Nutanix CEO, Dheeraj Pandey

Hey Saulian Growth Lovers,

TLDR Version: I like Nutanix CEO, Dheeraj Pandey - a lot. Below are links to his LinkedIn profile, Glassdoor reviews, and two interviews, all of which seem to show a very competent, decent, inspired leader who knows who he is and why he does what he does.

A Quick Word on Analyzing the Non-Numerical Side of Investing
I am a skeptical New Yorker by birth and feel you really can’t know anyone, at all, until you know them personally and have seen them under pressure. That said, in order to invest in public companies, some degree of trust is required. I can’t invest in a company unless I feel some sense of integrity and excellence in their leader. Before I get into the Nutanix CEO, a word on what I don’t like, in order to further clarify what I think is truly elite leadership.

The Fall of Pixar’s John Lasseter
Recently, one of the great geniuses behind Pixar has been essentially iced out Disney for alleged bouts of viciousness, drinking and sexual harassment. There’s an article on Lasster in the Hollywood Reporter which is very bad. (see link below) After crafting an image of being a big fun-loving, Hawaiian-shirt wearing, teddy bear of a guy. I am always extra skeptical of guys who seem to be cultivating an image, guys who even have an image. So, that said, I just decided to look into Nutanix’ CEO as the stock seems to be growing in popularity in Fooldom.

Nutanix CEO - First Impressions
My initial thoughts are this guys seems like a strong leader. He is calm, focused, intelligent, well educated (highly competitive Indian Institute of Technology), seasoned but still relatively young (about 50 years-old), courageous (he came to the USA with $900 in his pocket and realized the American dream) and very likable. He seems comfortable in his own skin and has a passion for creating elegant, simple software that delights customers. One quote that struck me. “Tech is maturing to the point where it has to humanize.”

Items of note:

Pandey LinkedIn Profile

Long track record in software with a variety of heartfelt endorsements; like Gates and Jobs, the value of his education was outdone by his actual work experience. He left a PhD program in Computer Science at University of Texas, Austin.

95% Approval on Glassdoor…

Of the 340 ratings he racked up an very impressive 95% - this in our age of neverending griping and complaint.

Interview Posted on YouTube

Here he talks about his upbringing and the hyper-competitive world of higher education in India, learning to steel himself. No one can question the guys chutzpah and toughness. He has walked a long hard road. One can only imagine the courage it takes for a young man to move from India to Texas. Of note, he had I believe $3,000, needed some for travel, left $1,000 for his parents and headed out.

Nutanix CEO Forfeits 17.5M of Stock Before IPO…

Nutanix’s CEO is sweetening the equity pot for employees as the company waits to go public…

I’m no expert on compensation, but this sure seems to be the kind of decision that sparks a 95% approval rating from Nutanix employees on Glassdoor. I like the photo, likable but a little ego/attitude. Along these lines, a description in his LinkedIn Profile reads, “Product guy now building a business, hoping to stand on the shoulders of the channel to outdo the big guns. Specialties: Understanding people, building relationships, bridging the business-technology divide.”

Again, sorry to keep using words like “seems” and “feels” because for all I know he’s a monster, but he sure seems like a human-focused, decent man who cares about the quality of his product, and like someone building a company for the long-term, the kind of guy an army can charge behind as they race into battle.

Fawning Jim Cramer Interviews Pandey…

Again, he seems very calm, comfortable in his own skin, knowledgeable, and consistent with his vision articulated in earlier videos. It’s kind of funny how Cramer is downright giddy about him, like a teenage girl interviewing Paul McCartney in 1964.

Bottom Line
Dheeraj Pandey seems like an elite leader, one with a great origin story, extreme maturity, he’s passionate, unaffected, inspiring, doesn’t seem to have an axe to grind or a desperate need to show off.

I know all you growth-loving Fools love math and numbers and earnings and big TAMS, etc., as you should. But this Fool needs to believe in the human element, without which, all those beautiful numbers can take a great big dump in a hurry. I want to invest in CEOs that I would be thrilled to have in my family, enjoy having a beer with, could hang a picture of on my wall as a noble steward of my portfolio, The Monsters of Greatness Excessive Capital Appreciation Fund.

I think I’m gonna join the Nutanix club.

Fool On,

Broadway Dan

Nights on Broadway - The Bee Gees

“He Who Must Not Be Named:” Can John Lasseter Ever Return to Disney…