Former VMware chief operating officer Sanjay Poonen is joining backup software startup Cohesity as its new chief executive. After eight successful years with VMware, Poonen joins the startup as it prepares to challenge rivals like Dell—and possibly pursue an IPO. The industry veteran was recruited directly by Cohesity’s founder and former CEO, Mohit Aron, as he plans to scale back his role to advising tech and engineering as Chief Technology and Product Officer.
Poonen, who left VMware in 2021, has spent his interim time serving as a board member with the cybersecurity unicorn Snyk and Dutch conglomerate Philips. Now he joins Cohesity, a company he sees as having nothing but upside ahead. With high demand for secure and reliable backup solutions, the company is well-suited as an alternative to Dell, IBM, and Veritas.
In 2020, Cohesity eclipsed unicorn status as it was valued at $2.5 billion, after which it confidentially filed for an IPO—although Poonen doesn’t have a timeline for a share sale. The company has enticed major investors including Amazon, Cisco, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Sequoia Capital.
The new CEO boasts more than 30 years of experience as an engineer, executive, and advisor. Before joining VMware, he was a corporate officer and president of SAP.