Last month saw the completion of a spectacular round of funding for Cloudera, distributor of Apache Hadoop software for crunching Big Data. The Palo Alto company announced they had raised a total of $900 million in equity, including a $740 million investment from Intel. This investment values the startup, expected to go public later this year, at about $4.1 billion.
Pretty exciting times, in other words, if you are heading the sales team at Cloudera – which is exactly what SACC SF/SV board member Lars Nilsson does as the VP of Field Operations. Lars commented on the impressive investment: “I was at the right place, at the right time – and this is the fourth time!” Mr. Nilsson, previously co-founder and CEO at SalesSource LLC, has had a series of successful IPOs (Initial Public Offerings). Bitten by the entrepreneurial spirit, he enjoys helping companies generate demand; to date, he has helped three venture-backed software companies go public.

Although Lars grew up a Californian in Manhattan Beach surfing and playing volleyball, he spent his summers in Sweden (his parents kept a farm outside of Södertälje in Grödinge) where he had a quintessential Swedish upbringing: sailing camps in the archipelago, running in the fields and the woods: “Sweden was a huge part of my upbringing.”

Commenting on the pathway to his success, Mr. Nilsson says “I had the right upbringing; I had parents who loved and respected me, who gave me opportunities. I had the right group of friends who were ambitious, studied and did internships. Growing up doing a lot of sports developed my sense of competitiveness and education also played an important part; it enables you to start thinking for yourself; you get the experience of being a young adult before going into the ‘real world’ – it is an unbelievable opportunity”.

After graduating from college in the late 80s, Lars went to work initially for Xerox, where he learned the trade by selling copy machines door to door: “I decided I’d be the best; I’d work later, I’d work harder, I’d be more charismatic, and friendlier”. The Cloudera VP continues to adhere to the principles he learned so well at the inception of his career.