Defying the rules Featured

8:00pm EDT June 25, 2008

Data Domain was founded in late 2001, and when Frank Slootman left a larger, more established company to hop on board as CEO in 2003, it already had its share of young company issues. At that time, the business didn’t have a sales staff or customers, and Slootman himself had to sell the first half dozen or so customers.

To make Data Domain a player in the data storage market, Slootman articulated a set of values for everyone — including himself — to live by. He also created a plan and vision for the company, which didn’t include being acquired or any other exit strategy. Instead, he focused on making Data Domain an independent and self-sustainable business.

He also defied conventional wisdom. Instead of bringing on a team of managers with a trail of accolades following them, he chose to hire people who showed great potential and whose greatest accomplishments were yet to come. He also ruffled some feathers by choosing to go overseas early in the company’s life instead of establishing itself here first. While many thought this was a mistake, it allowed the company to diversify its revenue streams, accelerate growth and block competition.

Slootman’s vision and risks have paid off. The company’s revenue grew 1,450 percent from 2005 to 2007, and at of the end of last year, it had 1,500 customers in 23 countries.

HOW TO REACH: Data Domain, (408) 980-4800 or