Two years ago Chris sold his data storage company Cleversafe to IBM for $1.3 billion. Cleversafe was the largest and most strategic object storage vendor in the world. The technology he started generated over 1,000 patents granted or filed, creating one of the ten most powerful patent portfolios in the world.
Prior to Cleversafe, Chris was the Founder and CEO of startups MusicNow and Cruise Technologies, and led product strategy for Zenith Data Systems. He started his career at Martin Marietta, and holds a mechanical engineering degree from MIT.
In This Episode You Will Learn:
- The story of Chris’s senior prank and the lessons around forming a team, have a vision, and setting goals that translate to being an entrepreneur
- The importance of not being too far ahead of the market and how you know if you have the timing right?
- His experience developing a tablet computer 20 years before the iPad
- Why Cleversafe was able to get a multiyear head start on everyone else in the industry
- How storage worked before Cleversafe
- Why Peter Barris, Managing General Partner at New Enterprise Associates, doesn’t think Cleversafe could have happened in Silicon Valley
- How the sale to IBM came about
- Why you want to be bought not sold
- What it was like delivering the news of the sale of Cleversafe to everyone
- The impact on the Chicago ecosystem of the Cleversafe exit minting 80 new millionaires
- How Chris landed his first reference customer for Cleversafe
- How Chicago tech has changed since his first company in geography and scale
- Why we still need a Chicago tech anchor
- Chris's thoughts on Chicago's potential for Amazon HQ2 and what they should be indexing on
- Why Chris requires 5-8 nonstop flights a day to any satellite office location
- Chicago's biggest advantages over Silicon Valley? talent cost and talent retention
- The similarities between being a founder and a poker player
- Why you have to put yourself in a position to realize your ambition
- What Chris focuses on? Building the team, raising money, and building a pipeline of customer information and feedback into the company
- The similarities between being a founder and a journalist
- Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
- The Codebreakers: The Comprehensive History of Secret Communication from Ancient Times to the Internet by David Kahn
- Bevy: a Chicago startup delivering everything you need, but don’t want to own, for amazing experiences. Own Less. Live More.