How Rubrik's IPO made big money for Greylock VC Asheem Chandna

When Asheem Chandna drove to Rubrik's Palo Alto office on a Friday evening in early 2015, he was looking forward to hearing what the young company that had yet to build his product would show him. The Greylock partner was not disappointed.

The company's CEO Bipul Sinha drew Rubrik's plan to innovate the data management and recovery market on a whiteboard. “The old versus new architecture he presented was very compelling,” Chandna said. “Based on my knowledge of the industry, I knew it could be built into a large company.”

That was a prescient call. Thursday, nine years after that meeting, Rubric began life as a publicly traded company with a market capitalization of over $6 billion. Greylock has a 13% stake, according to the latest SEC documentation. At the market's close Friday, priced at $38, those nearly 19.9 million shares were worth more than $756 million.

But Chandna says it was much more than Rubrik's desire to enter the arcane data recovery market that motivated him to lead Rubrik's $40 million Series B in May 2015. (The Series B round sold for $2.45 per share, adjusted for splits, according to those SEC filings. Although Greylock also participated in later rounds at higher prices, Chandra's returns on this one are hefty.)

“The longer I do what I do, the more I fundamentally believe that a business is a people business,” says Chandna, who has been an investor for over two decades and has an enviable track record of successful exits. He helped build Palo Alto Networks at Greylock's offices and served on the nearly $100 billion company's board until last year. Chandna was also an early investor in AppDynamics, Sumo logic and Arista Networks.

Chandna looks for people who are not only motivated and ambitious, but also aware of their weaknesses, and can recruit people who can get things done in areas that are not the founder's strengths.

Another essential ingredient for a founder is grit. “If you had technology that was adequate but slightly inferior to my technology, but you were very confident and persistent, you would beat me,” he said.

That's what he saw in Sinha. The founder of Rubrik had a lifelong dream of starting a business. When he founded the data management and recovery startup in 2013, he couldn't find strong engineers to work there, Chandra recalls. The company he was trying to build was inherently unsexy at the time.

Despite being an investor at Lightspeed for four years before launching Rubrik, recruiting talent proved to be a major challenge for Sinha. But he didn't give up. He pinged engineers on LinkedIn and then invited them to coffee blocks far away from where they worked.

“Startup journeys are very difficult, even for the most successful companies,” says Chandna. “I want people who won't take 'no' for an answer.”

Perhaps it was Sinha's perseverance and ambition that compelled him to take his company public despite the tepid IPO environment.

“Rubric has just under $800 million in annualized recurring revenue,” Chandna said. “That is larger than most companies that have gone public in recent years. I think they just wanted to keep going.”

Chandna declined to say whether he expects other Greylock portfolio companies to follow Rubrik's lead, but added pointedly that the company's top performing late-stage companies are Abnormal Security, Cato Networks, Discord, Figma and Lyra Health .

We will closely monitor their fate.

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