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Herrod will carry his technical leadership experience at one of the fastest growing young companies in Silicon Valley out the door with him. It was that experience that was one of the draws for General Catalyst to seek him out. General Catalyst prides itself on providing not only startup financing but entrepreneurial guidance to the companies that it finances. It is a bi-coastal firm with offices in Cambridge, Mass., and Palo Alto, Calif.
Herrod said in a posting to his VMware blog Tuesday that virtualization "has become the default technology upon which the majority of the world's server applications run," and as a result many opportunities have opened up to equip the data center and hybrid cloud operations of the future with new products.
[ Read how the now-former CTO described VMware in an interview last year. See What's Next From VMware: CTO Steve Herrod. ]
"I am amazed by the changes our industry has undergone over the last decade," he wrote. Herrod was the first to use the term "software-defined data center" as a way of describing how virtualization was changing enterprise IT and VMware's role in meeting those changes. Herrod added it was with "both excitement and sadness that I announce my transition from VMware to a new adventure."
VMware responded with a statement that it was initiating a search both "internally and externally" for the best candidate to replace Herrod. "We thank Steve for his passion and leadership over the past eleven years and wish him the best in his new role," it said.
Herrod will remain a technical advisor to VMware. The firm through its parent company's EMC Ventures also invests in startups and "intends to also pursue opportunities to jointly invest with General Catalyst in early stage start-ups that may help advance VMware's vision and ecosystem," VMware's statement said.
Herrod was a graduate student at Stanford, where VMware founder Wendel Rosenblum first captured in software the instructions for the x86 family of Intel hardware. Herrod collaborated with the future founders of VMware there, and then joined Transmeta, where he worked on creating a virtual CPU, a processor in software. It was at this time that his career briefly overlapped that of Linus Torvalds, originator of the Linux kernel, as Torvalds worked at Transmeta for six years through 2003. Torvalds, however, found virtualization less interesting than the many aspects of Linux development.
Herrod joined VMware in 2001, where he became one of VMware's first engineering directors. He led numerous teams in developing new technologies and products, according to company officials who worked with him. He was named CTO in 2008. He became a primary company spokesman for the expanding role of virtualization in the data center and enhancements to VMware's vSphere product suite.
Herrod was VMware's keynoter for six major industry events with attendance of 10,000 or more. He was an active hand in 15 of VMware's acquisitions. He tended to be an above-the-fray spokesman, focusing on his company's strengths and largely ignoring competitive positioning statements and detractors.
"My primary focus will be finding, supporting, and developing great technical entrepreneurs as they build the products and companies that they've always dreamt of building," Herrod wrote in his blog. "These companies will bring the same tremendous energy, creativity, and innovation to these and other challenges, just as VMware has for so many years."