David Flynn’s journey through the tech industry is nothing short of extraordinary. From his formative years in Alabama to his pivotal role in the creation of Fusion-io and Hammerspace, David’s story is a testament to the transformative power of innovation and unwavering determination.
In this blog, we delve deeper into the key milestones that shaped David’s career, the groundbreaking technologies he introduced, and the invaluable lessons he learned along the way.
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Early Years and Technological Awakening
After getting a Ph.D. at Duke University, David’s father taught at the University Of Kentucky before entering a missile interceptor program. David recalls this as being around the 1980s during the Star Wars program. He puts his exposure to rocket science in Huntsville, Alabama as the trigger for a passion for technology that would define his career even though he was growing up in the Southeast,
Armed with a self-taught mastery of computer programming, David began his journey on a TRS-80 at a local Radio Shack store. This early hands-on experience laid the groundwork for his future endeavors.
Eventually, David got a Commodore 64 and made a 3D Wireframe Renderer by writing assembly language software. That’s how David got a job working for a computer science corporation, building a flight simulator for an army missile system.
David’s career trajectory was marked by influential collaborations with industry giants. His tenure under Larry Ellison’s wing paved the way for ventures at Oracle and Network Computer Inc., where David played a crucial role in reshaping the tech landscape.
Liberate Technologies, with its focus on interactive TV, further solidified his reputation as a trailblazer in the industry. David remembers starting a satellite office in Salt Lake City that grew to 30 people first starting at Oracle then NCI Liberate, and building innovative technology. Soon, Liberate went through an IPO.
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Fusion-io: A Revolution in Solid-State Storage
David’s next projects involved building some of the world’s largest supercomputers using InfiniBand. He recalls working for the US Department of Energy, several other departments, and private companies like Boeing.
That’s when he was approached by an entrepreneur who was into building security devices that used embedded Linux and NAND Flash Memory. The technology was a bit ahead of its time, so David started throwing around other ideas that lead to establishing Fusion-io.
The birth of Fusion-io was a watershed moment in Flynn’s career. Recognizing the untapped potential of flash technology, Flynn and his team engineered the world’s first high-performance, enterprise-grade solid-state storage devices.
This work ultimately led to the creation of NVMe which is now a standard in Enterprise data workflows at the edge, in data centers, and throughout the cloud. This innovation, adopted by tech behemoths like Facebook and Apple, catapulted Fusion-io into a multi-billion-dollar industry.
Facebook used Fusion-io hardware that allowed them to scale their service to support a billion users overnight. Eventually, the company purchased over a billion dollars of product from Fusion-io. Apple and Microsoft ran iCloud and Bing on the technology, respectively.
The CEO Transition and Unyielding Resilience
David remembers working as the CFO at Fusion-io for around two years before Marc Andreessen of Netscape suggested he step in as CEO. Marc also offered funding for the next round along with Andreessen Horowitz and Excel Ventures.
Taking the reins as CEO of Fusion-io was a pivotal move for David. Leading the company through its IPO on the New York Stock Exchange and navigating industry shifts showcased his strategic acumen and commitment to the company’s vision.
David successfully met challenges stemming from shifts in the industry landscape with a combination of adaptability and resilience. Eventually, the company was acquired for $3.2B by SanDisk.
Hammerspace: Liberating Data from Storage
Never one to rest on past achievements, David embarked on his next visionary startup with Hammerspace. This groundbreaking venture seeks to free data from the constraints of traditional storage systems.
Hammerspace’s innovative software solution enables seamless data management across diverse infrastructures, offering businesses exceptional flexibility and scalability. David recalls investing $20M in the venture when starting it.
Next, he approached angel investors who had achieved 50000% returns in less than four years at Fusion-io and recruited them as partners in the Hammerspace venture.
With over $55 million in funding, Hammerspace’s ambitious vision has garnered support from influential investors like Kathy Wood, ARC Investments, and lead investor Prosperity 7 which is the US investment arm of Saudi Aramco.
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The company’s approach to data orchestration represents a benchmark shift in how businesses interact with their critical data, setting the stage for a new era in data access and data analytics.
David talks about their objectives to make data independent of big enterprise storage systems and cloud services so that compute resources located anywhere, applications everywhere, and users around the world can use it anywhere they go.
Hammerspace ensures that data is not localized in any specific piece of hardware, which is a groundbreaking concept.
Lessons from a Tech Trailblazer
Reflecting on his journey, David imparts invaluable advice to his younger self. He emphasizes the importance of confidence in one’s strengths, maintaining hands-on involvement in areas of passion, and surrounding oneself with capable individuals who complement those strengths.
David Flynn’s journey is a testament to the transformative power of innovation and the impact one individual can have on an entire industry. From revolutionizing solid-state storage with Fusion-io to pioneering data orchestration with Hammerspace, David’s legacy is etched in the annals of tech history.
His story serves as an inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs and tech enthusiasts worldwide, reminding us all that with vision, dedication, and unwavering belief, the possibilities in the world of technology are boundless.
Listen in to the full podcast episode to find out more, including:
- The journey from self-taught programmer to tech visionary exemplifies the power of passion and hands-on experience.
- Fusion-io’s pioneering work in solid-state storage revolutionized the industry, earning it a multi-billion-dollar valuation.
- The transition to CEO demonstrated a strategic prowess and unwavering commitment to the company’s vision.
- Hammerspace, the latest venture, liberates data from traditional storage systems, promising unparalleled flexibility for businesses.
- Advice to the younger self emphasizes the importance of confidence in one’s strengths and staying hands-on in areas of passion.
- Hammerspace’s innovative approach to data orchestration is poised to redefine how businesses interact with their critical data.
- Inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs, showcasing the boundless possibilities at the intersection of vision and technology.