When NetApp went public on Nov. 21, 1995, it was still a start-up with about 100 employees. Employees had no way of knowing then that their small start-up would one day become the largest independent storage and data management company in the market.
Ed Chow, who started at the company a few months before it went public, remembers the days leading up to the offering as full of anticipation and excitement. “Those were some of the craziest three months of my life,” says Chow, who today is NetApp’s vice president of Product Management and Technical Marketing. “It was an incredible amount of work.” At the time, Chow recalls, NetApp fit the stereotype of the “sleepless” start-up. He tells of one night when a reporter from The San Jose Mercury News came knocking at the office at about 2 a.m. for a story about that very topic. There were enough people at the office to answer the door.
Roger Anderson, senior vice president of Systems Engineering, recalls a very fast-paced office environment. When Anderson started as a systems engineer in the Dallas office 21 years ago, he and the sales representatives he supported covered several states promoting the company’s innovative products and solutions. “We were having a lot of success,” Anderson says. “We were the little guy on the block competing against some pretty established competitors, so it felt really good.”
Due to the small size of the company in 1995, it was all hands on deck to prepare the company to go public. Systems Engineering Programs Manager Jim Coleman would often bring his three children with him to the office late in the evenings-and since there were always boxes around, he’d point them to the corner of the room where the children built forts while he worked.
Everyone knew each other, says Judy Ogle, who has been a collections manager at NetApp since 1994. She recalls all employees sitting in a circle on the floor listening to founder James Lau explain the technical aspects of a product. “Individuals certainly make a difference and have a large impact on the company at that stage,” she says.
On the day NetApp went public, the atmosphere was “obviously very exciting,” Chow says. According to Anderson the months leading up to going public really brought the company together. “There was a lot of pent up anticipation the day we went public, and we were very happy about how things went,” he says. Coleman says he remembers everyone watching their computers throughout the day to see how the stock would perform. One of the things that Chow remembers about that day was that former CEO Dan Warmenhoven arrived to the office with NetApp-blue hair. “We had a celebration-and it was just the beginning,” Chow says.
Tomorrow, NetApp customers and employees including sales District Manager Meghan Steele, an employee of almost 12 years, will be at Nasdaq to ring the opening bell in celebration of 20 years as a public company. “It’s awesome and a real privilege to be a part of something so special,” Meghan says. “When I started there were only about 60 people working in the federal organization of our U.S. public sector business, and now we’re an established brand with a strong presence.” When asked what makes NetApp a great place to work, Meghan says: “The people are definitely why I’m here. People are always willing to help and are genuinely very passionate about helping customers meet their mission.”
Watch NetApp ring the Nasdaq opening bell on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016 in celebration of their 20th anniversary as a public company. Read more perspectives about NetApp’s 20th anniversary as a public company from: