Nutanix CEO Dheeraj Pandey forfeits $17.5M of stock before IPO

Dheeraj Pandey, founder and CEO of Nutanix
Source: Nutanix

Nutanix's CEO is sweetening the equity pot for employees as the company waits to go public.

Dheeraj Pandey, who co-founded the data storage vendor in 2009 and is its biggest individual shareholder, voluntarily forfeited $17.5 million worth of restricted stock last month, according to Nutanix's updated IPO prospectus, which was filed late Monday.

By returning stock to the equity pool, the San Jose, California, company has the flexibility to redistribute shares to current and future employees without creating additional shares that dilute existing stakeholders.

Tech IPO drought is sign of investor reality check

Other tech executives have taken similar steps during rocky periods. Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey did so at the social media site and at Square, his payments company that went public in November. And following a disastrous fourth-quarter earnings report recently, LinkedIn said that CEO Jeff Weiner forfeited his annual stock compensation for 2016 to return the stock to the option pool.

Nutanix's business is doing fine. It's a hyper-growth cloud infrastructure provider that's benefiting from the surge in computing and storage demands at businesses of all sizes. Revenue in the three months to end-January climbed 81 percent from a year earlier to $102.7 million.

But the company's IPO has been on ice since the stock market cratered at the start of the year.

Nutanix, which filed to go public in December, has been waiting for the market to turn before attempting to sell shares, CNBC reported in February. Not a single technology company in the U.S. has gone public yet in 2016, meaning all eyes are on Nutanix's progress.

A Nutanix spokesperson declined to comment.

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According to the filing, Pandey forfeited 1.3 million of his 1.9 million restricted stock units, or RSUs, most of which were scheduled to vest quarterly over four years, with others tied to certain milestones following the IPO.

Pandey still has plenty of incentive to lead a successful offering. He owns 11.3 million shares—equivalent to 9.2 percent—of Nutanix, a company that was valued at $2 billion in a 2014 private financing round. Based on a fair market price of $13.49 a share as of July 2015, according to the prospectus, Pandey's common shares are worth $153 million.

To convert that paper into real money, Pandey needs to excite IPO investors and have the stock to hold up long after the debut.