Carbonite’s top job goes to HP veteran exec

It’s been quite the week for Mohamad Ali. HP’s former Chief Strategy Officer was named CEO of Carbonite on Thursday, the day after Carbonite received an unsolicited $366.4 million bid from J2 Global.

So, not only is he negotiating a move from the Palo Alto behemoth with some 280,000 or so employees to a Boston-based firm with about 500 people, he’s now in the thick of a not-so-friendly acquisition attempt.

Given his pedigree — Ali spent several years at [company]IBM[/company] working on acquisitions of companies like Ascential, Cognos and SPSS — and then HP so he’s no stranger to M&A. He and his PR person referred me to a company statement that its board will evaluate the J2 bid and offered no further comment.

But he did say part of Carbonite’s appeal was its potential to be a much bigger company. The company had about $102.7 million in revenue last year.

Carbonite CEO Mohamad Ali.

Carbonite CEO Mohamad Ali.

“I took this job because I thought this could be a huge company. I started building IBM’s analytics business and it was $8 billion when I left. [company]Carbonite[/company] has good cash on the balance sheet, we can use that to acquire things and grow. I’d love to see a billion dollar business in Massachusetts,” he said in an interview Wednesday afternoon.

In his view, Carbonite which provides cloud-based backup and disaster-recovery services to small and medium businesses (SMBs), sits at the intersection of three huge opportunities — cloud, big data and SMBs. There are millions of these businesses in the U.S. and abroad that have real need for storage and data analytics but don’t have huge IT staffs.

These companies have real tech needs but “don’t want to own IT,” he said. Carbonite already serves many of them with its back-up and recovery service but he think it can do more for them using their data than it does now.

For example, Carbonite could analyze the email traffic of a doctor’s office an recommend when a follow-up mail, call or visit is warranted

While Ali said he envisions Carbonite as a larger independent company with a more global reach, his years at IBM and [company]HP[/company] cause some to wonder if Carbonite may end up with one of those two companies, both of which, after all, have shown a propensity for acquisitions especially in the cloud arena.

Note: This report was updated at 5:40 p.m. PST to correct the name of Carbonite’s suitor: It is J2 Global, not J2 Capital.

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