I met Sam Gutmann 1.0 nearly a decade ago, when he was CEO of Intronis and I was co-founder of MSPmentor. Gutmann's entrepreneurial story has some familiar themes. He and a couple of pals saw the emerging cloud and the backup market -- and converged them to get Intronis off the ground.
We spoke pretty frequently during the early years of cloud-based backup. But I really got to know Gutmann during his 2.0 stage. He had exited Intronis around 2010, worked in a family business for a bit, dabbled in angel investing, and contemplated what's next. By mid-2014, I was on my own hiatus -- and I wound up connecting with Gutmann for drinks in Manhattan.
That's when he mentioned Golden Seeds -- an angel investor group that only invests in women-owned businesses. Sam invited me to a Golden Seeds meeting and I pretty much got hooked right from the start -- but not in a way I expected. I enjoyed the company pitches but I never had enough confidence to open my wallet and invest in a startup.
For most of 2014, Gutmann and I attended those regular Golden Seeds meetings. We often compared notes at the angel gatherings -- discussing the presenters as well as broader trends in Silicon Valley. I knew that at some point I wanted to get back into the IT media game. And I also kept on watching Gutmann for his next career move.
Sam Gutmann 3.0 Arrives
After a range of stealth meetings, Gutmann finally unveiled his next move in January 2015 -- as CEO of OwnBackup, an early leader in the Salesforce.com backup market. Although OwnBackup is a startup, Gutmann's view is global. While he lives on the U.S. east coast, OwnBackup has business interests that stretch from Silicon Valley to Israel and beyond.
Gutmann's view of the cloud-to-cloud backup market is similarly global. The platform originally ran on Amazon Web Services -- and continues to run there. But OwnBackup has also extended into the Microsoft Azure ecosystem. Check Gutmann's travel log over the past year or so, and you'll notice plenty of stops in Seattle and Silicon Valley... where he has been building relationships with the major cloud providers.
The cloud-to-cloud backup market is crowded. So I don't know how the Sam Gutmann 3.0 story will play out. But I do know this: Gutmann is a student of the game.
Fast, Informed Decisions
During closed-door angel investor meetings with dozens of startups, Gutmann demonstrated a unique ability to ask the tough questions -- while still showing each entrepreneur ample respect. Gutmann has also performed due diligence on a range of startups over the past three years or so. With those traits in mind, I suspect he went into OwnBackup with eyes wide open.
In some ways, we've both come full circle. I'm back in IT media. Gutmann is back in the data protection market. We're still talking. And comparing notes. And rescheduling calls with each other amid missed connections.
We had hoped to speak this week about OwnBackup on Azure. The game of phone-tag continues. And so, too, does Gutmann's effort to make a major dent in an IT market. Again.