VMware CTO Steve Herrod is leaving his post to join venture capital firm General Catalyst Partners, where he’ll be managing director. Herrod had been with VMware since since 2001 and oversaw — from a technology perspective, at least — the company’s transition from a server virtualization vendor into one of the loudest voices for data center transformation via cloud computing and automation.
I think this is a big loss for VMware, which has already been hemorrhaging technical talent to younger, nimbler companies (and CIO Mark Egan left in December). But even as VMware grew older and more staid, Herrod always seemed to push the envelope. SpringSource, Cloud Foundry, Project Serengeti, software-defined data centers — all of these are bets on a future of application development and data center management — things that don’t pay VMware’s bills today.
Now, former CEO Paul Maritz is heading the Pivotal Initiative (essentially a mix of the cloud and data business lines from VMware and parent company EMC), and former EMC exec Pat Gelsinger took Martiz’s role at VMware. With VMware narrowing its focus back to servers and virtualization, it’s possible there isn’t too much room for innovation within Herrod’s old company.
Getting into the VC space, of course, means Herrod can spend a lot more time trying to shape the future by finding, supporting and financing the new companies trying to carry VMware’s initial vision into the next generation.