Where Did Dornquast Go? An Interview With Code42’s Interim CEO Mitch Coopet



It was revealed on Monday that Code42 cofounder and CEO Matthew Dornquast had stepped down. 

As one of three original founders with 15 years invested into the business, the news was shocking — to think that the leader at one of Minnesota’s most prominent tech companies was suddenly gone without explanation.

His celebrity status in the Twin Cities tech scene is grounded in geek cred and flamed by the sheer scale of CrashPlan, which pulled $52.5m VC backing based on years of previous performance in the hot market of data backup & security.

Suddenly, this humble Minnesota software company that had been heads down for over a decade was coming out to play at the highest stakes with Dornquast determined to show the world that Minnesota is capable of more since the bygones of his Control Data roots.

For a company riding high as Code42 was under Dornquast’s direction, something is amiss when the first revelation of such a fundamental change is found buried in an unrelated news release, where cofounder Mitch Coopet appeared next to the title of CEO.

What’s interesting is that Dornquast relinquished his role before a successor was found and ahead of any PR preparedness, as the company issued this statement only after questions started coming in. And despite a history of accessibility with candor, Dornquast has since made himself unavailable to discuss the details firsthand.

Temporarily filling his shoes is interim CEO Mitch Coopet, who spoke with us on behalf of Code42:

JP: The pressing questions on our readers minds and an obvious starting point – when and why did Matthew Dornquast resign as the CEO of Code42?

MC: “It’s important to understand that Code42 has been a really fast growing company here in the Twin Cities. We’re just coming off a breakout year and 2015 is on track to be another one.

Our focus has been in the endpoint data protection space, but we’re finding a great opportunity in security now.  I’ve been speerheading the security aspects of what we can do where we’re taking things, which requires a new type of leadership…the type of leadership that can scale past a billion dollars.  We’re actively looking for that, with the entire board behind us and Matthew included, to take the company to the next stage.

JP: Would you describe that next stage as a billion dollars target in revenue?

MC: The right leader for the next 3-5 years, definitely, and beyond that, we have bigger aspirations.  We’re really interested in putting Minnesota on the map from a technology standpoint, so to continue investing here in the Twin Cities is definitely in the cards for us.

JP: When did Matthew actually resign?

MC: Well…he’s been a founder and he’s been actively involved since the very beginning. I don’t want to speak for Matthew, but if you look at the next stage of growth, it’s logical to step back and ask ‘am I the right person to take it past this stage?’  It shows a lot of leadership on his part to make that decision.

JP: How would you describe his role and relationship with the company moving forward?

MC: He’s going to continue to be involved as an active advisor, Matthew is one of the most brilliant people I’ve had the privilege of working with. He is simply one of the smartest guys on the planet and will continue providing strategic advisement for Code42 not only as a board member, but as he remains one of the largest shareholders in the company.

JP: What has the replacement process has been and why does it seem so reactionary – at least from a media standpoint?

MC: It’s always been in the cards and we’re being as public and transparent about this as we can be.  Part of it is just being a high growth company…things move fast and not all the pieces always fall into place how you want them to. There’s definitely a lot of good things happening here and thats our primary focus: building the value of the company and setting it up for the next stage of success.

JP: How do you define and measure growth and what is your year to date growth by that measurement?

MC: Our focus in the last year has been to entrench the enterprise and we’ve done that successfully. We now have over 37,000 customers who use our products and services through no small feat of the hardworking people here at Code42.  Growth from that lense is anything above 50% year over year…looking at net new customer acquisitions and expansions in terms of licenses and sales.  We’ve been tracking against that so we’re excited.

JP: Why did the company change its mind about the Mozaic Uptown move back in March?

MC: It didn’t make sense financially — just was not a good fit for the us.

JP: How many employees do you currently have?

MC: I think we’re currently north of 430 with the majority (around 400) in Minnesota.

JP: What is your revenue target for this year?

MC: I can’t disclose that

JP: What would you say to those who are questioning the future of Code42 relative to these back to back revelations?

MC: What do you mean?

JP: Pulling out of Mozaic followed by Matthew Dornquast’s resignation?

MC: This is all part of growth and these are signs of our company getting setup for the next stage of success. One of the things I think we’re really good at with Code42 is doing what’s required inside the walls — getting customers.   We’re looking forward to, with this next stage of leadership, telling the world how great we’re doing.

JP: Is there anything else you would like to add?

MC: No, thank you for the conversation.

JP: Thank you Mitch