Rackspace Technology CEO Kevin Jones On The Company's COVID Surge And Place In San Antonio | Texas Public Radio

Rackspace Technology CEO Kevin Jones On The Company's COVID Surge And Place In San Antonio

Jun 10, 2020

San Antonio’s Rackspace is in more demand than ever as businesses try to combat the strains of a pandemic. Rackspace CEO Kevin Jones spoke with TPR about the business's place in San Antonio, rumors of the company going public again, and the surge in growth right now.

The company rebranded as Rackspace Technology this week. The move comes as the company focuses on multicloud, or helping companies perform on multiple cloud computing platforms. Many companies do this using public and private clouds across Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure and others.

This interview was edited and condensed.

Paul Flahive:

“Why did the company change its name to Rackspace Technology?”

Kevin Jones: 

“We're a completely transformed company right compared to where we were even just three years ago. We've diversified our offerings through acquisitions, such as TriCore, Datapipe RelationEdge and Onica. 

We have done four acquisitions in just the last three years.

We've got fast growing practices in cloud native application development, artificial intelligence, machine learning, Internet of Things, security and containers. And so our new name Rackspace Technology just better articulates our full value to the market. 

And so we've got a new name, we've also got a new mission. Our new mission is “embrace technology, empower customers and deliver the future.” You know, technology is what we're all about. Customers are why we exist and what we do for our customers, we deliver the future faster than they could do it themselves on their own. 

We want everyone in our industry to understand all that we do now.”

PF:   

“You came in (as Rackspace CEO) last April. And you spent some time with Graham Weston, who has kind of the reputation of being the kind of a benevolent godfather or benevolent uncle of San Antonio's tech scene, and has invested a lot of his time and efforts in developing the city. What did you take away from that experience?”

KJ:

“I spent a lot of time with Graham before I even got to the company. I really wanted to understand how he and the leadership team built the company, so that I knew what to protect. And I knew what to double down and emphasize. I talked to him or text with him still every week as we've continued to transform the company. It's been great.”

PF:  

“One of the things that he has dedicated himself to his the development of the tech scene in San Antonio. Rackspace was for many years, the kind of chief convener for that scene. And then that changed under your predecessor. It had sort of recessed or retreated from, from the company’s previous public stature. That's not what I'm hearing about the company under you. I'm hearing it is starting to reemerge. That you're seeing more Rackspace, public facing Rackspace in the community.Was that a conscious effort on your part?”

KJ:

“Absolutely. For sure. You know, I think San Antonio has got an incredible tech community. And together with Austin, and that whole corridor provides us with all of the technology resources and then some that we need. 

One of the things that I did want to make sure happen is that the executives as well, we're based in San Antonio. So that was a change that we made that you probably are referring to, it's made a big difference in terms of how effective we are.

The other thing I'm excited about is that we are changing our name of our Open Cloud Academy to Rackspace Cloud Academy. And we're actually going to host that in the castle, in our corporate headquarters, we're going to be expanding the training that we've got there. And we would love for San Antonio, and other Texans to come down and take advantage of all of the skills training that we have there. So you'll see more from us about that."

PF:

“How do you describe Rackspace’s position right now as this world-changing pandemic is going on?”

KJ:

“Very strong. We are thriving right now because customers are in such urgent need of becoming more efficient, saving money, of pivoting into these new business models. 

Through the pandemic, if you look at a lot of the surveys out there, when you talk to businesses, and you ask them, what's one of your biggest challenges? 

One of the biggest challenges is their IT landscape and their IT infrastructure in particular, because of COVID-19, because of the pandemic. 

That's perfect for Rackspace, right? That's exactly what we help customers do. 

So that's why we've seen such an explosion in our sales performance and why we're seeing such accelerated growth.”

PF:  

“The last three, four years. I think that there was concern because each year there did seem to be layoffs (in San Antonio), there did seem to be a restructuring as you guys figured out your next move. 

How do you describe this moment now in terms of your San Antonio workforce?”

KJ:

“Very good. Yeah. Look, we are really excited about this time at Rackspace Technology we are in growth mode, for sure. You know, we've seen that through achieving now three, record breaking sales performances in the third, fourth and first quarters. It's our intention. continue to grow our workforce and we are doubling down in San Antonio and Austin and in our other Texas locations.”

PF:

“And I remember last July, it became kind of a big deal that you guys had renovated a section of your headquarters and leased it out. How have you guys found that to be?”

KJ:

“Yes, it's been great, actually. We've really, you know, enjoyed our relationship with TaskUs that's who came in and, you know, they're our neighbors now. 

We love our space in the castle. It's great to have TaskUs there and it's worked out really well.”

PF: 

“Well. I think I'd be remiss if I didn't ask are we are we expecting Rackspace to go public anytime soon?”

KJ:  

“Well, thanks Paul for asking. Look, you know as a private company, we cannot comment on speculation about an IPO at this time. 

We continue to be focused on taking care of our customers, operational excellence and driving, continued financial performance improvement. 

We're seeing a lot of growth, a lot of acceleration in our business. And really the sky's the limit for our company.”

Paul Flahive can be reached at Paul@tpr.org or on Twitter @paulflahive.