Implications of Crosby and Pratt leaving Citrix

Now that the news is out that Citrix’s CTO Simon Crosby, and Vice President Ian Pratt are leaving Citrix, to start their own company called Bromium, its clear that this is a great loss to Citrix, especially Crosby served as a public-facing executive, representing Citrix on many occasions. In the meantime the Citrix CTO office, chaired by Martin Duursma responded on the news in a blog post titled: "Simon Crosby and Ian Pratt Announce the Founding of Bromium"

Before joining Citrix, both Crosby and Pratt worked for XenSource, the company which was acquired by Citrix in August 2008, XenSource was founded by Pratt, and supported the development of the Open Source project Xen, the Hypervisor now used by Citrix, and still offered as Open Source through the community.

Joining Crosby and Pratt join Guarav Banga at Bromium. Banga created the HyperSpace product Phoenix Technologies. HyperSpace is an instant-on Linux based Operating System providing an application environment which can run independently or side-by-side with a tradtional OS, it actually was one of the first client hypervisors based on Xen ever developed. In June 2009 though, HP purchased the technology from Phoenix Technologies.

Bromium is funded by a couple of investment firms, today it already raised $9,2 Million through a Series A funding, which should give them some resources to start developing their product(s). The investment firms are:

  • Andreessen Horowitz, which will put Peter Levine in the Board of Directors. Levine is now Venture Partner at Andreessen Horowitz but also Senior Vice President at Citrix. Levine was the former CEO of XenSource, before it was acquired by Citrix.
  • Ignition Partners, which will put Frank Artale in the Board of Directors. Artale is Managing Director at Ignition Partners, but also Vice President of Business Development at Citrix, and was Vice President of XenSource, before it was acquired by Citrix.
  • Lightspeed Venture Partners.

Besides that Bromium also announced that the world-wide CTO of McAfee (which is now owned by Intel) , George Kruz will also be added as a board member.

So, to sum this up, we have 2 people highly involved in the Xen community, someone who wrote a Linux OS with Instant-On capabilities using Xen, and some direct and indirect involvement from McAfee (which worked with Crosby and Pratt to deliver a so called "introspection" security solution), Intel and Citrix, and several loose ends about what Bromium is going to deliver in the future.

Duursma gave a hint on the Citrix blog on what Bromium is going to deliver, pointing to a passage of Crosby’s recent keynote at last months Synergy event. In this passage in the keynote, Crosby discusses the Virtual Private Datacenter and the fact that corporate sensitive data leaves companies through its employees, and therefore data on their devices should be better protected. In an interview with ReadWriteWeb, Crosby explains that the technology will be able to protect all running code on the client at all times and that the core intellectual property is hypervisor independant. This can still mean, hypervisor technology is involved, leading to some kind of next generation high secure hypervisor, perhaps even combined with technology deliverd by companies in which Crosby participates due to his membership of the board of directors.

For Citrix, this is bad news, eventhough they fully cooperate on Crosby and Pratt leaving. We can determine this based on the fact that 2 high executives from Citrix, eventhough self-employed also join the board of directors of Bromium. This probably means that what ever Bromium is going to develop, Citrix wants to stay involved in the process indirectly.

Eventhough, it’s a fact that Citrix looses its main Public Face, which Crosby filled in the last couple of years, and we shouln’t forget, Harry Labana, who left Citrix last month. Labana was the CTO of desktop virtualization and left Citrix to become CTO of AppSense.

Who ever follows-up Labana, Crosby and Pratt has some big shoes to fill, and should be appointed fast, so that Citrix is able to further execute its strategy.