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#WhyWasabi: The Return of CMO Michael Welts and Wasabi 2.0

June 12, 2023By Lily McIntyre

Our #WhyWasabi series highlights different members of the Wasabi team to get to know more about them, what they do, and how they are helping Wasabi transform the cloud storage industry. We had the absolute pleasure of featuring Michael Welts, Wasabi’s CMO, who has returned to the company after departing in May 2022. The Bucket editorial team sat down with Mike to chat about his Wasabi journey, his thoughts on Wasabi’s company culture, what he’s been up to in the past year, and what’s next for Wasabi. 

Q: You were a part of Wasabi since Day 1. We’d love to hear a little bit about the company’s journey in terms of product evolution and subsequent go-to-market strategy. Where did Wasabi start, and where are we now? 

From the very beginning, we aimed to be the best cloud storage solution provider in the industry by making it simple. We have achieved this by maintaining a singular focus on storage and nothing else. The idea of hot cloud storage is a single, universal tier of storage that could deliver an affordable, fast and secure service. Over the past six years, we’ve expanded that solution to include Cloud NAS, Surveillance Cloud, Cloud Sync Manager, Account Control Manager, and more. Through these innovations, we’ve made data storage simple for our customers, partners, and our global distribution network. With over 50,000 customers and 20,000 partners, we’ve evolved from a disruptor/challenger brand to a storage market leader. This is our time! 

 

Q: On the same token, you’ve also fostered and nurtured the Wasabi culture since Day 1. Please talk about how you’ve seen the team culture evolve since the BlueArchive days (For those who don’t know, BlueArchive was the company’s original name before Mike had the idea to change it to “Wasabi”). 

There’s a great saying from “The Journey” that goes, “We didn’t come this far only to get this far.” That has truly personified Wasabi from the very beginning. This company has always fostered the perfect blend of entrepreneurial spirit, expertise, and energy. We identified a need, a pain point, and an opportunity to build something special for our customers and for our employees. We’ll never stop honing our driven, can-do attitude because we strive to become the biggest and best in the business. Winners never stop demanding more from themselves. After all, our goal is to store all the world’s data! 

I like to say that we “bleed green” at Wasabi. This is a truly special place to work. Everyone has an opportunity to contribute and make an impact. Everyone is heard. Everyone is valued. As I have said before, there are many companies who achieve success with great products, but the truly great ones achieve it because of extraordinary people, teamwork, and a passionate culture for winning. Again, although our growth has helped us evolve and do more in the industry, our culture remains the same. 

 

Q: When you left Wasabi to join Aviatrix as their Chief Marketing Officer last year, you made it clear that you were doing so to explore the cloud industry at a larger scale. What did you learn from Aviatrix, and how do you plan to apply that strategy back here at Wasabi, specifically when it comes to our growth? 

Both companies are on incredible journeys to change the complexion of the cloud marketplace. The old “Big Three own the market” (Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google) mentality has been disintermediated by emerging and rapidly growing companies like us, as well as other leaders like Snowflake, DataDog, Hashicorp, and more. I have seen so many cloud strategies like IaaS, SaaS, and PaaS that provide a wealth of opportunity for innovation. Customers have made it clear that they want true innovation in the cloud, not just forklifted datacenter technologies inside of a cloud service wrapper.  

While we do view the traditional hyperscalers and CSPs as competition, they are also our “co-opetition” because customers demand integrations and multicloud storage and connectivity. In the end, we all must work together in the best interest of the customer. The next phase of Wasabi’s growth will come from our ability to become the underlying storage foundation to the world, through our technology alliance partners, OEM solutions, partners, and customers. 

 

Q: You’ve also said that when you returned to Wasabi, it was for the purpose of seeing Wasabi through to “Wasabi 2.0”. Tell us about your personal connection to this company and the culture you’ve helped to create here. 

When I left Wasabi, I spoke of the company’s success being tied to an incredible culture, brand, reputation, and marketplace. This company has amazing people who operate as a team across the board.  

Over the past year, I remained on as a board advisor working closely with the team. I saw the progress, potential, and the opportunity to do more. I look at the future as “Wasabi 2.0”, a mission and an opportunity to build something truly great. Those opportunities are rare in life, and I felt a need to rejoin my colleagues in completing the mission we started. These are the defining moments for Wasabi. We’re tracking to record growth, even in uncertain and challenging markets. This is where we separate from the pack. Now is where we make an impact on the business, the industry, and the future. 

 

Q: Can you tell us a bit about what you’ve been up to since returning to Wasabi? 

I wanted to rejoin Wasabi because I saw all the company has achieved over the past six years and realized that our mission is still in its infancy. The Cloud Storage market literally is boundaryless. I’m re-approaching my role as CMO with a growth mindset of 10x-ing the business: elevating success and my own ability to lead and skyrocket our company to new heights with this team. I want to do more, be more, and achieve more as we take this next chapter of Wasabi’s tale to historic levels. 

We’re busy looking at defining Wasabi’s next great chapter. That means always improving our customers and partners’ current experience while continuing to grow our global footprint, define our brand’s market leadership agenda, extend our product as part of a whole-product solution set, and identify opportunity through tighter product/market fit. Suffice to say, we are 100% committed to providing the very best cloud storage service in the industry in every aspect. 

 

Q: You've built the Wasabi brand by building a marketing team. Can you talk about how Wasabi’s team lives and embodies its brand? 

Wasabi’s amazing success can be attributed to its innovation and cloud storage solutions. However, many companies with incredible technology and products have failed to find their stride if they don’t have the right people and culture in place. Wasabi is successful because of its people: a rare blend of passion, talent, and teamwork that come together to build true greatness. 

There’s a genuine sense of pride in accomplishment and association in wearing the Wasabi logo and brand. We take great pride in defining the future of cloud storage, as do our partners. Many of our customers have used the Wasabi value proposition to gain a strategic seat at the IT leadership table, giving them a voice in the future direction of their company’s ability to innovate, become more efficient and competitively differentiated.  

As we expand globally and across markets, our partnerships with some of the most iconic brands in the sports and media and entertainment industries not only increase our brand awareness, but they drive our ability to improve social impact and corporate responsibility. Our affiliations with the Boston Red Sox, Boston Bruins and the Liverpool Football Club, alongside many others, allow us to shape the future of data storage, how those sports will be played, and the security of their facilities. We are also working to boost our ability to help in local community charitable causes in partnership. Wasabi is a brand for everyone, where inclusive behavior defines who we are, and how we are shaping the future of the cloud generation. 

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