Galloway, a Pivot3 co-founder who had been acting as CEO since April when Rich Bravman, who had led the company since November 2011, announced he was leaving. Galloway now resumes his previous CTO role. The other co-founder, Lee Caswell, who had served as CEO from 2005 to 2007, left the firm in August to join Fusion-io in Salt Lake City.

With the new management team in place, Nash says he will focus on ensuring that Pivot3 expands its customer base in a sound fashion. “You don’t want to choke off all the initiative, but we need to strike the balance between how much discipline and how much freedom,” Nash says.

Galloway and Caswell, former Compaq engineers, launched Pivot3 in the north Houston suburb of Spring, TX. The company still has employees based there, but calls Austin its home.

The latest funding round came from a syndicate of investors that included Focus Ventures in Palo Alto, Mesirow Financial Capital Partners in Chicago, and InterWest Partners in Menlo Park. In fact, Nash first came to Pivot3 as a partner with InterWest Partners, which he had joined in 2000.

“My background is a little bit schizophrenic,” Nash says. “I have giant company experience and small company experience, from one to the other, and back and forth.”

In addition to stints with EDS and Perot, Nash founded three technology startups, providing him with the full breadth of experience, he says. “I IPO’d one, sold one, and one failed,” he says.

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