When Greg Reyes took the job as president and CEO of Silicon Valley-based Brocade Communications Systems, he vowed to make the storage area network infrastructure provider an industry leader.
In three years he’s been able to do that, along the way becoming one of the country’s most affluent people, mostly through stock ownership in Brocade. Last year, Forbes put him on its list of the 400 wealthiest individuals in the United States, with estimated assets of $1 billion.
That figure has likely dropped since the company’s stock tumbled in February, but Mr. Reyes isn’t wasting time brooding over his net worth.
“I don’t look at my inclusion on that list as anything other than an acknowledgement that Brocade has emerged as one of the preeminent technology companies in Silicon Valley,” he says.
Mr. Reyes, 38, took the reins at Brocade after considering more than 100 job openings and interviewing with 27 companies. He even met with all 50 venture capital firms in Silicon Valley to let them know the kind of company he wanted to lead.
“I have always tried to find industries that were major emerging growth segments,” he says. “I started out in the disk-drive industry in manufacturing, then got into computer systems business, then into data communications software business, as that was next emerging segment. I then got involved in wireless communications.”
Born in Newark, New Jersey, Mr. Reyes was reared in Silicon Valley. His father, an engineer who emigrated from Cuba in the early 1960s, moved the family to Northern California in 1969.
His father, Greg Reyes Sr., was a successful technology executive who worked at National Semiconductor and Fairchild Semiconductor. Now a venture capitalist, the elder Mr. Reyes serves on the boards of 16 companies.
“My father was always a role model in terms of work ethic and business acumen,” says Mr. Reyes. “He has always been a sounding board, coaching me with career decisions and through difficult management decisions.”
Mr. Reyes’ high-tech career began with a college internship at Seagate Technologies. He liked it so much he took a full-time job there while finishing his business degree at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, California, at night.
His first job out of college was with Convergent Technologies, which was a leader in Unix and workstation servers at the time. He worked his way up through the sales ranks there before joining Banyan Systems, a networking and data communications software firm, as vice-president of sales and support.
Most recently, he was president and CEO of Wireless Access, which was eventually sold to Glenayre Technologies for $100 million. Mr. Reyes doesn’t consider himself a job hopper, just someone intent on attaining the necessary skills to lead a high-tech company.
“I’ve always had a plan to become CEO of a tech company, and I’ve always been very thoughtful about the companies I chose to work for and whether they would help me continue to develop the experiences I needed to accomplish this goal,” he says.
Under his leadership, Brocade has turned in seven straight quarters of profitability and revenue growth since its initial public offering in May 1999.
“Greg is arguably the best CEO of any tech company in the world,” says Seth Neiman, a Brocade board member who founded the company using funding from Crosspoint Venture Partners, a venture capital firm.
Mr. Neiman, managing partner of Crosspoint, admits he could be somewhat biased, as he hired Mr. Reyes, but he truly believes in his abilities.
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