The co-founder of $725 million cloud startup Mesosphere is stepping aside as CEO to make way for a Symantec veteran

The co-founder of $725 million cloud startup Mesosphere is stepping aside as CEO to make way for a Symantec veteran

mesosphere ceo mike fey


Mesosphere CEO Mike Fey, formerly COO of Symantec.

  • Mesosphere, most recently valued at $725 million in a funding round this year, is getting a new CEO.
  • Founder Florian Leibert is stepping aside to make way for Mike Fey, most recently COO of Symantec.
  • Leibert had previously announced his intention to find his own replacement.
  • Fey sees a lot of opportunity in bringing Mesosphere's software to larger customers, to help them manage their server and cloud infrastructure.
  • Fey says he was first intrigued by Mesosphere's all-star roster of investors, which include Khosla Ventures, Microsoft, Andreessen Horowitz, T. Rowe Price, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

Earlier this year, cloud startup Mesosphere raised $125 million, bringing its total funding to just shy of $250 million. That deal valued Mesosphere at $725 million, according to Bloomberg, up from $600 million in 2016.

Now, Mesosphere co-founder Florian Leibert is following through on his previously-announced intention to step aside as CEO, to take a new role focused on strategy and working with customers. Replacing him will be Mike Fey, most recently president and COO of Symantec, in a move that the company says will help it achieve the next stage of growth by going after larger customers.

"I realized this was one of the few things that could impact the future in a meaningful way," Fey told Business Insider in an interview on Thursday.

Mesosphere once famously turned down an acquisition offer from Microsoft, after which some pundits started to theorize that the company was doomed. But Fey says that Mesosphere is growing fast, and it's his intention to keep on building momentum as an independent company.


"I didn't come here to sell it short," Fey says. "I came here to build something special."

mesosphere ceo florian leibert


Mesosphere founder Florian Leibert in the company's San Francisco headquarters. The magenta spots are the locations of their worldwide offices; the names in blue are some of its customers.

What first attracted him to Mesosphere, Fey says, is its all-star roster of investors, including T. Rowe Price, Andreessen Horowitz, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Khosla Ventures, and even Koch Industries, who have sunk just shy of $250 million into the company in total.

"That led me to take it very seriously," Fey says.

With his interest piqued, Fey first met with Leibert in October, and ultimately decided that it was the logical next move for him. Leibert, for his part, was excited to hand off the reins after 5 years as chief exec, and spend more time working with customers and thinking about what's next for the company.


What's next for Mesosphere

Last year, the company said it was on a $50 million annualized run rate, a measure of how much revenue it expects to book over the next 12-month period. While Mesosphere declines to share new numbers today, Leibert has said that its revenue triples every year.

Read more: This startup famously turned down an acquisition offer from Microsoft - now it's a $50 million business

Mesosphere's flagship product is DC/OS, or the Data Center Operating System. The general principle behind DC/OS is that it should be as easy for IT pros to manage the software on their servers as it is to download an iPhone app. It's especially popular for running Kubernetes, a Google-born technology for managing cloud infrastructure.

Fey sees big value in bringing this to ever-larger customers, who need an easy way to first bring their software to the cloud, and then to snap on additional technologies like Kubernetes, artificial intelligence, or smart device management.

Tactically, Fey wants to take the positive experiences of Mesosphere's smaller customers, and "repeat it at the highest levels." He highlights new customer GE Transportation, which is using DC/OS to manage applications across its own data centers, as well as mega-clouds like those offered by Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.


Leibert says that the time is right, too: With Microsoft buying GitHub for $7.5 billion, IBM snapping up Red Hat for $34 billion, and VMware acquiring red-hot Kubernetes startup Heptio, there's going to be a lot of interest in open source software. That's good for Mesosphere, Leibert says, because there's no easier way for customers to get started using open source software than to install and manage it via DC/OS.

"You need to be able to put all of these technologies together," says Leibert.