Renen Hallak
Founder & CEO
VAST Data

(5.0)
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  1. Since founding VAST Data in 2016 Renen Hallak has been on a mission to build the next great infrastructure company. Starting with storage and specifically breaking the trade-off between capacity and performance, Renen led the VAST team to achieve several notable milestones, including: $83M Series D funding in May 2021 led by Tiger Global Management, at a post-money valuation of $3.7B. Establishing VAST as one of the world’s most valuable startups and propelling VAST into an elite category of technology companies that also includes breakout successes such as Databricks, Snowflake and UIPath (all of whom are also Tiger portfolio companies). Record growth in FY2021, surpassing a $150M annual run rate in less than two years since launching Universal Storage. VAST Data’s business model has uniquely combined breakthrough levels of revenue growth with unparalleled cash efficiency. When combining an average selling price of $1M and VAST’s net revenue expansion with customers, the VAST go-to-market model results in higher revenue with fewer resources. This enables the company to focus on growth and serving its customers indefinitely without concern for additional capital raises. Stepping out of the hardware business in April 2021 by launching Gemini, which disaggregates the business of hardware and software, allowing VAST to sell managed software on hardware that customers can buy at cost as integrated appliances that ship directly from the manufacturer. Much of VAST’s success can be attributed to Renen’s leadership. Since VAST’s inception, Renen has demonstrated what it takes to build a scalable, successful business – even in the midst of a pandemic. One of Renen’s greatest strengths is being able to foster a culture of innovation amongst employees. By encouraging employees to think of the company as their own, Renen is able to provide employees with an opportunity to share directly in the company’s success through stock options. This encourages employees to feel motivated and productive because they actually own a vested interest. To put it simply, the more people think of a company as their own, the more they do what is right for the organization. When everyone has skin in the game, you can create a culture based on the collective good and eliminate individual interests and agendas that take away from overall company health — something Renen has been quite good at. Honesty and transparency have allowed Renen to not only create a positive company culture, but also to solidify employee loyalty and engagement. Known for acting with transparency, Renen has done an excellent job at making sure employees are kept in the loop regarding matters of the company, big or small. In fact, VAST employees have access to all of a company’s information including board decks and financials. As boring as they may be, Renen encourages the team to attend board meetings and voice their concerns or opinions. Furthermore, Renen has created a distributed decision making framework that has empowered employees to voice opinions, whether in their scope or not. When starting VAST, Renen’s overarching goal was to work with people who like and know how to build things from the ground up. Renen has an eye for hiring a group of people with common values and a diverse set of backgrounds. Most important to Renen, is a workforce with diversity of experience, diversity of thought, as well a diverse set of skills and characteristics. Since 2016, Renen has brought together a group of people who think differently, enabling VAST to benefit from the various advantages that each individual brings. Many startups talk about high growth in percentage terms, but the ones who actually are selling meaningful amounts of infrastructure shift their narrative to revenues and bookings dollars as they cross specific milestones. That’s the mantra Renen has embodied with VAST. With a clear, near-time path to becoming cash-flow positive, Renen has led the company to superlinear growth. This includes a year over year bookings revenue growth of 350% and exiting 2020 cash flow positive ($150M booking run fate), setting the foundation for long term independence. Renen has managed to maintain a sharp focus when building up VAST’s success. With so much going on at the startup level, focus has been a main strength of Renen’s. Recognizing what not to spend time on, Renen has been able to make intentional decisions about the opportunities at hand and have a deeper understanding of VAST’s customer base. While there’s no magic formula that will guarantee the type of growth VAST has experienced thus far, Renen has been able to leverage his key strengths and build the right kind of unicorn. Additionally, Renen remains steadfast on the aspects of his business that he can control which includes investing in the right people that will stand behind your company, and building a culture around trust and transparency.

    Staff, submitted on

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