It’s been a big week for Lightspeed portfolio company Rubrik — $3.3B and growing in valuation…
Bipul and his team have delivered a transformative enterprise product in record time and we’re proud to have participated in the company’s latest Series E round of financing.
But we’re even prouder to have led their Series A back in 2015. As Bipul told TechCrunch this week, his goal from the beginning of the journey has been “to build a long-term, iconic company,” and it’s been nothing short of thrilling to partner with them on that journey.
I interviewed Bipul last summer at our Lightspeed Leading Lights event in San Francisco. Given the big week for the company, I thought I’d resurface some of that conversation here.
From the evolution and future of Rubrik, to unique insights into Bipul’s leadership style, we cover a lot of ground. Read on below for more, and congrats again to the Rubrik team.
Q&A with Bipul Sinha, CEO & Co-Founder of Rubrik, and Ravi Mhatre, Lightspeed Partner.
Ravi: How has being a VC influenced your approach to being a CEO?
Bipul: 90% of VCs don’t know what they’re doing. It’s critical to find a partner who understands the space and can help you think big.
Ravi: Let’s take a step back. Can you tell us more about Rubrik’s work and mission?
Bipul: Rubrik delivers instant application availability to hybrid cloud enterprises for backup, recovery, search, cloud, & development. Our mission is to simplify how businesses around the world keep and use their data. Our goal is to build the next 20–30–40 year public company. We’re growing fast and thoughtfully. We’ve built the right leadership team and are focused on the people aspect of the business, which has served us well.
Ravi: How did you find a product-market fit? How did you find early customers?
Bipul: When you start a company you need to have a thesis with a unique perspective about the market. But the source of truth is with the customer. You need to understand the customer’s pain and you need to understand how they perceive your product. Before we actually hired our first sales team, I had made 60 unique customer calls. You have to sell to believers in the early days.
Ravi: How do you differentiate from your competitors?
Bipul: We’ve helped create a new market, bringing a fresh approach to a $50B market that hadn’t seen innovation in 10 years. When a new market is created, it attracts competition and big dollars. We’re proud to be the leading player in the space.
Ravi: The arc for Rubrik is unlike anything we’ve ever seen in enterprise. You have a growth mindset. How do you think about growth?
Bipul: Many companies that I observed when I was a VC all had one key problem holding them back: nobody was actually making decisions. People were too terrified of a negative outcome. That creates a lack of an accountability within an organization and slows everyone down. While many startups boast that they can move fast, there are few that actually do. And in order to move fast, you need to be informed. That’s where transparency comes in.
Ravi: Rubrik has made headlines for its “radically transparent” culture. Is it true that you invite the entire company (1200+ people) to your board meetings?
Bipul: Everyone — from junior level employees to senior leadership — is invited to attend the meeting via phone or in person. We welcome any employee to ask clarifying questions about where the business is going or ask a board member a question. In our view, encouraging management to show vulnerability and tackle uncomfortable questions makes for a better culture and better managers. The tone of these meetings isn’t “how do we make board members happy,” but rather, “how do we build a long-lasting company?”
Ravi: What’s the thinking behind that? Has it ever backfired?
Bipul: Companies — large and small — suffer from poor information flow and lack of trust. Most employees tend to be in the dark and don’t know what’s really going on behind the scenes. This creates distrust and a culture of secrecy and exclusion. Employees want to work at companies that provide visibility. They want to work with executives that will bring them into higher-level conversations beyond the projects they are working on. The benefits of this approach are clear: If achievements and challenges are out in the open, everyone can align on long-term strategy and think at the business level.
Ravi: Will that continue if/when you go public? How will you maintain a radically transparent culture at scale?
Bipul: Transparency will remain a key value at Rubrik. To build a long-term company you need to build trust. And trust comes from transparency. We believe our culture has greatly contributed to our hyper growth. We would not be here today had we adopted the typical approach of selective information sharing.
Ravi: You’ve made some big hires recently — Jeff Vijungco from Adobe as Chief People Officer and Pete McGoff from Box as Chief Legal Officer. Hiring is a common pain point in this industry, maybe every industry. What’s your approach to attracting top talent?
Bipul: Yes. We’re thrilled to have Jeff and Pete on the team. They are here tonight. Please say “hi.” As I’ve said, Rubrik’s culture is our secret sauce. Jeff will be responsible for all aspects of employee success at Rubrik. He comes to Rubrik from Adobe. He helped scale the company culture as it grew from 3,000 to 18,000+ employees. So he knows a thing or two about growth. Pete joins Rubrik from Box where he served as its Chief Legal Officer and contributed to its successful IPO. At Box, Pete created a compliance framework to support customers from a broad array of verticals, including regulated industries. I think this was a significant differentiator for the company and can be for Rubrik. When it comes to attracting talent, many people come to Rubrik because they want to quickly make an impact. The tendency is, the bigger the company the harder it is to make your imprint on the product, the culture, the business.
Ravi: So, what’s next for Rubrik? Are you going to IPO soon?
Bipul: I am focused on scaling Rubrik and building the next phase of growth for the company. We’re approaching a $300 million bookings run rate and have grown to 1200 employees across the world. Last FY we grew our customer base 4x YoY. My dream is for Rubrik to become an iconic 30+ public company.