An Overview of Pivotal

Admittedly, I was a little disappointed when our visit with Twitch fell through. Twitch was a company that I have known about since its Justin.tv days and I was excited to become an “expert” on the company. However, I looked forward to the possibility of learning about a company that I had no prior knowledge of. After some research, I have come to the conclusion that Pivotal is a fascinating company with a rich history. In order to prove this point, I will highlight some of their facts and accomplishments.

QUICK FACTS

  • Pivotal claims one-third of the Fortune 100 as their clientele
  • Holds 26 offices all over the world with over 2000 employees
  • Raised about $1.7 billion in three rounds of funding from EMC, VMware, General Electric, Ford Motor Company, and Microsoft
  • Reduced Volkswagen’s IT operations cost by 50%
  • Sped up Allianz’s app development process by 2000%, reducing the time to develop technology from “days to minutes”

HISTORY

In order to understand how Pivotal has realized these accomplishments, it may help to learn about their rise in the industry. Pivotal Software was technically founded in 2013, but the company dates back to as far as 1989. Rob Mee, the current CEO of Pivotal, founded Pivotal Labs as a software development-consulting firm. EMC acquired Pivotal Labs in 2012, helping Pivotal forge a strong relationship with VMware. VMware was a key player in Pivotal’s development of its Pivotal Cloud Foundry, one of their most important services/sources of revenue today.

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Rob Mee

For a record-breaking price of $67 billion dollars, Dell acquired EMC in 2016. This acquisition forged Pivotal’s current status as a wholly owned subsidiary of Dell. As you can probably tell, Pivotal is not your typical venture capital-financed startup. Pivotal has received funding from legacy tech companies and even a car company so it will be intriguing to learn how this has affected their growth.

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WHAT DOES PIVOTAL ACTUALLY DO?

Pivotal’s mission, which holds true to this day, is to “Transform the way the world builds software.” Pivotal believes that software engineering is the “value-engine” of an organization, so their mission is to help streamline the process of developing technology in order to reduce operational costs, save time, and drive innovation. Pivotal’s main service offerings can be broken down into three divisions.

Pivotal Labs

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Retaining its name from 1989, Pivotal Labs still serves as Pivotal’s consulting arm. Caroline Hane-Weijman, an Engagement Director at Pivotal, blogged about Pivotal Labs’ mission when she was a product manager back in 2016.

Hane-Weijman wrote, “We want the end-to-end product development process to be the core competency of your organization, driven by empowered, autonomous and self-organizing agile teams and guided by principles of user-centric design, lean startup methodologies, and lean engineering practices.”

The most important word to note in that sentence is “agile” because it is the basis of all of Pivotal’s offerings. Agile refers to the practice of Agile software development, where work is organized into weekly or bi-weekly rotations to maximize quality, value, and efficiency. Transparency and communication is the key to making Agile work, so Pivotal Labs lets its users know that implementing an Agile team will require a cultural change.

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Pivotal Cloud Foundry

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In 2017, Pivotal claimed that their revenue from the Pivotal Cloud Foundry (PCF) grew from $117.4 million in 2015 to $270 million in 2016.

PCF is the platform that allows Pivotal’s users to adopt the Agile methodology. PCF is a collection of Agile development kits and apps that help their clients test and deploy apps all on the cloud. The main benefit of PCF is that it is compatible with all of the major cloud services available, such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure (possibly why Microsoft invested in Pivotal). In a similar fashion to Salesforce, Pivotal offers a marketplace of apps as add-ons to its platform.

So far, Pivotal’s testimonials have been staggering. Anthony McCulley, The Home Depot Manager of Applications Platforms, said that integrating Pivotal’s services transformed their legacy technology and allowed Home Depot to go from 0 to 3100 apps in their first year. Greg Sculley, Comcast Executive Director of Cloud Services, said that the company went from 0 to 900 apps in its first year and is able to create a customer-facing feature in 2-3 days.

Pivotal Data Suite

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Pivotal offers software that helps its customers to work with big data. Pivotal mentions that an important aspect of transforming the way people build software is to also give them the tools to work with data. Data-driven companies such as Amazon have seen great success, so Pivotal offered a service that complements the rest of their products.

CURRENT EVENTS

Pivotal Container Services

Pivotal partnered with Google and VMware in late 2017 to develop Pivotal Container Services (PKS). I had a hard time understanding what a container project actually is, but PCS aligns with the rest of Pivotal’s offerings. A TechCrunch article mentions that PCS will “simplify creating, deploying, and managing container projects at scale”. On February 12, 2018, Pivotal announced the general availability of PKS, adding on to their impressive PCF.

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Chad Sakac

On February 21, 2018, Chad Sakac, former president of Dell EMC’s Converged Platforms and Solutions Division, announced he was moving to Pivotal. Sakac’s move hopes to improve the integration of PCF and PKS with Dell. This could lead to some exciting questions at our visit, as it seems like Dell is really trying to position itself as more than a PC COMPANY.

QUESTIONS FOR PIVOTAL

I hope you have learned a little more about another B2B company that most of the general population may not know about, but certainly, all of the most successful companies in the world have heard about.

Some questions I would ask Pivotal are:

  • What are some of the ways that Pivotal continues to differentiate itself from the other cloud foundry services?
  • How has Pivotal been a major player in Ford’s attempt to develop autonomous vehicle technology?
  • Does Pivotal have different approaches to helping a car company like Volkswagen to helping an investment bank like Citi?
  • I have seen articles of Pivotal IPO’ing dating back to 2015. In your opinion, would an IPO be in the best interest of Pivotal right now?

Sources:

http://fortune.com/2017/03/07/pivotal-cloud-foundry-growth/

https://augustschell.com/what-is-pivotal/

https://builttoadapt.io/pivotal-labs-a-very-different-type-of-consultancy-9b47a27f0388

https://content.pivotal.io/announcements/why-the-fortune-100-turn-to-pivotal-for-digital-transformation

https://beta.techcrunch.com/2016/09/07/67-billion-dell-emc-deal-becomes-official-today/

https://techcrunch.com/2017/08/29/seven-moves-that-led-to-the-vmware-pivotal-google-partnership/

https://techcrunch.com/2017/08/29/pivotal-vmware-google-partner-on-container-project/

https://pivotal.io/agile

3 thoughts on “An Overview of Pivotal

  1. Starting off with those stats really had me hooked. It’s inconceivable that companies like Pivotal are so ~pivotal~ to the industry, yet remain largely unknown in the consumer world.
    Given that so many companies are struggling to evolve to the digital age, this is a very timely business. I’m really curious as to whether their clients realize they need an overhaul of their development process, or if Pivotal has to convince them with their data and success rates from past clients.

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  2. Like Katie said, it’s crazy to think that you never hear of these companies given their growth and scale. I’ll be interested to see what Pivotal’s opinion is on these old, legacy company that are in dire need to PIVOT. While I’m sure Pivotal will say it’s possible for them (given that their service is to help them go through this process), I wonder what industries or companies in particular Pivotal think is going to have a harder time than other.

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  3. Really interesting post, Max! I agree with Katie above, it’s crazy how a company that has so much growth is unknown to the consumer.

    I am interested in the future of Pivotal and its growth on the cloud. It is undeniable that the company is solving an important problem based on their clientele and the statistics. Their mission states that they are focused on how software is built, but how will that evolve as time goes on and software is out?
    Regardless, their PCF platform is clearly very successful and I am interested in their competition with Salesforce if there is any.

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