F5′s Terenzoni Takes CEO Helm at Big Data Startup Sqrrl

3/19/13Follow @gthuang

One of the Boston area’s most intriguing tech startups has hired a new CEO, and he’s from a big company.

The startup is Cambridge, MA-based Sqrrl, and the CEO is Mark Terenzoni, formerly senior vice president of global manufacturing at Seattle-based F5 Networks (NASDAQ: FFIV). Terenzoni, a longtime Boston techie, came to F5 in the firm’s 2007 acquisition of Acopia Networks, a file virtualization company where he was vice president of operations.

Sqrrl was founded last year by ex-National Security Agency computer scientists. It makes secure database software that helps companies and institutions in finance, healthcare, and other sectors manage huge amounts of data and build applications on top of that data. The company moved to Boston from the DC area and raised $2 million from Atlas Venture and Matrix Partners.

Sqrrl has been located at hack/reduce, the big-data community space near Kendall Square. But it sounds like the company has outgrown that space and will be moving soon (if it hasn’t already). Earlier this month I heard the startup was building out its engineering, sales, and management teams, including more executives from Acopia and Vertica Systems (now part of HP). Chris Lynch, who previously led both Acopia and Vertica as CEO, is the VC who led the Atlas investment, along with Antonio Rodriguez from Matrix.

Terenzoni replaces Oren Falkowitz, the co-founder and former CEO of Sqrrl, who has left the company. The other two founders, Ely Kahn and Adam Fuchs, are still with the firm.

I exchanged e-mail with Terenzoni (pictured) about his new role:

Xconomy: Given your experience at F5 and Acopia, what attracted you to Sqrrl and the startup CEO life?

Mark Terenzoni: For the last 20 years of my career I have gravitated to startups and early stage companies including Acopia, where I was the first executive hired by Chris Lynch after his appointment as Acopia’s CEO. My recent experience at F5 (after the Acopia acquisition) was running a business unit based on a software acquisition. That experience in taking that small company to market and growing the business is a natural progression to my new role as CEO at Sqrrl.

My attraction to Sqrrl is based on a number of factors: First and foremost the team is amazing, from the quality of investors (Atlas/Matrix) to the engineering talent Sqrrl has attracted. Secondly the big data market in general and Sqrrl’s specific ability to power big applications on top of big data is expected to grow at a rate greater than 30 percent [compound annual growth rate] through 2017. Last but not least, our product, “sqrrl enterprise” based on Apache Accumulo, has significant differentiation in terms of enterprise scale, security, and unique analytics.

X: What are your goals at the company for this year, and what is the biggest challenge?

MT: Our goals for this year are to expand the product and early customer traction to broader footprints in financial, federal, healthcare, and telco. Currently there is a land grab in the space, and our challenge will be to make sure our significant differentiation on security, scale, and flexibility continues to rise to the forefront of the key decision makers.

X: How do you see the “big data” ecosystem evolving in Boston and beyond? What are the new trends we should be watching?

MT: It is clear that Boston is starting to be recognized as the epicenter of Big Data, the Boston Big Data community has adopted a “coopetition” model which is extremely refreshing to see. Many of the companies join forces at Big Data meet-ups at hack/reduce where they collaborate on solving real-world customer challenges.

I think the next wave of trends will be around Big Applications that harness the power of Big Data and allow customers to realize the value of real-time applications that provide the competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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