Fusion-io, the fast-growing maker of flash memory accelerator cards for data centers, has named former HP chief strategy and technology officer as its new CEO.
Robison replaces longtime CEO David Flynn, who, along with co-founder and chief marketing Rick White, is resigning to pursue entrepreneurial investing activities. Both Flynn and White will remain on the board and serve as advisors for the next year.
Robison, 59, has more than 30 years of experience in senior business management and product development roles. He has worked at AT&T Labs, Cadence Design Systems, Apple, Compaq, and HP. He was most recently executive vice president and chief strategy and technology officer of HP from May 2002 to November 2011. Robison was sometimes mentioned as a candidate to be CEO, but he left shortly after Meg Whitman was named CEO of HP in September 2011.
“The company has built a lot of momentum,” Robison said in an interview. “It is an interesting spot to be in. We are focused on growth and expanding into new markets.”
Robison had a big ranch in Utah, and it’s no surprise that Fusion-io is based in Salt Lake City. Fusion-io grew quickly and went public on the strength of its business of using flash memory chips on circuit cards to accelerate virtualization, databases, cloud computing, big data, and performance applications in the data center. The Fusion ioMemory platform just got some new competition from hard disk drive maker Seagate yesterday. The stock market is not taking the change well: Fusion-io shares are down 25 percent to $13.42 today.
“Shane Robison is a proven executive with the experience and expertise to lead Fusion-io as we enter our next phase of growth and development,” said Scott Sandell, lead independent director of the Fusion-io Board. “Over the course of his career, Shane has demonstrated an ability to develop the critical corporate strategies to help innovative companies scale and grow globally. Shane’s understanding of our business, significant international experience, and deep industry and partner relationships make him ideally suited to lead Fusion-io as we seek to accelerate the company’s strategic and financial goals to enhance shareholder value.”
“I am honored to lead Fusion-io through its next chapter of growth,” said Mr. Robison, in a statement. “Fusion-io has long been recognized for its visionary technology, and I look forward to working closely with the company’s talented team as we continue to develop the critical technology that we all rely on to deliver the world’s data faster. As the use of data grows, IT professionals need more effective and efficient ways to power their business-critical applications. Fusion-io has an incredible opportunity to continue to transform the software defined storage industry. Our customer relationships are strong, and working with the company’s exceptional management team, I am excited to lead Fusion-io.”
In the interview, Robison acknowledged that the change was sudden, but the board has been addressing strategic issues for a while. He said the company has a lot of competition, but it has to expand into new markets and innovate fast. Fusion-io has 850 employees.
“On behalf of the Board and entire Fusion-io team, I want to thank David and Rick for their significant contributions to the creation, development and growth of the company,” said Mr. Sandell. “David and Rick’s vision as co-founders has redefined memory technology and had a profound impact on our industry. Under their leadership, Fusion-io has developed into one of the world’s leading technology companies, helping businesses increase datacenter efficiency. They played an important role in taking the company public and developing a strong framework from which Fusion-io can grow to the next level.”
The company said the announcements are not related to “any issues regarding the integrity of the company’s financial statements or accounting policies and practices.” Fusion-io also reaffirmed the financial outlook for the fiscal fourth quarter of 2013. Revenue is expected to be about $110 million and the operating loss is expected to be $5 million. For the full year, revenue is expected to be $435 million and operating margin on a non-GAAP basis is expected to be 9.5 percent.
Robison has an easy-going personality and a cowboy’s demeanor. He holds computer science degrees from the University of Utah. Robison, along with former CEO Léo Apotheker, got some of the blame for HP’s horrible acquisition of software firm Autonomy.
“I”m a believer in everything as a service,” Robison said. “That is the correct vision. People are going to access computing on the software and services model, and we are at the heart of making that work. The trends are all about mobility and service-based models, where you can get information anytime and anywhere. This is the chance to leverage my 30 years of experience in this.”