MayaData: another Kubernetes storage startup changes CEO

Open source Kubernetes-focused startup MayaData has undergone a CEO change as — this is almost laughable — the Chief Transformation Officer transforms the CEO who hired him out of the job and himself into it.

Evan Powell.

Coincidentally, this information comes out as Kubernetes startup Diamanta’s CEO change news broke. It’s all-change in Kubernetes startup CEO land.

Evan Powell, the ex-Nexenta CEO, became MayaData’s CEO and Chairman in June 2017 when the original ClouydByte startup renamed itself as MayaData. Powell built the company up with its OpenEBS product to the point where there was a deal with DataCore in February. Then DataCore technology was made available to MayaData and AME Cloud Ventures, DataCore Software, and venture capital and private equity firm Insight Partners invested $26 million in MayaData.

Insight Partners is also a DataCore investor. We might imagine some Insight Partners string-pulling is going on here — but we have no insight (ahem). Following the DataCore, deal Don Williams was hired as the COO and somewhat oddly named Chief Transformation Officer.

His LinkedIn profile says: “Joined to help MayaData scale in response to rapidly increasing adoption of OpenEBS for stateful workloads on Kubernetes. Responsibilities include insuring that every customer succeeds in their use of Kubernetes for data, with the assistance of OpenEBS and other MayaData software and services.”

Don Williams.

Fast forward four months and Powell is out, though still a board member, and Williams has the CEO reins in his hands. MayaData’s leadership web page shows no sales, marketing or COO positions. Williams did what he was hired to do and, in effect, Powell hired his replacement.

This situation change is almost par for the course as far as Powell is concerned. He has a great early-stage startup CEO skillset, having built up Nexenta to the point where another CEO, Tarkan Maner, was appointed in 2013. That CEO then built it up more and helped sell the company to DDN in May 2019.

We might envisage Willians building up MayaData, on the foundations Powell laid, to the point where it gets acquired — possibly by DataCore through an Insight Partners push.

As we said yesterday commenting on Diamanti’s market situation, the Kubernetes storage world is intensely competitive, with suppliers such as NetApp Astra, Dell EMC, HPE Ezmeral, Pure-Portworx, not to mention SmartX, SUSE Rancher, StorageOS and many others duking it out for a piece of the action. It’s all good news for corporate recruitment agencies but means Williams has to get MayaData performing like a champ.