SCOTTS VALLEY — Virtual Instruments, a rapidly growing technology startup in the storage area network industry, has landed Silicon Valley veteran executive John Thompson, formerly head of Symantec Corp., to lead the company into its next phase of growth.
Thompson, 61, replaces Mark Urdahl, 48, who launched the company nearly two years ago and is an early investor. Urdahl will continue to be actively involved, according to Len Rosenthal, vice president of marketing.
“The question was, Who’s the right guy to lead it going forward?'” Rosenthal said. “John was obviously an outstanding candidate.”
Thompson has served on the board of directors of Virtual Instruments since last year, is an early investor and currently serves as chairman of the board of directors of Symantec Corp. where he served as chief executive officer for 10 years. He retired from handling the day-to-day management of Symantec in April 2009. He was out of the country Friday and unavailable for comment.
“We are thrilled to welcome John Thompson as CEO,” said Jim Davidson, who serves as a director for the company. Davidson is also co-chief executive officer of Silver Lake Partners, which provided seed funding for Virtual Instruments. Davidson noted Virtual Instruments’ annual growth rate of 100 percent last year, which is expected to be repeated this year.
“Virtual Instruments is very fortunate to be able to leverage John’s proven leadership, tremendous industry experience and deep understanding of the needs of enterprise customers,” he said.
Virtual Instruments makes software and hardware that monitors problems in data center systems used by global companies to handle huge amounts of data. The company, which had a head count of about 60 just two months ago, currently employs about 70 people and is expected to add an additional 10 positions by its two-year anniversary in June.
For Thompson, whose entire career has included 28 years at IBM followed by 10 at the helm of Symantec Corp., the new job provides a unique opportunity to lead a small startup, Rosenthal said. In addition to heading up the board of directors for Symantec, Thompson serves on the corporate boards of UPS, Seagate Technology and JovianDATA. He also serves on the national board of Teach for America and served on the National Infrastructure Advisory Committee advising on national infrastructure security issues and the Silicon Valley Blue Ribbon Task Force on Aviation Security and Technology. Last year, it was reported that he was shortlisted for the commerce secretary slot in the new Obama administration. He did not get that job but he was appointed last year to serve on a Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, created by Congress to investigate the nation’s economic troubles. He has 451 fans on his Facebook fan page.
“Successfully applying virtualization to business-critical applications remains a tremendous IT challenge,” Thompson said in a statement posted on the company website. “I am truly excited to join an exceptionally talented team that has created a breakthrough solution for providing deep visibility into virtualized infrastructure.”
Virtual Instruments, a private equity spinoff from the optical communications firm Finisar, has been working to grow sales both domestically and abroad. Partners include IBM, HP, Dell and Hitachi Data Systems, among others. Customers include Barclay’s Card Services, Kaiser Permanente, Lloyd’s Bank and Unilever.
“We envision high growth,” Rosenthal said. “We’re trying to grow the company as fast and as economically efficiently as we can.”
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