Zvi Guterman, CEO at CloudShare, refused to let his company be shut down, so he bought it.
The gamble involved the pain of virtually jettisoning his staff in order to start regrowth on a smaller scale, but it has been paying off. The specialty cloud provider is not only on the comeback trail, but is eyeing expansion.
Since its inception in 2007 and through 2014, CloudShare raised more than $26 million in venture capital funding from investors like Sequoia Capital. But when a deal to sell the company fell through and CloudShare faced an immediate need for more capital to fuel growth, the board decided instead to close the company.
“I strongly disagreed with the decision,” Guterman told FierceCEO. “I believed we had a lot to offer and saw the potential of the cloud.”
Specialty cloud was just beginning to take off in 2014, and “CloudShare had a solution that addressed areas of increasing demand, enabling IT to quickly set up environments for training, sales demos and test/development,” Guterman said.
So, Guterman, who was a co-founder, negotiated and bought the company back.
He had to lay off three-quarters of the staff, bringing it down to just 14 people, mostly engineers and two salespeople.
“It was a painful decision,” Guterman said, but with much less overhead and a renewed focus on product, just one quarter later, CloudShare was marginally profitable.
One big plus, he said, was that the company was able to keep all of its customers. And now, CloudShare has 40 employees and revenues have grown 150% to the double-digit millions, Guterman said.
It also has data centers in Asia, Europe and North America and plans to open three more, in China, India and Australia, in the next 18 months.
CloudShare is also building partnerships with companies in effort to grow faster.
The secret to CloudShare’s success is cutting overhead way down and sharing more equity with those that remained so they were more engaged, keeping up the quality of the product and adding more features, Guterman said.
But there are challenges as CloudShare is turning its corner. “We’re still a small player in a crowded domain,” Guterman said. “We have to stand out and differentiate ourselves.”
And he is hiring again and says it’s hard to compete.
The most rewarding thing about his CloudShare experience? “Proving to myself it’s possible to take a company that is not in its best moment and turn it 180 degrees,” Guterman said.
Fast Five with Zvi Guterman
When did you know you wanted to be a CEO?
I was into technology and found out I was passionate about people and the business side and realized I wanted to be a leader.
What is your favorite question to ask in a job interview?
I like to hear people talk about a mistake they made. It tells me the way they think and what they are willing to admit.
Where do you find new opportunities for revenue?
We talk to customers and prospects.
On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 lowest and 10 highest) how much of a priority do you place on the following things at your company: people, process and technology?
How do you motivate employees?
Giving them great visibility into the big picture.