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GreyMatter November 19, 2015

How Pure Storage Took A Different Approach to Storage

Founded in 2009, Pure Storage entered an industry where incumbents, including EMC and HP, dominated for more than thirty years. Co-founders John “Coz” Colgrove and John Hayes knew that they would have to take a different approach to building and running a storage company if they were going to effectively compete with the massive incumbent players.

To rethink storage, Coz and Hayes knew early on that they would need to start from a clean slate. They hired engineers from consumer companies who had little to no experience in storage so they could approach the problem without any biases. Says Coz: “If you don’t know how something’s been done, you take the problem and you solve it. And you don’t think about how other people solved it.” They ended up with a technical team filled with diverse skill sets and different ways of thinking about building products.

When it came time to bring on someone to help scale their business, the two thought about what kind of leader they were looking for. “We didn’t want a figurehead” remembers Coz. They needed someone who could be a recruiting magnet and a great culture fit, but also contribute to the product. Scott Deitzen has both the business acumen and technical chops to contribute to the operations and engineering side.

As they continued to grow, Coz and Hayes wanted to make sure that the teams were still focused on innovation. Unlike traditional R&D labs and “skunkworks” projects, Pure Storage has a dedicated internal “startup within a startup” that works on products with the intention that they that will be shipped to customers, not remain purely research projects. This team works in conjunction with the main product team to help continuously innovate on current and upcoming products. “Our stance is that you can do innovation on a product line.” says Hayes.